Lawmakers react to Gov. Wolf’s veto on COVID-19 Civil Liability Bill

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A bill that would protect from civil lawsuits related to the coronavirus was vetoed by Governor Wolf, lawmakers react to how this could affect a spectrum of businesses

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Reaction Tuesday to Governor Wolf’s veto of legislation that would have provided liability protection to a wide spectrum of businesses from civil lawsuits connected to COVID-19.

The governor argued the legislation was too broad and would actually encourage unsafe actions related to the coronavirus.

The bill would have made it much tougher to sue businesses — including healthcare providers and school districts for COVID-19 related claims. Lawmakers reacted to the governor’s veto.

“The bill was simply a targeted safe harbor for those businesses that were complying with CDC guidelines and the guidelines of state government,” said Sen. Lisa Baker- (R) 20th District.

Senator Baker insisted it would provide some legal protection for businesses already hard hit by COVID-19 safety restrictions placed into effect by the commonwealth.

“It would have given them safe harbor to temporarily during the pandemic so they won’t be in fear of constantly being sued as a result of COVID-19,” Senator Baker said. 

“My concern was it was too broad. It covered too many businesses with a backup umbrella of immunity,” said Sen. John Yudichak (I) 14th District.

State Senator Yudichak voted against the legislation. The bill passed the House and Senate with mostly Republican support and Democratic opposition. He insisted it needs more work.

“This bill was really a broad overreach, that’s why I did not support it. We do need certain protections, we got to have short term limited liability protection. This just went a little too far,” Senator Yudichak said.

Governor Wolf said the legislation would have provided legal protection for businesses that are not complying with the state’s COVID-19 safety guidelines.

His veto message reads in part:

“At a time when the Coronavirus is spreading rapidly, we need to be taking measures to ensure compliance with public health orders and improve safety practices. We should not be providing protection for noncompliance or carelessness.”

To see the latest on COVID-19 in the commonwealth, visit our PA Dept. of Health latest info page.

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