Julianne Young H Jud 8-26-20

Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, presents HB 6, her latest version of coronavirus civil liability immunity legislation, to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020 at the Idaho state Capitol.

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Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, presented HB 6, her latest version of coronavirus civil liability legislation to the House Judiciary Committee. “I’m going to emphasize a few things that this bill is not,” she said, “because we have been listening to the concerns that have been raised by the public and we have attempted to strike a very delicate balance between the concerns in the public and the concerns that our business community and our schools have brought to this committee.”

The bill is not tied to any emergency declaration, she said. It’s temporary, good only until July 1. “There will be time for further discussion of this bill when we get into session in January,” Young said. “This bill does not shield government agencies, federal govt agencies or any other agencies,” for their actions regarding COVID-19. “This is not the governor trying to get immunity,” she said. “This also is not an attempt to require businesses to become an enforcement arm for any state agency or health district or things like that. There have been concerns raised with the good-faith requirement in some of the other versions of the bill that this would be the case.”

She said the bill is aimed at something that "pragmatically may already be the case," because it would be difficult to prove how or where someone was infected with COVID-19. "What we are really hearing from our businesses and our schools is a crisis of confidence," she said. And even if a lawsuit didn't succeed, she said, "Sometimes the process is the punishment."

"This bill also is not an excuse for poor behavior," she said. That's why it excludes "willful or reckless misconduct."

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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