HARRISBURG – Rep. Dan Moul, R- Adams, thinks he can finally see the finish line in his fight to protect landowners from liability for the recreational use of their lands.
After seven years of pushing the bill, Moul expects House Bill 544 to pass through the House any day now before heading to the Senate and ultimately the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature.
“I’ve got assurances on this,” Moul told the Pennsylvania Record. “I think this time will be the charm. It’s a good bill, and I believe the governor will jump at the chance to sign it once it lands on his desk.”
Moul concedes that to get to this point, he has had to make almost as many concessions as there have been battles. To finally move the bill along, he agreed to take a provision out of it that would have required anyone unsuccessfully suing a landowner in such a scenario to be responsible for paying legal expenses.
“From day one, the trial attorneys have fought against that,” he said. “We finally had to amend that part out. I figured it was better to get at least a half of loaf over no loaf at all.”
The bill, which blocks all such lawsuits unless “extraneous circumstances” are involved, had the support of more than 30 organizations as its made its way through the legislature.
The Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform went as far as to send a letter to committee members in support of the bill.
“They and many other organizations have answered the bell in the way they have thrown their support behind this,” he said.
Up until now, many landowners had taken to prohibiting the use of their land for all such activities as their sole defense against mounting lawsuits.