UPDATE: The bill was referred to the Wyoming House Rules Committee. The move may effectively kill the bill for the two-day special session since there is little chance that the Rules Committee will consider the bill before the end of the day Saturday when the session ends. The Bill may be brought back for consideration in a June special session.

A bill that would give Wyoming businesses and property owners immunity from most lawsuits filed because someone was exposed to or contracted COVID 19 passed the Wyoming Senate early Saturday morning and now moves on to the Wyoming house

Senate File 1005 is sponsored by Senator Dave Kinskey [R-Sheridan/Johnson counties] and has several co-sponsors in both the House and Senate.

The bill would grant immunity to civil lawsuits against businesses and property owners for exposing people to the coronavirus unless the exposure was intentional. It passed the Senate on a 23-6 vote with one excused.

The Senate passed the legislation on third and final reading as Senators worked early into Saturday morning in a two-day special legislative session devoted to funding and issues related to the COVID -19 pandemic. Lawmakers in both houses of the legislature are scheduled to convene again on Saturday. The House on Friday voted 40-20 against a similar House bill.

Opponents of the bill in the Senate argued that it should be defeated because the public had not had adequate time to comment on the measure, which was only posted on the legislature's website on the day before the special session.

The legislature is widely expected to convene at least one more special session in 2020, possibly during the week of June 29 for what may be a five-day session. The Legislature is allowed up to 20 days in special sessions, leaving 18 more available after Saturday.

The economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic and extremely low oil prices have essentially rendered much of the budget approved by lawmakers in the 2020 budget session earlier this year unworkable, meaning lawmakers will probably have to meet again to make changes in the budget.

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