Amend the bill by striking out everything after the enacting clause and before the summary and inserting the following:
‘Sec. 1. 5 MRSA c. 337-D is enacted to read:
PRESERVATION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
This chapter may be known and cited as "the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act."
The Legislature makes the following findings:
The purposes of this Act are:
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
This amendment, which is the minority report, replaces the bill. It codifies legislative findings that summarize the enshrinement of the right to the free exercise of religion in the United States Constitution and the Constitution of Maine and case law of the United States Supreme Court interpreting the fundamental and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, as well as the extent to which a legislative body can legislate in this area.
Specifically, the amendment enacts the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act, which has as its purpose the restoration of the compelling interest test as set forth in Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), and Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963). The amendment guarantees the application of the compelling interest test in all cases in which the government substantially burdens the exercise of religion and provides a claim or defense to a person whose exercise of religion is burdened by the government.
This amendment provides that the government may not directly or indirectly burden a person's exercise of religion unless the application of the burden to the person is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is accomplished through the least restrictive means.
This amendment allows a person whose exercise of religion has been or is substantially likely to be burdened in violation of this legislation to assert the violation as a claim or defense in a court action.
This amendment's requirement that the government's infringement upon the free exercise of religion be justified by a compelling interest is similar to the requirement placed on the Federal Government through the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and that of 18 other states that have passed similar protections.
FISCAL NOTE REQUIRED