Farmer Liability bill pending in House Gov’t Oversight panel
May 9th, 2013 by Ric Hanson
A newly-drafted bill on the fast track in the Iowa House would provide new liability protection to Iowa farmers. It’s in response to a February Iowa Supreme Court ruling that said a woman injured during a northeast Iowa farm tour had the right to sue the farm host. Representative Kevin Koester, a Republican from Ankeny, says farmers are now reluctant to allow anyone on their property for any activity. “Something should happen in the legislature this month on that so that we relieve the concern that many folks who hunt, fish and do other recreational purposes have access to private land without it being a liability headache for the landowner,” Koester says. A state law passed in 1967 granted private property owners liability protection if they allowed recreational activities like hunting and fishing.
“There’s concern about whether or not it’s safe regarding the liability of allowing people to do what they’ve always done,” Koester says. The bill will be considered in the House Government Oversight Committee next week and is the result of discussions among legislative leaders. Koester is co-chair of that committee. A bid to address this farmer liability issue was rejected by Senate Democrats in late April. Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids who is a lawyer, told his colleagues not to “buy into the hysteria” about the recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling.