HB 1175: COVID-19 Liability - The House Floor Vote
HB 1175 passed in the House of Representatives, 77 yeas to 17 nays.
Passing the House with bipartisan support, the bill will go to the Senate for the same process - committee work followed by a Floor vote. Rep. Howe will likely introduce the bill to the Senate Industry, Business and Labor Committee.
The bill does have an emergency clause attached, meaning the bill would become effective means it will become law as soon as it is signed by the Governor. The emergency clause is not possible unless both the House and the Senate give 2/3rd majority of the vote. The House 2/3rds is 64 votes.
CHAMBER CHAMPION SPOTLIGHT
REP. MIKE LEFOR
Chair of the House Industry, Business and Labor Committee, Rep Lefor spoke on the Floor about the importance of HB 1175. GNDC appreciated his insight, perspective, and respect for what North Dakota businesses have done in response to the pandemic.
"This bill is in the form it needs to be in ... This is not a bill put together at the last minute, this involved several entities and associations across the state. First let me say, many other states have passed a version of this bill and applied it retroactively. We are not the first state and we are not going to be the last. This pandemic has affected our daily lives in so many ways - adding stress, concern for our own well-being, as well as our friends and loved ones.
Businesses in North Dakota have done an outstanding job of doing everything we can to keep our employees and customers safe from harm. We have purchased PPE, attended webinars, printed documentation to educate our staff on how to accomplish that. Businesses have gone above and beyond. One point that I want to make, this will add a lot of stress to businesses if you are sued and you are a small business, can you afford to settle that? Can you afford to take it through, even though you are right? If the employers aren't there to provide a paycheck the employees will lose their job.
There are out-of-state firms who want to take advantage of the situation by adding stress, by suing businesses throughout our country in order to make a profit ... Do we really want to add to [a business's] burden by leaving them vulnerable to these kinds of lawsuits?
...This bill does not bar all claims. Intentional acts and malicious acts survive; workers could take a course of action. This bill grants immunity defense to those people in organizations that acted in good faith. Under these unique circumstances with this unique virus, this will protect our citizens, businesses, churches, schools, and other entities crumbling under the weight of that uncertainty. The overriding public purpose of this bill is to protect the hard-working people of the state from more uncertainty.
If we don't act to protect our businesses, who will?"
Representative Mike Lefor - District 37