Chamber Advocacy: Legislative Update and Action Items
As the Chamber continues to serve the business community with traditional services, we also strive to educate and advocate for business at the state and federal level. Each week Chamber President Kristin Craig and the Advocacy Committee will provide legislative updates. For more information or for questions about a specific bill, contact Kristin Craig at email@example.com or (812) 232-2391.
To: Chamber Members
From: Kristin Craig, President
Date: February 11, 2021
Re: Legislative Update/Action Items
Chamber Members –
As part of our ongoing mission of Building Business, Building Community, the Chamber is constantly engaging with our state legislature as they work through the
2021 Legislative Session. The following is a list of bills and subjects we are closely monitoring and/or recommending action regarding.
Legislative Action Items:
ACTION ITEM: COVID-19 Civil Liability (Board approved support on 1/28/21) Why are we taking action? The Chamber is closely monitoring all bills related to
COVID-19 Employer Liability issues and strongly supports the legislature tackling this key business issue. The proposed bill will provide employer liability protections for all businesses across our state and in our region. Specifically we support SB1 and HB1002 which outline that employer liability protections are necessary to protect those employers who have followed health guidelines as they seek to resume normal operations. These protections are imperative for businesses to recover economically from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional Notes: We are currently monitoring both bills for inclusion of language related to higher-education institutions, as this has major implications in our
community as the home of four higher education institutions. What do the current bills include? The following is a brief summary of the current bill. This will be updated periodically with any changes.
● SB1 – CIVIL IMMUNITY RELATED TO COVID-19 (MESSMER M) Provides civil immunity for damages resulting from exposure of an individual to COVID-19
on the premises owned or operated by a person, on any premises on which the person or an employee or agent of the person provided property or services to the individual, or during an activity managed, organized, or sponsored by the person. Defines “COVID-19 protective product” and provides civil immunity for harm that results from the design, manufacture, labeling, sale, distribution, or donation of a COVID-19 protective product, except for anact or omission that constitutes gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct (including fraud and intentionally tortious acts). Limits specified immunities to tort actions. Exempts fraud and intentionally tortious acts from specified immunities.
● HB1002 – CIVIL IMMUNITY RELATED TO COVID-19 (TORR J) Protects health care providers from professional discipline for certain acts or omissions related
to the provision of health care services during a state disaster emergency. Provides that the protection applies to the provision of health care services after February 29, 2020, and before April 1, 2022. Provides that a health care provider is not protected from professional discipline if the health care provider’s action, omission, decision, or compliance constitutes gross negligence or willful misconduct. Provides that a health care provider is not protected from professional discipline for actions that are outside the skills, education, and training of the health care provider, unless the health care provider’s actions are undertaken in good faith and in response to a lack of resources caused by a state disaster emergency. Specifies that orders and recommendations issued by local, state, and federal government agencies and officials during a state disaster emergency do not create new causes of action or new legal duties. Specifies that the orders and recommendations are
presumed irrelevant to the issue of the existence of a duty or breach of a duty.
Specifies that the orders and recommendations are inadmissible at trial to establish that a new cause of action has been created or proof of a duty or a breach of a duty. Prohibits bringing a civil action against another person based in whole or in part on an allegation that the person’s loss, damage, injury, or death was caused by the: (1) exposure to COVID-19; (2) transmission of COVID-19; or (3) contraction of COVID-19; unless the person establishes that the other person caused the loss, damage, injury, or death by an act or omission constituting gross negligence or willful misconduct. Prohibits filing a class action lawsuit against a defendant in a civil action allowed by the statute.
Specifies that a governmental entity or employee is not liable if a loss results from an act or omission arising from COVID-19 unless the act or omission constitutes gross negligence or willful misconduct. Provides that a person is not liable to a claimant for loss, damage, injury, or death arising from COVID-19 unless the claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that the person caused the loss, damage, injury, or death by an act or omission constituting gross negligence or willful misconduct. Provides immunity from civil liability to certain persons, entities, and facilities providing health care services after February 29, 2020, and before April 1, 2022, for certain acts or omissions related to the provision of health care services during a state disaster emergency.
