Republicans in the Iowa House have passed legislation to shield businesses, churches and other organizations from lawsuits over COVID-19. Representative Gary Carlson, a Republican from Muscatine, said it’ll help reboot the economy.

“We are dealing with a very uncertain time and uncertainty is what holds economies back more than anything else,” Carlson said late this evening at the close of debate on the measure. “Countless businesses are concerned…they’re scared to death that they’re going to be sued.”

House Democratic Leader Todd Prichard of Charles City said the bill will reward businesses that haven’t taken steps to adequately protect customers and workers.

“We want to recover from COVID. We want businesses to thrive. We want workers to feel safe because we know that when workers feel safe and employers feel safe to go back to work, they will,” Prichard said. “Think about what you’re doing here, because you know what? Your decision and your vote has lives hanging in the balance.”

The legislation would bar people from filing civil lawsuits against health providers or individuals that have for the most part followed public health guidelines for COVID-19. The bill’s new liability protections would be retroactive to January 1st of this year. The bill now goes to the Senate. The Senate’s GOP leader has identified this proposal as a priority.