On January 11, 2017, Reps. Stephen Humphrey & Dave Williams and Sens. Tim Neville & Vicki Marble introduced HB 17-1013, “Concerning a Person’s Free Exercise of Religion.”
- Specifies that no state action may burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless it is demonstrated that applying the burden to a person’s exercise of religion is essential to further a compelling governmental interest and the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest;
- Defines ‘exercise of religion’ as the practice or observance of religion. The bill specifies that exercise of religion includes the ability to act or refuse to act in a manner substantially motivated by a person’s sincerely held religious beliefs, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief; except that it does not include the ability to act or refuse to act based on race or ethnicity.
- Provides a claim or defense to a person whose exercise of religion is burdened by state action; and
- Specifies that nothing in the bill creates any rights by an employee against an employer unless the employer is a government employer.
The bill was introduced in the House and assigned to the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee. It is scheduled to be heard in committee on January 25, 2017 at 1:30 p.m.