Ohio lawmakers pass COVID-19 legal protections for business, individuals
By Beth Wanless, Ohio DREALTORS Director of Government Affairs
The Ohio House and Senate worked together the first week of September to pass House Bill 606, a measure to provide qualified immunity from certain COVID-related lawsuits.This bill is now on its way to Gov. Mike DeWine for his signature.
The bill was introduced in an effort to provide protections to businesses, as well as individual citizens against COVID-related lawsuits. Rep. Diane Grendell (R-Chesterland), the sponsor of H.B. 606, said, “every industry in our state will benefit from this legislation. Giving businesses, schools, and individuals a chance to return to normal while granting them peace of mind is necessary for our continued success.”
These protections extend to healthcare professionals, schools, universities, small businesses, and individuals, including REALTORS and their clients. It is important to understand that reckless or intentional behavior is not protected under H.B. 606. This means that reasonable care must still be exercised by REALTORS to follow the necessary protocols, such as social distancing, wearing masks, etc. in order to qualify for the protections afforded by HB 606.
Although the bill stalled while the Ohio House of Representatives underwent leadership changes, Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) called the bill back into action and sent it to conference committee where House and Senate legislators could negotiate changes and agree on the bill’s final language.
In the final version, protection to businesses and individuals is extended until Sept. 30, 2021. The bill will go into effect 90 days after the governor’s signature and will be retroactive to when the emergency order was signed on March 9, 2020.
The final version of HB 606 passed the Ohio House and Senate on Sept. 2 and was delivered to Gov. DeWine for his signature shortly thereafter.
Ohio REALTORS supports House Bill 606 and applauds the legislature for passing this important legislation to protect hard-working REALTORS and their clients against lawsuits.