COLUMBUS — Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) announced today that Gov. Mike DeWine has signed House Bill 606 into law. Obhof called the bill a major step forward in protecting schools, healthcare providers and small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ohio’s small businesses and schools are working hard to reopen, bring back employees, and safely welcome their customers and students,” said Obhof. “This legislation helps provide the piece of mind they need to reopen as we work together to rebuild Ohio’s economy.”
The legislation protects against frivolous lawsuits that allege exposure to COVID-19 on the entity’s premises, unless it is found that the business owner, school or provider acted with reckless or intentional misconduct to spread the virus.
“With the signing of House Bill 606 by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, small business owners across the state can feel safer from unmerited COVID-19 lawsuits. We are very grateful to the Governor for knowing how important this legislation is to the small business community. With a recent NFIB survey indicating that 70 percent of Ohio entrepreneurs are fearful of such a lawsuit as they work to recover from the pandemic, Governor DeWine’s signing this important piece of legislation into law, means there is one less thing they need to worry over,” said Roger Geiger, Executive Director for NFIB in Ohio.
The Senate initially passed similar legislation, Senate Bill 308, in June. The House and the Senate each passed the finalized version of House Bill 606 in early September.
The legislation was supported by dozens of organizations, including the Ohio Manufacturers Association, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and the National Federation of Independent Business.
“When House Bill 606 is enacted, businesses will not be liable for claims of exposure, transmission, or contraction for COVID-19 unless they acted with reckless or intentional conduct or willful or wanton intentional misconduct. This law will not only protect Ohio small business owners who are doing everything they possibly can to ensure safe workplaces but will also provide the same necessary protections for local governments, schools, non-profits, and first responders. We truly appreciate the strong leadership shown by Speaker of the House Bob Cupp and Senate President Larry Obhof and for their understanding of how vital these protections are for Ohio entrepreneurs in getting it to the Governor’s desk with bipartisan support,” Geiger concluded.
The protections in House Bill 606 are temporary and would continue through September 30, 2021.