WASHINGTON - The NPCA recently issued a "grassroots alert" to association member companies, urging support of federal legislation designed to stem the threat of a flood of asbestos-related litigation against industries and companies that had little, if any, connection to asbestos production or use.

The association called on companies to campaign for passage of the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Liability Resolution Act of 2003, or "FAIR," which was recently approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and was expected to receive a vote on the Senate floor.

The legislation would create an Asbestos Injury Claims Resolution Fund of least $110 billion to $115 billion, paid by companies based on their current asbestos liability, and by those companies' insurers, over the next 20-plus years. The bill also would put in place an administrative and judicial process to pay legitimate claimants based on established medical criteria and a formula for recovery. The bill would include a moratorium on all federal and state asbestos litigation.

Most NPCA member companies would benefit from a small-business exclusion exempting them from paying into the fund or requiring them to pay relatively small amounts, the association said, adding to the appeal of the legislation for the coatings industry.

An alliance named the Small and Middle-Sized Business Coalition for Asbestos Liability Reform, which the NPCA has helped to create, has urged members of the coalition's various trade associations to write senators and congressmen urging passage of the FAIR legislation.

The NPCA has prepared a form letter for this use, which can be obtained from Government Affairs Counsel Alison Keane, e-mail akeane@paint.org, phone 202/462.6272, extension 248, or General Counsel Tom Graves, e-mail tgraves@ paint.org. Name and contact information for senators and congressmen also is available from the NPCA.