BOISE — Legislation intended to shield Idaho businesses, schools and government entities from lawsuits if someone catches COVID-19 headed to the governor’s desk on Tuesday.
The state Senate voted 32-2 to approve the measure that extends a law passed last summer during a special session called by Republican Gov. Brad Little due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Little signed that legislation last year that has an end date of July 1, 2021. The legislation now headed to his desk is the same as that legislation, but extends the end date to July 1, 2022.
The House approved the legislation 62-7 earlier this month.
The legislation drew protests at the Statehouse last summer amid concerns it protected bad actors in the government, turning the three-day special session into a chaotic event that saw anti-government activist Ammon Bundy arrested twice.
“I think most of you will recall during the special session we passed a qualified immunity bill,” Republican Sen. Todd Lakey said during debate on the Senate floor. “We put a one-year sunset on that bill. This bill simply extends that sunset for another year.”
Democratic Sen. Grant Burgoyne spoke against the legislation.
“I am opposed to liability immunity bills, so I won’t be voting for this,” he said. “But I do thank those who brought it for being responsible with the sunset clause and only extending it for a year, which I think is appropriate under the circumstances.”
More than 175,000 Idaho residents have been infected with the coronavirus and more than 1,900 have died, officials say.
More than 200,000 residents have now received both shots of the two-shot vaccine for the virus, and another 125,000 have received the first shot, according to state health officials.