Evan Jenne laments COVID-19 liability proposals

Evan Jenne
Liability protections are a Republican priority.

As Republicans forge ahead with plans to enact COVID-19 liability protections in Florida, House Minority Co-Leader Evan Jenne on Monday said Democrats will continue to dig their heels in against the legislation. 

Speaking to reporters, Jenne conceded that Democrats face an uphill battle. Nevertheless, he said they will push back wherever they can.

“We will fight like cats and dogs,” Jenne told reporters over Zoom. “We will fight tooth and nail. We’ll do everything we possibly can. We’ll use every tool in our toolbox to try to slow these bills down, modify them however we can.”

Ahead of the 2021 Legislative Session, Republican leaders have fast-tracked legislation that seeks to shield various businesses and institutions from frivolous COVID-19 related claims. 

The multiple Republican-proposed protections extend to businesses, schools and health care providers such as nursing homes.

Proponents contend the protections are needed to fend of cash-grabbing attorneys. Among other points, they also suggest the protections can reassure weary business owners operating amid the pandemic.

Critics, including AARP, meanwhile, claim the legislation will disarm Floridians.

“Most of it is geared to make it more difficult for the everyday citizenry and individual Floridians to have any say in how this thing moves forward,” Jenne said.

Jenne further lamented that most of the proposed COVID-19 legislation seems to serve political interests rather than Floridians. 

“It’s sad that we live in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of a recession, and leadership’s thought in both chambers seems to be, how do we make sure that the people that fund our campaigns are taken care of, first and foremost,” he added.

Notably, a Florida Chamber poll suggests Floridians support COVID-19 liability protections. 

According to the poll, 74% of likely voters said they support business protections, and 78% favor protections for doctors, hospitals and nursing homes.

On the other hand, Jenne credited Republican Rep. Ardian Zika‘s proposal to create stiffer penalties for vaccine-related fraud schemes.

Jenne described HB 9 as one of the few COVID-related bills that would “help people.”

The 2021 Legislative Session begins March 2.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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