The Next Steps for the Pastor Protection Act / FADA

On Friday, the Senate passed its substitute for House Bill 757, the Pastor Protection Act. The substitute added language from Senator Greg Kirk’s First Amendment Defense Act that forbids government interference with a natural person’s or faith based organization’s belief that marriage is reserved to two people.

The measure is headed back to the House, which, according to the Clerk’s office has the following options:

  • The House can disagree with the Senate’s changes.  This is the default action, since the bill was passed in the House under a structured rule.  The measure would then go to back to the Senate,
    • The Senate could insist on its version of the bill, sending it back to the House, and leading to a conference committee of 3 House members and 3 Senators.
    • The Senate could retreat from its position, which would have the effect of removing the FADA language from the bill, and passing it as it originally came from the House.
  • The bill’s sponsor, Kevin Tanner, could move to agree with the Senate’s amendments.  This would set up a vote by the House on the amended bill.
    • If the House votes in favor, the bill goes to the governor.
    • If the House votes against, it is the same as a disagree, and the bill goes back to the Senate.
  • Tanner could move to agree with the Senate’s version as amended by the House. Tanner would presumably have an amendment in hand, which could be anything from removing the FADA language to offering a substitute bill.
    • If the House votes in favor, the measure as amended by the House goes to the Senate for a vote.
      • If the Senate votes in favor of the House amended version, then that version goes to the governor for his signature.
      • If the Senate votes against the House amended version, the bill dies.
    • If the House votes against, it is the equivalent of a disagreement with the Senate version, and the bill goes back to the Senate. See Step 1

Assuming the House doesn’t want to accept the version of the bill as sent by the Senate, it will need to decide if a conference committee or a single amendment solution is the better response. The single amendment version would presumably be a faster way to get the issue behind the legislature with a minimal amount of debate. The conference committee offers the opportunity for negotiation over the best way to resolve the issue, but could drag the measure on until well after crossover day.


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