Senators voted 35-3 to send HB 66 back to the House, where it is possible some of its provisions could be added to House Bill 57, lawmakers said. The speaker’s bill was in a conference committee June 29 to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions.
Also on June 29, the state Senate voted 33-2 to approve House Bill 59, which would limit schools’ liability for potential lawsuits by students, teachers or other workers alleging exposure to COVID-19.
An earlier version of the bill would have included lawsuits over any infectious disease.
The bill includes both public and private schools, including K-12 and higher education. Schools would not be protected if they fail to follow the policies set by the school and its governing body.
Senators also approved House Bill 19 on a 28-9 vote and sent it back to the House. The bill would make retailers, restaurants and hotels with no more than 50 employees eligible for the state’s Quality Jobs incentive program, which subsidizes creating new jobs.
Senators amended the bill to specify that only retailers harmed by COVID-19 are eligible.
Those types of business currently are not eligible for the program because they don’t drive economic growth, skeptical lawmakers said, adding that the current economic uncertainty made it unwise to commit to new tax breaks.
But much like with other new tax cuts and incentives that a business task force is pushing for this year, supporters said the change would benefit struggling businesses and their workers, ultimately helping to support the state’s tax base.
The special session must end by 6 p.m. June 30. Lawmakers were planning for a long day June 29, with the "must pass" state budget still to be finalized.