The Heavy Lifting Begins: AASP/MA’s Reimbursement Rate and ADALB Reform Bills Move Forward

by Chasidy Rae Sisk

It’s a long, long journey to Beacon Hill when you’re only a bill. After a bill is filed, it must pass through several committees and a floor vote in each chamber (the House and the Senate), both of which must agree on the final version before the enacted bill makes its way to the governor’s desk, hopefully to be signed into law.

AASP/MA’s reimbursement rate bill and the association’s proposed legislation aimed at reforming the Auto Damage Appraiser Licensing Board (ADALB) may both still be singing “I’m Just a Bill,” but recently, they each took another step to becoming law. 

“Both bills were released from their initial committees with ‘ought to pass’ favorable votes,” reports AASP/MA Executive Director Lucky Papageorg. “We’re happy to see this positive forward motion, but now, the heavy lifting begins.”

“We can’t rest on our early success,”  AASP/MA Lobbyist Guy Glodis agrees. “The foundation of AASP/MA’s bills has more to do with consumer protection than with the collision industry itself. It’s really about the best way to help consumers in Massachusetts, and it’s an important message for the State House to hear. We have to continue to push our consumer-reform agenda and make the legislators truly know why these bills are important to the public’s well-being.

“The Legislature very rarely acts; it tends to react,” he adds. “It’s incumbent upon us to educate our legislators about the issues that affect the auto industry and collision repair consumers. Reform doesn’t come by chance; it comes by advocacy, organization and keeping the membership motivated to force change up on Beacon Hill.”

Thus far, AASP/MA has done an amazing job of advocating for the change needed. During the last legislative session, the association’s efforts produced strong bipartisan support which allowed them to hit the ground running when this session opened in 2023, quickly securing lead sponsorship for “An Act relative to the licensure of appraisers” (HB 262) and “An Act to establish minimum reimbursement rate to insurance claimants” (HB 1035).

Sponsored by Representative Tackey Chan (D-Norfolk) and Senator Paul R. Feeney (D-Bristol), HB 262 seeks to move the ADALB away from the Division of Insurance to the Division of Occupational Licensure, require term limits for members and include consumer representation, which it currently lacks. In July, Papageorg, Ray Belsito (Arnie’s Auto Body; Charlton) and Brian Bernard (Total Care Accident Repair; Raynham) testified on behalf of the bill, explaining that the ADALB, in its current state, is widely viewed as ineffective and biased since the Board members who represent the insurance side outweigh the collision repair side three to two; the proposed changes would level the playing field.

During its trek through the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, HB 262 teamed up with its Senate equivalents, SB 213 and SB 214, to form the current iteration of the proposed legislation, SB 2568 (available in its entirety at At the end of January, SB 2568 received an “ought to pass” vote and was referred to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means where it awaits its second reading. As of the writing of this article, the bill has acquired support from 48 legislators. 

Representative James K. Hawkins (D-Bristol) again sponsored the association’s efforts to establish a minimum labor reimbursement rate, HB 1035, which began its journey to the Capitol by being referred to the Joint Committee on Financial Services. The goal of this important legislation is to increase the existing rate AND require annual adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index. During a public hearing in October, AASP/MA members and other industry leaders voiced support for this proposed legislation as well as several additional bills with the same intent. 

HB 1035 partnered with like-minded HB 950, HB 1095 and HB 1118 to accompany a new draft via HB 4412 (available in its entirety at, which, in February, was subsequently reported favorably to the House Committee on Ways and Means to receive its second reading. At the time of this writing, HB 4412 has 44 co-sponsors. 

These bills started as ideas that seemed worthwhile, and courage and patience is needed to see them signed into law. For now, SB 2568 and HB 4412 are waiting in committee while legislators debate their merit, which means there’s still more for the collision repair industry to do to help them become law.

At the moment, AASP/MA is calling on ALL members and ALL auto body professionals to make their voices heard by contacting legislators to explain how these bills impact their small businesses and, more importantly, Massachusetts consumers who rely on their elected officials to protect their interests. Shop owners and managers should encourage everyone on their teams to take just a few minutes to call their legislators and write a personal letter or email. Remember: Legislators don’t understand what it takes to fix today’s complex vehicles, but repairers certainly do, and that’s why it’s so important for the Massachusetts auto body community to come together to take a stand to support their customers and thereby the collision repair industry as a whole. 

