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Rep. Readshaw amends landowner liability bill to speed passage


State Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, said the way appears cleared for action soon on his legislation to correct deficiencies in the state's landowner liability law.

Mr. Readshaw said he sponsored an amendment to his legislation (H.B. 13) as it was being considered last week by the House Game and Fisheries Committee that sharpens the focus of the bill to cover landowner liability related to hunting activities, trimming out other uses such as fishing, hiking and snowmobiling.

The amended version of the bill was reported out of committee by a unanimous vote, sending it to the full House for a vote, hopefully in the coming weeks.

Many landowners have been saying ‘no' to people requesting to use their land for recreational purposes, citing the case involving the Haas Farm in Lehigh County. Last year a judge ruled the Haas' were partially liable for a woman who was injured by stray bullet fired by a hunter on their property a half-mile away.

An out-of-court settlement was recently reached in the case. But in reaction, a growing number of property owners who previously had allowed hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities have closed them to the public.

Concern has been growing that if a large amount of previously public-accessible property is posted off limits, that it will have a detrimental impact on hunting-related businesses.

“My amendment narrows the bill to address the one recreational use that was the subject of the Haas Case, hunting,” said Rep. Readshaw. “Fishing, hiking and snowmobiling aren't activities that are going to cause bodily injury to someone a half-mile off the property. “

Mr. Readshaw noted that his amendment was co-sponsored by the majority and minority chairmen of the Game and Fisheries Committee, Reps. Ed Staback, D-Lackawanna, and Samuel Rohrer, R-Berks.

Last October, the House unanimously passed a liability protection bill, but the Senate failed to act on the measure before the end of session on Nov. 30.

 ”I believe we have now solidified the bipartisan support we need to get the House to move quickly on the amended bill and removed any obstacles that might have caused it to be held up again in the Senate,” Mr. Readshaw added.

 ”I'm confident we've got a bill that could become law in time for the fall hunting season.” 


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