Two weeks after failing to override the governor's veto of a bill involving mobile home park operators, the House of Representatives passed a measure Tuesday that would eliminate civil liability for any business or person providing access to a safe place during severe weather as long as they are acting in good faith.
The intent of House Bill 2419 is to give liability protection to all businesses and homeowners who opened their businesses or homes to people seeking shelter during severe weather.
“It's a good Samaritan bill,” said Rep. John Enns, the measure's author. “Obviously they're going to feel a lot better about saying, ‘Come into my structure; there's a storm on the way. I won't be held liable,' and we can all feel good about it.”
The Senate last month revised HB 2419 and voted 42-0 to pass it the day after the veto override of HB 2296 failed in the House. HB 2296 would have given liability protection to mobile home park operators who allowed residents to take shelter in their office during severe weather.
The House voted 89-2 Tuesday to pass HB 2419. It now goes to the governor's desk.
Gov. Mary Fallin said she vetoed HB 2296 because by lifting liability for mobile home park owners, the bill treated one group of business owners differently from all other business owners. Furthermore, it did not encourage businesses to provide a safe
Her veto occurred two days before a tornado struck Woodward on April 15 and killed six people, including mobile home park tenants. Had the governor signed the bill, it would not have been a factor because it would not have taken effect until Nov. 1.
HB 2419 was changed so that the measure would take effect immediately upon her signature.
The measure, by Enns, R-Enid, originally was written to prohibit liability for persons offering his or her storm shelter to others in times of severe weather if the owner was acting in good faith and an injury was not caused by the willful neglect or misconduct of the owner.
“I recognized that the bill I had over here initially was a flawed bill,” Enns said. “This was not politically played at all. We saw an opportunity for a better bill.”
After the veto override on the other bill failed, the Senate made changes that expanded the scope of HB 2419 and approved it.