Idaho lawmakers discuss Covid-19 liability

by Victor Corral Martinez
Staff Writer | July 30, 2020 1:00 AM

The Idaho legislature’s judiciary and rules working group met in session to discuss limited liability for employers during the COVID-19 pandemic. No votes were made but the lawmakers heard from many lobbyists.

The working group of House and Senate judiciary committee members have agreed to meet again on Thursday for a special session to talk and create a plan for liability concerns.

Karen Echeverria of the Idaho School Boards Association requested a special session for COVID-19 liability issues for education workers, noting the increase of responsibilities for teachers who will be having to enforce masks for children if schools reopen.

Idaho State Senator, Kevin Thayn commented on healthcare officials changing their minds on policy and potentially making politically motivated health decisions.

Paul Stark of the Idaho Education Association stated the limited ability to social-distance teachers in the classroom setting from students.

Seth Grigg of the Idaho Association of Counties discussed the potential liability issues for jury trials, elections and risks for county workers.

A representative from the Idaho Chamber Alliance suggested that any liability changes should keep safeties for employees filing worker compensation cases.

The other concern is not limiting liability for businesses, potentially conducting business in disregard for health mandates and reckless behavior.

Idaho House Representative, Sage Dixon, believes that limited liability protection is fundamental for a healthy recovery for allowing a business to operate in a time of COVID-19 disruptions to businesses.

In counties like Boundary and Bonner with many small businesses, a liability suit could ruin business owners.

The limited liability is also important for school districts and plays a significant concern for lawmakers like Dixon.

“Our conversations will also involve protections for school districts, as we seek to get children back to class in the fall.”