State Senator Larry Obhof (R-Medina) announced the Senate's passage today of legislation providing legal protections for architects, engineers, contractors, surveyors and tradespersons who volunteer their expertise and services during declared emergencies.

"During an emergency, we need people to lend a helping hand without reservation," said Obhof, who co-sponsored the bill. "Existing laws could dissuade professionals from responding during crises, when their services are needed the most. House Bill 17 will help our communities to respond to and rebound from emergencies."

The proposed legislation protects volunteers who are acting within their field of expertise, shielding them in limited circumstances from tort liability for unintentional errors. Current law provides no protections against civil lawsuits for people in those professions who are working in their official capacities, even if they are volunteering their time during a crisis.

Immunity extends throughout the period of a declared emergency and for the 90 days immediately following.

The bill, which previously passed the House of Representatives by a unanimous vote, now heads to the Governor for his signature.

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