UPDATED: Legislation to provide liability protections to businesses and others necessary as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a topic of discussion since the first week of the 2021 session back in January. On the final day of the legislative session, the House passed an amended version of a bill supported by many groups across the state.
Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, would provide protections for health care providers, businesses, organizations, schools, and individuals who have reopened and are following recommended guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic. The bill has bipartisan support from a large coalition of groups from the business, medical, education, retail, and many other sectors.
Earlier in the month, the House passed a narrowed-down version of the bill in committee but failed to pass the bill on the floor before the clock hit midnight and the legislative break began.
On Tuesday, Senate Bill 5 was presented on the House floor with amendments that made changes to the bill that came as a result of conversations with hospital groups, chambers of commerce, and others over the break.
Rep. Ed Massey said the amended version of the bill fulfills the purpose of protecting businesses from being sued on issues related to COVID-19 while they are doing their best to comply with regulations. He stated the bill is now very focused on specific definitions of what is protected and who the legislation applies to.
The bill does not give blanket protections to bad actors, Massey said, but instead provides some relief to many businesses whose operations have been grossly impacted by the pandemic.
“Businesses have adapted to new and ever-changing guidelines and remained on the front lines working to help keep our economy going and our fellow Kentuckians safe throughout the pandemic. Without liability protections, Kentucky risks delaying our recovery and stunting job growth. The Kentucky Chamber is supportive of the amended version of Senate Bill 5 and thank the legislature for passing the bill,” Kentucky Chamber Vice President of Public Affairs Kate Shanks said.
Senate Bill 5 passed the bill 24-14. It will now be sent to the governor.