2015 State Religious Freedom Restoration Legislation

9/3/2015

Graphic of religious symbols

Seventeen states have introduced legislation this year regarding the creation of, or alteration to, a state religious freedom law. Currently, 21 states have Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs).

Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas currently have a RFRA, but have introduced legislation this year to amend or supplement their law. Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming are looking to add a RFRA or similar law to their state's laws. Arkansas and Indiana have enacted legislation on this topic in 2015, and Mississippi passed legislation in 2014.

Below is a list of legislation with final disposition listed alongside the bill when applicable.  Enacted legislation is in bold.

 


2015 Legislation

Jurisdiction

Bill Number

Summary

Arkansas

HB 1228

Enacts the Conscience Protection Act; provides remedies and penalties for violating or abusing religious protections; declares an emergency.

Arkansas

SB 975; Signed by Governor – 4/3/2015

Amends Arkansas law concerning the free exercise of religion; enacts the religious freedom restoration act; declares an emergency.

Colorado

HB 1171

Concerns a state freedom of conscience protection act.

Georgia

HB 29

Relates to state government; provides for the preservation of religious freedom; provides for a short title; provides for findings; provides for definitions; provides for penalties; provides for the granting of relief; repeals conflicting laws.

Georgia

HB 218

Relates to state government; provides for the preservation of religious freedom; provides for the granting of relief; provides for definitions; provides for a short title; provides for findings; provides for an effective date; repeals conflicting laws.

Georgia

SB 129

Relates to state government; provides for the preservation of religious freedom; provides for legislative findings; provides for definitions; provides for the granting of relief; provides for a short title; provides for an effective date; repeals conflicting laws.

Hawaii

HB 1160

Prohibits the State or any county from burdening any person's right to exercise religion absent that burden being the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest.

Indiana

HB 1632

Provides that a state or local government action may not substantially burden a person's right to the exercise of religion unless it is demonstrated that applying the burden to the person's exercise of religion is essential to further a compelling governmental interest, and the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest.

Indiana

SB 101; Signed by Governor – 3/26/2015

Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest; provides a procedure for remedying a violation; specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law.

Indiana

SB 50; Signed by Governor – 4/2/2015

Indicates that the law related to adjudicating a claim or defense that a state or local law, ordinance, or other action substantially burdens the exercise of religion of a person: (1) does not authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public; (2) does not establish a defense to a civil action or criminal prosecution for refusal by a provider to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public; and (3) does not negate any rights available under the Constitution of the State of Indiana. Defines the term provider.

Indiana

SB 568

Provides that a state or local government action may not substantially burden a person's right to the exercise of religion unless it is demonstrated that applying the burden to the person's exercise of religion is essential to further a compelling governmental interest, and the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest.

Maine SB 485 Enacts the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act.

Michigan

SB 4

Creates Michigan religious freedom restoration act.

Montana

HB 615; Failed

Revises laws related to the fundamental rights under the constitution; relates to constitutional amendment proposals.

Creates the Montana Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Nevada

AB 277

Prohibits state action from substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion under certain circumstances.

Nevada

SB 272

Prohibits state action from substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion under certain circumstances.

North Carolina

HB 348

Enacts the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

North Carolina

SB 550

Enacts the North Carolina religious freedom restoration act.

Oklahoma

HB 1371

Relates to the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act; relates to definitions; adds certain definition; prohibits state or subdivision from making certain claim under certain action; provides for codification; provides an effective date.

Oklahoma

SB 440

Relates to the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act;  relates to definitions and burden upon free exercise of religion; modifies definitions; authorizes certain action; authorizes certain relief; provides an effective date.

Oklahoma

SB 610

Relates to discrimination; relates to the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act; provides an effective date.

Oklahoma

SB 723

Relates to the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act;  relates to definitions and burden upon free exercise of religion; modifies definitions; authorizes certain action; authorizes certain relief; provides an effective date.

South Carolina

SB 127

Relates to the South Carolina Religious Freedom Act; prohibits restrictions on the free exercise of speech or religion during the course of any locality, municipality, county, or other state instrumentality proceeding in violation of the first amendment of the United States or Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution of South Carolina.

South Dakota

HB 1220; Failed - Adjourned

Provides for the free exercise of religion and to declare an emergency.

Texas

HJR 55

Proposes a constitutional amendment relating to the free exercise of religion; provides that the state, a county, municipality, political subdivision or agency may not burden a person's free exercise of religion unless necessary to further a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means; provides that a homeowners' association may not burden a person's free exercise of religion unless necessary to further a compelling quasi-governmental interest of the homeowners' association.

Texas

HJR 125

Proposes a constitutional amendment relating to a person's free exercise of religion.

Texas

SJR 10

Proposes a constitutional amendment relating to a person's free exercise of religion.

Utah

HB 66; Failed

Relates to religious freedom; affirms a person's religious freedom to act within the confines of the person's religious beliefs.

Utah HB 322; Failed Adds religious liberty to the list of exceptions in the Governmental Immunity Act; establishes the Religious Liberty Act; declares the Act is in furtherance of the rights and protections under the United States and State constitutions; coordinates the application of this bill to other statutory provisions; permits a person or entity seeking relief under the Act to obtain judicial relief, attorney fees, and costs for violations of a person's religious liberty.

Utah

HJR 5; Failed

Relates to the protection of religious rights; proposes to amend the Utah Constitution to enact a provision relating to religious rights.

West Virginia

HB 2508; Failed - Adjourned

Creates the West Virginia Freedom of Conscience Protection Act.

West Virginia

HB 2830; Failed - Adjourned

Concerns the West Virginia Freedom of Conscience Protection Act.

West Virginia

SB 487; Failed - Adjourned

Creates Freedom of Conscience Protection Act.

Wyoming

HB 83; Failed

Relates to religious freedom; creates a Religious Freedom Restoration Act; provides definitions; limits specified governmental actions that burden religious freedom as specified; authorizes claims and defenses against governmental action that burden religious freedom; provides for severability of the act.

 

 

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