D.C. Mayor Marion Barry announced yesterday that he had refused to sign a controversial no-fault automobile insurance bill passed recently by the City Council and will allow it to go to Congress for a mandatory 30-day review without his signature.
"I am concerned that the necessary protections for the consumer be included and, when necessary, clarified," Barry said in a brief statement that did not further specify his objections.
Barry did not veto the bill because the city "has a serious problem in that 40 percent of the District's drivers are uninsured . . . and this legislation would address that problem," the statement said.
The bill would require owners of D.C.-registered vehicles to carry insurance to pay for treatment of their own personal injuries up to $100,000 without a determination of who is at fault in an accident. Nonmedical "pain and suffering" suits would be barred except in cases involving deaths, serious injuries and medical bills over $5,000.
Council member John Ray (D-At Large), a no-fault opponent who is challenging Barry in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary, accused Barry of "dancing all around the issue" to avoid political problems.
Barry signed two other bills yesterday, including legislation to revise the law governing bail and a measure giving the city the power to deduct court-ordered child support payments from D.C. income tax refunds in certain cases.