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Bill limiting rescue workers' liability passes House

Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) The House approved a bill Tuesday that would limit the right to sue the government over its responses to fires and disasters and its searches for missing people.

The bill also would limit the rights of military members to sue the state if they're hurt on the job. The was introduced at the request of Gov. Frank Murkowski.

Rep. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, said the measure is intended to prevent people responding to emergencies from worrying about whether their agency is going to be sued.

She said it would keep the state treasury from being up for grabs in rescues, fires and other disasters, where people can be hurt even if workers do the best job they can.

Democrats argued the bill takes rights away from members of the armed forces at the same time many people are talking about honoring their service.

Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, said the bill also takes away people's rights to hold the government accountable for mistakes.

McGuire said the bill treats military workers the same as nearly all other states do.

House Bill 245 passed 21-15. Republicans Nancy Dahlstrom, Pete Kott, Bob Lynn, Beverly Masek, Dan Ogg, Paul Seaton and Bruce Weyhrauch joined minority Democrats in opposing the bill.

The vote could be reconsidered Wednesday.

If the outcome does not change, the bill would go to the Senate.

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