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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

ID coalition helps defeat bill to grant lawsuit immunity to pesticides industry

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Monday, February 19, 2024   

A coalition of advocacy groups has helped defeat a bill in the Idaho Legislature which would have given the pesticide industry blanket immunity from liability lawsuits.

The Pesticide Immunity Bill, Senate Bill 1245, was defeated 15-to-19 Friday by the Republican-controlled state Senate. The coalition was led by the Idaho Conservation League and included the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association and the Idaho Association of Resource Councils.

Jonathan Oppenheimer, governmental relations director for the Idaho Conservation League, said the motivation for them was consumer protection.

"We're not coming at this from a perspective of 'pesticides shouldn't be used,'" Oppenheimer explained. "We're coming at this from a perspective of, 'there should be justice for those who may be harmed by using products if they are not warned about those potential health consequences.'"

Oppenheimer noted the Senate's five Democrats joined with a group of right-wing Republicans to defeat the Idaho bill. He pointed out the pesticide industry is pushing similar bills in several other states, including Missouri. Iowa and Florida.

Liability-lawsuit immunity is controversial. Businesses argued it keeps them from getting hit with multimillion-dollar settlements, while consumer advocates countered it closes the courthouse door. Oppenheimer emphasized pesticide users who get sick would have little recourse.

"The pesticide industry is seeking broad immunity that would shield them from "failure to warn" claims that basically relate to the label that is provided on the pesticide products," Oppenheimer outlined. "As long as that label is approved by EPA and that the pesticide is approved for use in the United States, they would be immune from any liability under state law or federal law because federal law defers to the states relative to liability."

Only a few major industries have either federal or state immunity from lawsuits. The best known are firearms manufacturers and the computer technology sector. In addition, most federal, state and local governments are immune when they are performing statutory duties.


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