Gov. Ivey open to special session on COVID-19 business liability protections

Updated: Oct. 19, 2020 at 9:12 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Gov. Kay Ivey said a special sessions is possible to address COVID-19 business liability protections and economic incentive packages. She talked about these issues at the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce forum Thursday.

Ivey said businesses have raised concerns about the lack of liability protections during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many economic incentive packages are also expected to be set this year.

“Addressing this issue as well as many others may very well necessitate that I call a special session before the legislature comes back into regular session next February," Ivey said. “While I’ve not made a final decision on this, I can assure you I’m in touch with our legislative leaders, both the Republican majority and the Democrat minority in the event we go this route.”

The governor said it is imperative that businesses can operate safely and efficiently.

“And now more than ever, this requires that we have a stable, predictable legal environment in order to avoid even greater damage to our economy and the livelihood of all Alabamians,” she explained.

Sen. Arthur Orr proposed a bill during the previous legislative session to protect businesses from COVID-19-related lawsuits in certain instances. State lawmakers ended the regular session early this year with only tackling the budgets and the local bills.

Other Republican lawmakers are on board with a special session, including Sen. Will Barfoot, R-Pike Road, Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, and Rep. Reed Ingram, R-Pike Road.

“As a small business owner myself, I know that even one frivolous lawsuit could be catastrophic to a small business. Business owners have risked so much that I know they are doing what they can to protect their customers and employees,” Chambliss said.

Barfoot said he wants to see lawmakers change the law to stop the federal government stimulus checks and PPP money from being taxed by the state.

In the past, Democratic lawmakers have expressed concerns for safety when meeting in the statehouse. Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, has also said he is concerned for lawmakers' safety as they cram into the statehouse.

The governor admits there are challenges to holding a session.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic there are obviously many challenges that must be addressed to doing this,” she said.

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