New Version of RFRA Proposed in the House

In the House hopper and awaiting its first reading is HB 837, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, sponsored by Ed Setzler of Acworth, Barry Fleming of Harlem, Sam Teasley of Marietta, and Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City.

You may notice that there are no references in the bill to the least restrictive method of enforcing a compelling government interest, hallmarks of Josh McKoon’s Senate Bill 129, currently amended and tabled in the House Judiciary Committee. That’s because the meat of the bill is in Section 2, which says in part,

The provisions of subsections (a) and (b) of 42 U.S.C. Section 2000bb-1 as such existed on January 1, 2016, regarding government burdens on the free exercise of religion, shall apply to any government as defined in Code Section 50-15A-4.

42 U.S.C. Section 2000 is the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which is in this manner incorporated into the bill, seemingly an attempt to assuage those who say they could support a RFRA if it were exactly like the federal version.

The remainder of the bill appears to consist of definitions, and a sections that limit its use in prisons and correctional institutions, and disallows claims of sovereign immunity in cases where the plaintiff sues the government.

The bill will be up for a first reading this morning. If Speaker Ralston treats the measure as he has the other bills dealing with religious freedom, it is likely to be assigned to the Judiciary Committee.


Add a Comment