Democrats on Judiciary committee vote ‘no’ on safe harbor bill, which would protect Maine businesses, municipalities, non-profits, and educational institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic
Sponsor’s request to carry the bill over was denied
On Thursday, May 27, members of the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary held a work session on LD 1403, An Act to Protect Maine Businesses, Non-Profits, Educational Institutions and Municipalities During COVID-19 Pandemic. The Maine State Chamber testified in strong support of the bill, which would have provided liability protections for the above entities for exposure from COVID-19 lawsuits. Sen. Anne Carney, Rep. Lois Reckitt, Sen. Heather Sanborn, Rep. Erin Sheehan, Rep. Jeff Evangelos, Rep. Chris Babbidge, and Rep. Jay McCreight all voted “ought not to pass.” Sen. Lisa Keim, Rep. David Haggan, and Rep. Jennifer Poirier voted “ought to pass as amended” and wanted to carry-over the bill.
Defeating the bill potentially exposes all of the above entities to an onslaught of lawsuits that most likely would not be covered by insurance and leave the entities personally liable for damages. Rep. Kathleen Dillingham (R-Oxford), the bill’s sponsor, offered an amendment to the bill, which would have clarified that workers’ compensation laws would not be impacted by the bill. The sponsor asked that the bill be carried over to the Second Regular Session of the 130th Maine Legislature, but that request was denied by the committee’s vote. Still, the committee voted “ought not to pass” on LD 1403.
Because the federal government did not act on this issue, the states are left to tackle safe harbor legislation themselves. A total of 15 states have enacted similar legislation, and more than 15 more are considering doing so. The Maine State Chamber would like to thank those committee members who supported the bill – specifically Rep. Dillingham for all her work on LD 1403.
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