Bill Would End Government Liability for Motorists that Hit Potholes

7/5/11- If a state lawmaker has his way, it would be your fault if you hit a pothole caused by highway defects. Freshman Assembly Republican Andre Jacque of Bellevue is sponsoring a bill to end government liability for pothole damage caused by known highway problems. Right now, drivers can claim up to 50-thousand-dollars in damages – and Jacque said the money could be better used to fix those roads. A similar bill is pending in the Senate. Both have yet to have public hearings. Jacque calls it one more burden for local governments. And the Legislative Fiscal Bureau says communities could pay lower insurance premiums if their liability for potholes goes away. Supporters say the bill would let highway departments decide which repairs are most important at a time when their budgets are tight. But Brown County risk manager Barb West says it would relieve counties of the obligation to fix potholes on a timely basis – and she says it’s not acceptable. Former Governor Jim Doyle vetoed a similar proposal in 2005.