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COVID-19 Lawsuit Protection Bills Moving Through Legislature

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This story originally aired on March 12, 2021.

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At the Statehouse, major legislation intended to shield businesses and health care providers from lawsuits related to COVID-19 is headed to the full Senate after its Rules Committee this week merged two bills into one lengthy proposal.

One bill dealt with liability of health-care providers; the other initially deals only with liability of non-health care businesses. Sponsor Jeff Brandes (BRAND - iss) describes the decision to roll the bills into one measure as a strategic move, as negotiations move forward with House leaders.

“It makes sense now, as we come in for a landing, to land one piece of legislation. We’ll negotiate with the House on one piece of legislation, so that we are not putting ourselves in a situation where we could be held hostage on one to pass the other. I think it is important that we have both the business community and the healthcare community rowing with us together, in the same ship.”

The Republican-controlled committee rejected a series of amendments offered by Democratic senators who attempted to tweak legal standards and lawsuit procedures included in the bill. Senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer says the bill grants protections for too many businesses.

“The bill goes too far. It’s a dramatic change to Florida law. You are potentially impacting thousands of consumers and Floridians who may have contracted this disease.”

The House, meanwhile, continues to have a split approach to offering litigation protections. The House Judiciary Committee voted 15-5 to advance the proposal. That bill is positioned to be taken up by the full House, which already approved a bill to provide protections to non-health care businesses.

Copyright 2021 WUWF

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.