A good Samaritan bill falls under the category "unfinished business" on the Senate calendar, and proponents fear that is where it will remain once lawmakers call the session a wrap.
The legislation is not a hot-button issue in the House or Senate, where conference committees still must work out differences on major bills affecting property taxes, education reform and Medicaid expansion. Some advocates fear that property tax reform will escape a compromise, just as it has done in the past.
The good Samaritan legislation would give architects and engineers immunity from lawsuits when they volunteer to do damage assessments after natural calamities and other disasters.
Bill Dikis, owner of Architectural Strategies LLC, said earlier this year in a Business Record story that it is difficult to recruit architects and engineers to conduct damage assessments in the wake of floods and other disasters because of concerns that they could face a lawsuit. Click here to read the story.
The Iowa House passed the legislation 57-40 on March 19 and promptly sent the bill to the Senate. A spokeswoman for the Iowa chapter of the American Institute of Architects expressed a concern lately that the bill could languish in the upper chamber.
Jim Carney, a lobbyist for the Iowa State Bar Association, which opposes the legislation, said the legislation would grant immunity where three other laws already provide such protection.
A position paper against the current legislation says, "It is clear that this legislation is a classic example of a solution in search of a problem."
The paper also said there is no data to support the idea that architects and engineers are vulnerable to lawsuits when they provide the volunteer damage assessments.