The House Agriculture and Forestry Committee approved a bill Tuesday aimed at protecting Soil and Water Conservation District personnel from lawsuits. The action clears way for a final vote by the full House of Representatives.
SB 324 by Sen. Donnie Chesteen, R-Geneva, would extend the limited immunity from civil liability granted state soil and water personnel to district supervisors and employees who loan or rent equipment and supplies for conservation projects. The immunity would only relate to use of the equipment and supplies.
Supporters say the legislation will help local Soil and Water Conservation Districts be more competitive with surrounding states in securing federal funds for feral hog control. Currently, district Soil and Water Conservation Committees must purchase private liability insurance to cover the rental of hog traps, grain drills and other equipment. The policies are expensive and difficult to get approved, according to the Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Committee.
The companion bill, HB 488, is sponsored by Rep. Danny Crawford, R-Athens. It received a favorable report from the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee last week.