Proposed Law Would Allow OK Churches To Shelter Disaster Victims

Friday, January 10th 2014, 6:33 pm
By: News 9

An Oklahoma lawmaker wants churches to be protected against lawsuits if they open their doors during state or federal disasters.

State Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R - Slaughterville) has proposed a bill that would allow churches and non-profit organizations to offer shelter without fear of liability if someone gets hurt. House Bill 2325, or the "Good Samaritan Law," would expand an existing law.

"This is something that people who are being Good Samaritans should not have to worry about," said Cleveland.

Cleveland said he wants to give more incentive for those groups to open their doors in a catastrophe.

"It's basically kind of like when you have coverage for doctors or nurses who pull over to help with an accident victim, this is just to give them and make sure there is no liability on their part," explained Cleveland.

In the aftermath of the May tornado in Moore, churches across the area became staging grounds, food distribution centers and temporary shelters for storm victims and relief workers.

Many church leaders, like Pastor Doug Brewer of Southgate Baptist Church in Moore, did not realize they could be liable if someone was injured during that time.

"I like the thought of it and I wish that more and more we could see how to help people and know how to meet needs and do that without having to worry about the litigation," said Brewer.

Cleveland filed this bill for the upcoming legislative session, which starts Feb. 3.