“Taking the time to write a handwritten note will help your legislators understand that these bills impact actual people; they impact you, their constituent,” Papageorg encourages everyone to get involved. “Plead your case as a small business that is just trying to do what’s right for the consumer – trying to repair vehicles safely – but you’re being thwarted by appraisers and adjusters who won’t approve necessary processes and procedures, so you’re forced to charge your customer the difference that the insurance company refuses to cover. And those appraisers are not being held liable for their immoral and what could sometimes be considered illegal behavior due to the ineffective ADALB. Our legislators don’t know the ins and outs of what we face everyday, so it falls on us to let them know!”

“We will get the bills out by making noise; three people won’t move them, but 30 to 40 people reaching out to members of the State House and Senate can really make a difference,” Glodis emphasizes that there is strength in numbers. He also reminds repairers to “be polite and professional, and our message will fall on good ears. Representatives and Senators want to be your friend. They get elected and re-elected based on their constituents. There’s nothing more powerful than a business owner who has a business in their district, a constituent or an employer who employs four or five constituents calling up and just talking about a bill that affects their industry and livelihood. I think you’d be surprised by seeing how positive the response is and how the Legislature really wants to support their constituency.”

Educating your customers and asking for their support is another way that everyone can get involved in pushing these bills forward. “The artificially suppressed labor reimbursement rate is having a devastating effect on vehicle owners and the collision repair industry…an industry that is counted on by millions of constituents across the state to guarantee the safety of the motoring public,” Papageorg says, recommending, “Talk to your customers about how the labor rate is not high enough to be able to effectively and safely do the job. I know many of you balance-bill. Tell consumers they may potentially help themselves avoid paying a balance to a shop if the minimum is raised to something fair and equitable. HB 4412 will keep the rate from becoming stagnant.

“If we don’t continue to apply pressure, we won’t see success,” he adds, reminding repairers that insurers will certainly be applying pressure, as they did during the last legislative session, such as through the robocalls, paid for by local and national insurance companies, that “warned” consumers that a labor reimbursement rate mandated legislatively would result in higher premiums. “We made such great strides that insurers had to resort to robocalling the public and legislators in an attempt to stop our momentum. Much of their efforts fell on deaf ears, so the insurers had to resort to a second round of calls, paid for by a national association of insurance companies. That fact alone shows how much influence the Massachusetts collision repair industry wields!”

Be prepared to exercise that influence in the coming months…in addition to letters and calls, repairers can get involved in this legislative battle by testifying at future readings of HB 4412 and SB 2568, should the opportunity arise. 

“This is when the real work starts,” Papageorg stresses. “We need every shop in the Commonwealth to take just a few minutes to help explain how these initiatives benefit the consumers who are their constituents. We refuse to be pacified by insignificant increases that create the potential for unsafe repairs. Massachusetts drivers deserve better, and we’re going to continue fighting until our legislators do the right thing and pass legislation to protect our roadways…and we’re going to need the entire industry to come together to help us make that push and make progress. We CAN get this legislation passed this session, but we need YOUR help to do it. This is NOT a one and done request. If you do not reach your legislator on your first attempt or they do not respond to your request for a call, you MUST reach out until they do. ‘The squeaky wheel definitely gets the oil.’”

“We look forward to working with the legislature to bring both of these consumer protection bills to fruition in this current session,” Glodis adds. “The hard work and continued support of the AASP/MA membership will be key to our success.”

Don’t miss the call to action and your chance to make a difference for the industry’s future! Email to sign up for notifications from AASP/MA to stay informed on what’s next. The Commonwealth collision repair industry needs – and demands! – change, but the Alliance cannot do it without your help…it’s time to flex those muscles by supporting HB 4412 and SB 2568 on their journey to becoming laws!

Want more? Check out the April 2024 issue of New England Automotive Report!