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BPAA State Policy Update - February 26, 2021

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COVID-19 Updates and Tracking 


COVID Liability Protections & Updates 

  • Florida Business Liability Protections Bill Delayed in State Senate Senate and House leaders have fast-tracked identical bills. The Senate version, however, was held up Monday when Senate Judiciary Chair Jeff Brandes was delayed in another meeting. 
    • A scheduled committee vote on a high-profile bill that would protect businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits was delayed Monday after the measure’s primary sponsor, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, was delayed in another meeting. 
    • Senate Commerce and Tourism Chairman Sen. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, told The News Service of Florida that the lawsuit-limitation bill (SB 72) would most likely be considered at his committee’s next meeting, now scheduled for March 2, the same day as the start of the 2021 legislative session. Read more here.  
  • The Latest: Governor extends Oregon’s state of emergency Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday extended Oregon’s declaration of a state of emergency until May 2 as confirmed COVID-19 cases drop but hundreds of new cases continue to be reported daily. Read the full story at AP. 
  • Missouri Senate passes COVID-19 liability protections A bill that would protect businesses, churches, health care facilities and other entities from liability of COVID-19 exposure is now headed to the Missouri House after passing in the state Senate on Tuesday. Senate Bill 51, sponsored by state Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, would protect entities from civil actions related to exposure to COVID-19 unless the exposure was due to recklessness or willful misconduct. The bill also would allow entities to be exempt from liability if an exposure warning notice is posted at the entrance. Read more at Fulton Sun.  
  • Arkansas Gov: COVID-19 directives now recommendations, mask mandate set to end March 31 Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on Friday that the state's COVID-19 directives will now be considered "guidance" which do not carry penalties for businesses or individuals. He also announced Arkansas' mask mandate will end on March 31 if the state reached certain goals. 
    • The governor held a news conference Friday where he extended his emergency order another 30 days. The previous emergency order was set to expire on Saturday. The order includes Medicaid reimbursement for telehealth, business liability protections and remote learning. He said it is necessary while lawmakers work on legislation in Arkansas that addresses those issues. Read more at KATV.  
  • Court upholds California’s COVID-19 workplace rules requiring testing, sick pay Saying the state has wide authority to create rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, a San Francisco Superior Court judge on Thursday upheld California’s COVID-19 emergency workplace regulations in place. The ruling heads off a challenge to the regulations by small businesses and trade groups, who had said California’s rules are too burdensome and should not be enforced. Read more at Sacbee. 
  • 50-State Update On COVID-19 Business Liability Protections A number of states have passed or are considering passing legislation to shield certain businesses from liability from claims for injury caused by exposure to COVID-19. Generally, the laws require that the business was in compliance with relevant guidance at the federal, state or local level in order for the protection to apply. See the 50-state review here. 


Minimum Wage 

  • Bill to raise Utah minimum wage to $15 an hour stalls in House committee A bill that would incrementally increase Utah’s minimum wage to a peak of $15 an hour by July 2026 stalled in a House committee on Thursday, as Republicans worried it would kill jobs and hurt the economy prevailed over Democrats who said it would help lift people out of poverty. 
    • Freshman Rep. Clare Collard, D-Magna and the bill’s sponsor, told her colleagues ahead of the vote that the proposal would affect approximately 19,000 Utahns who are currently making the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour — a figure that hasn’t increased with inflation since 2008. Read more here.  
  • New Mexico House committee debates $15 minimum wage bill House lawmakers are deliberating bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage once again.  Back in 2019, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill that would gradually increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2023. House Bill 110 would accelerate that timeline, and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024.  Read full story here.  


Sports Betting 

  • Highly anticipated bill would allow for sports betting to begin in Maryland While sports betting in Maryland is now legal, the General Assembly still needs to create a mechanism to make it happen. House Speaker Adrienne Jones sponsored a measure that outlines three types of licenses and how many will be awarded. House Bill 940 is one of the most anticipated bills this session. The legislation also has language to help ensure minority participation. Read more here.  
  • Washington state regulators move forward with sports betting rules The Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) on Wednesday approved “pre-licensing qualification rules,” which lay out a list of what interested sportsbook operators can begin to pull together ahead of the application process. Read the full story here. 
  • State senator lays out landscape for legal sports betting Allowing adults 21 or older to bet on professional sports in person and online in Massachusetts would generate meaningful, but not game-changing, revenue for the state, a key senator said Monday as he highlighted a bill that’s the product of nearly three years of study and consideration. Read more here. 


Political Rundown 

  • WISCONSIN SEN: Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry (D) launched his campaign for Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R) seat on Wednesday. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)  
  • CALIFORNIA: While Recall Election Is Likely, Newsom Is Poised to Survive It
    The Golden State has only gotten bluer since the last gubernatorial recall in 2003. 
  • FLORIDA GOV: State Sen. Jason Pizzo (D) “said Monday that he will run for reelection to the Florida Senate'' in 2022, ruling out a bid for the governor’s mansion. Pizzo, who represents part of Miami-Dade County, had been floated as a possible challenger to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Florida Politics 
  • MASS GOV: Former state Rep. Geoff Diehl (R) “is giving serious consideration to a run for governor in 2022.” In 2018, Diehl cleared a Republican primary for the U.S. Senate but was “handily defeated” by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D). Lowell Sun 
  • FLORIDA: Nikki Fried Jockeying to Secure Spot as Top Challenger to DeSantis
    She hasn’t officially launched a bid, but her moves have created a “sense of inevitability.” 
  • ARKANSAS: Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin Drops GOV Bid, Launches Campaign for Attorney General
    Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Leslie Rutledge remain in the GOP primary. 
  • ILLINOIS: State Sen. Darren Bailey Announces 2022 GOV Bid; The Republican has led opposition to Pritzker’s pandemic response. 
  • PENNSYLVANIA: 2018 Lt. Gov. nominee Jeff Bartos (R) “left his nonprofit organization on Tuesday, a necessary step if he wants to replace” retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R). (Washington Post) Bartos took another step toward a potential bid by filing a statement of candidacy with the FEC in order to raise campaign funds. (FEC)  
  • GOP Starts 2021 Redistricting With Smaller Advantage Than in 2011 Republicans do not have as large of an advantage in redistricting as they did 10 years ago, but “the GOP is in charge in states with 188 districts. A decade ago, Democrats were in charge in states with 44 seats; they’ll oversee 73 seats’ worth this time.” (Charlie Cook, National Journal
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