Who wrote the bill for special corporate immunity?
The Governor has called a special legislative session next week to address two issues, general election procedures and special civil immunity for businesses who would otherwise be at fault for failing to take reasonable steps to protect workers and customers from the spread of coronavirus, and it appears this special immunity promoted by the Governor and Republican leadership is not up for deliberation.
In fact, the joint committee that was tasked crafting the legislation actually had no say in the language of the bill, which is riddled with problems. But if it didn’t draft the bill, who did? Republican leadership? The Governor? Special interest groups? Or perhaps some combination of the three behind closed doors? We don’t know. All we know is that this bill was presented to the committee by its chairs in its permanent form for consideration. No doubt why it has garnered bipartisan opposition.
This bill feels less like a law written for the people and by the people, and more like industry exploiting the legislative process to manipulate the rights of customers and workers who may no longer have the ability to hold institutions accountable when they cause us harm by violating public health measures. But make no mistake. Coronavirus alone did not give rise to this bill. Our failure as a state and nation to successfully mitigate the virus, as so many other countries have, did. But if institutions are worried about the financial impact of the outbreak, they should be leveraging their clout in the legislature to support aggressive public health measures that will eliminate viral spread in our communities to get our kids back in school, worshippers back in church, customers back in stores, employees back to work, and our lives back to normal.
Like many of you, my faith in institutions ability or willingness to protect us right now is low. Sometimes I feel like the only people I can trust to protect my family are within the walls of my own home, causing a paranoia that is further alienating amidst social distancing measures. And if I have any power as a substitute state representative next week, I will not be using it to deepen peoples’ distrust in government by giving special treatment to the institutions that may be responsible for harming them.