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SB 215 - Limits State and Local Governmental Authority Over a Religious Activity - Montana Key Vote

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Title: Limits State and Local Governmental Authority Over a Religious Activity

Vote Smart's Synopsis:

Vote to pass a bill that limits state and local governmental authority over a religious activity.

Highlights:

 

  • Defines “substantially burden" as any action that directly or indirectly constrains, inhibits, curtails, or denies the exercise of religion by any person or compels any action contrary to a person's exercise of religion and includes but is not limited to withholding of benefits, assessment of criminal, civil, or administrative penalties, or exclusion from governmental programs or access to governmental facilities (Sec. 4-1).

  • Alleges the following of the history of the United States(Sec. 2):

    • The framers of the United States Constitution, recognizing free exercise of religion as an inalienable right, secured its protection in the first amendment to the United States constitution;

    • The framers of the Montana constitution, recognizing free exercise of religion as a fundamental right, secured its protection in the Montana constitution;

    • Laws and other state action that are neutral toward religion may burden the exercise of religion as surely as laws intended to interfere with religious exercise;

    • State action should not burden exercise of religion without compelling justification;

    • Before 1990, laws and other state action burdening exercise of religion had to be justified by a compelling governmental interest; and

    • The compelling governmental interest test outlined in prior federal court rulings is workable and strikes a sensible balance between religious liberty and competing governmental interests.

  • Establishes the purpose of this act is to (Sec. 3):

    • Restore the compelling governmental interest test and to guarantee its application in all cases in which the exercise of religion is substantially burdened by state action; and

    • Provide a claim or defense to a person or persons whose exercise of religion is substantially burdened by state action.

  • Prohibits state action from substantially burdening a person's right to the exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless it is demonstrated that applying the burden to that person's exercise of religion (Sec. 5-1):

    • Is essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and

    • Is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

Title: Limits State and Local Governmental Authority Over a Religious Activity

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