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Friday, 18 September 2020 17:59

Revamped COVID-19 Biz Immunity Bills Move from MI House Committee

Written by Laina G. Stebbins, Michigan Advance

Index

A package of GOP bills to shield companies from liability during COVID-19 passed out of a Michigan House panel Sept. 16, after incorporating feedback from opponents who had ripped into the bills the day before.

The legislation has been a major priority for business groups, led by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which have opposed many of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency actions aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. 

 

“The legislation would incentivize job providers and others to follow public health guidance, executive orders and the like,” the chamber said in a statement. “It does so by telling them that, if they take reasonable steps to follow the rules, they will be protected against baseless lawsuits, including exposure and other personal injury claims.”

 

House Bills 6030, 6031, 6032, 6101 and 6159 were reported with favorable recommendation from the House Judiciary Committee.
 
All bills are sponsored by Republicans except HB 6101, which is sponsored by state Rep. Wendell Byrd (D-Detroit). Corresponding corporate immunity bills in the Senate---SB 1022, 1023 and 1024---have not yet moved from the Senate Committee on Economic and Small Business Development.

 

The legislation comes as the state continues to crack down on businesses that violate safety protocols during COVID-19. In a statement Sept. 17, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) announced it had issued citations to 19 businesses---totaling $51,400---for “serious violations” in following the state’s COVID-19 safety and health workplace guidelines.

 

Michigan has had more than 113,000 coronavirus cases and 6,600 deaths.

 

Sept. 15's version of the legislation, before each bill was reworked and adopted with substitutions on Sept. 16, had received strong pushback from an employment attorney and a union representative.


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