Additional Legislative Items:
The following are bills we are monitoring on behalf of the business community. These are bills that could have an impact on our community and your individual business operations.
● HB1004 – SMALL BUSINESS RESTART GRANT PROGRAM (LINDAUER S)
Establishes the Hoosier hospitality small business restart grant program (program) to provide grants to eligible entities to accelerate economic recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Establishes the small business restart grant fund (fund). Provides that the Indiana economic development corporation (corporation) administers the program and fund. Provides criteria for grants. Allows the corporation to award grants from the fund. Makes an appropriation.
CHAMBER NOTES: This program will provide an excellent funding opportunity for tourism-related businesses in our area that have been impacted by the
pandemic. Given Terre Haute’s considerable investments in tourism-related activities, we are following this bill closely and look forward to seeing it benefit
businesses in our community.
● HB1235: WORK SHARING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS PROGRAM (TORR J)
Establishes a work sharing unemployment insurance program (program).Requires an employer that desires to participate in the program to submit a
work sharing plan for approval by the commissioner of the department of workforce development. Establishes the work sharing benefit as equal to an affected employee’s unemployment benefit reduced by a percentage equal to the percentage of the employee’s normal weekly work hours that the employee works under the approved work sharing plan.
CHAMBER NOTES: Any developments to work share programs could have significant workforce development implications for our region. We will continue to follow the development of this and related bills on the subject and how it could impact our business community.
● SB389: REPEALS STATE REGULATED WETLANDS LAW (GARDEN, MESSMER, ROGERS)
Repeals state regulated wetlands law. Repeals the law requiring a permit from the department of environmental management for wetland activity in a state
regulated wetland. Makes corresponding changes to eliminate references to that law. States that the repeal of that law is not intended to affect: (1) the
regulation in Indiana under the federal Clean Water Act of the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States; or (2) the authorization of the state of Indiana to administer the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit program. Provides that the repeal of that law extinguishes any judicial or administrative proceeding concerning an alleged violation of IC 13-18-22, an administrative rule concerning IC 13-18-22, or the terms of a permit issued under IC 13-18-22.
CHAMBER NOTES: Given our proximity to the Wabash River, as well as other natural wetlands, we will be following this bill closely as it could have
implications for long-term plans involving these areas, including businesses who regularly interact with wetland areas.
● HB1114: RESIDENTIAL BUILDING DESIGN ELEMENTS. (MILLER D)
Prohibits a municipality from regulating design elements of residential structures. Specifies certain exclusions from this prohibition. Provides that any rule, ordinance, or other regulation that conflicts with the prohibition is void. Provides that a person aggrieved by a violation of the bill’s provisions may file,
in a court having jurisdiction, a petition to obtain an injunction against the violation.
CHAMBER NOTES: A key tenant of the See You In Terre Haute Community Plan is the creation of a Unified Development Ordinance or UDO. We will be
following this bill closely to determine what type of implications this might have on any future local building-related ordinances.
● HB1309: PREGNANCY ACCOMMODATION (ENGLEMAN K)
Allows an employee to request an accommodation for the employee’s pregnancy. Requires an employer to respond to an employee’s request for an accommodation within a reasonable time frame. Provides that a request for accommodation does not require an employer to provide an accommodation for an employee’s pregnancy, or impose a duty or obligation upon the employer to provide an accommodation or an exception to the employer’s policies. Prohibits an employer from disciplining, terminating, or retaliating against an employee because the employee has requested or used an accommodation for the employee’s pregnancy.
CHAMBER NOTES: While the session began with a variety of pregnancy accommodation bills, this is the only one that seems to be moving forward at the moment. We are following this bill as it would certainly have implications for all local employers and employees.
How can I learn more? Once a month, the Chamber hosts a members-only Advocacy Forum and Q&A session with our local legislators. Registration required at
terrehautechamber.com/events. In addition, we will provide weekly legislative updates on this and all other bills we are watching via our weekly newsletter. If you
do not receive the newsletter, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.