2000 Legislation
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SENATE BILL NO. 1394 – Free exercise of religion protected


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Daily Data Tracking History

S1394................................................by JUDICIARY AND RULES
RELIGION - Adds to existing law to enact the "Free Exercise of Religion
Act" which is intended to assure that burdensome state and local laws will
not preclude the free exercise of religion.
02/10    Senate intro - 1st rdg - to printing
02/11    Rpt prt - to Jud
02/28    Rpt out - rec d/p - to 2nd rdg
02/29    2nd rdg - to 3rd rdg
03/06    3rd rdg - PASSED - 31-4-0
      AYES--Andreason, Boatright, Bunderson, Burtenshaw, Cameron, Crow,
      Danielson, Darrington, Davis, Deide, Frasure, Geddes, Hawkins,
      Ingram, Ipsen, Keough, King-Barrutia, Lee, McLaughlin, Noh, Parry,
      Richardson, Riggs, Risch, Sandy, Sorensen, Stegner, Thorne, Walton,
      Wheeler, Williams
      NAYS--Dunklin, Schroeder, Stennett, Whitworth
      Absent and excused--None
    Floor Sponsor - Ipsen
    Title apvd - to House
03/07    House intro - 1st rdg - to Jud
03/16    Rpt out - rec d/p - to 2nd rdg
03/17    2nd rdg - to 3rd rdg
03/21    3rd rdg - PASSED - 53-17-0
      AYES -- Alltus, Barraclough, Barrett, Bell, Black, Bruneel,
      Callister, Campbell, Chase, Cheirrett, Clark, Crow, Cuddy, Deal,
      Denney, Ellsworth, Field(13), Field(20), Geddes, Gould, Hadley,
      Hammond, Hansen(23), Hornbeck, Kellogg, Kempton, Kendell, Kunz, Lake,
      Linford, Loertscher, Mader, Marley, McKague, Mortensen, Moss, Moyle,
      Pearce, Pischner, Pomeroy, Ridinger, Sali, Schaefer, Smylie,
      Stevenson, Stoicheff, Stone, Taylor, Tilman, Wheeler, Wood,
      Zimmermann, Mr Speaker
      NAYS -- Bieter, Boe, Gagner, Hansen(29), Henbest, Jaquet, Jones,
      Judd, Meyer, Montgomery, Reynolds, Ringo, Robison, Sellman, Shepherd,
      Smith, Trail
      Absent and excused -- None
    Floor Sponsors - Mader, Stevenson
    Title apvd - to Senate
03/22    To enrol
03/23    Rpt enrol - Pres signed
03/24    Sp signed
03/27    To Governor
03/31    Governor signed
         Session Law Chapter 133
         Effective: 03/31/00
         (Ch. 134 changes effective date to 2/1/01)

Bill Text

  ||||              LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF IDAHO             ||||
 Fifty-fifth Legislature                  Second Regular Session - 2000
                                       IN THE SENATE
                                    SENATE BILL NO. 1394
                              BY JUDICIARY AND RULES COMMITTEE
  1                                        AN ACT
  7    Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:
  8        SECTION 1.  LEGISLATIVE INTENT. The Legislature finds that:
  9        (1)  The Constitution of the State of Idaho recognizes the  free  exercise
 10    of religion.
 11        (2)  Laws  that  are  facially  neutral  toward  religion, as well as laws
 12    intended to interfere with religious exercise, may burden religious exercise.
 13        (3)  Governments should not substantially burden religious exercise  with-
 14    out compelling justification.
 15        (4)  This  state has independent authority to protect the free exercise of
 16    religion by principles that are  separate  from,  complementary  to  and  more
 17    expansive than the first amendment of the United States Constitution.
 18        (5)  Under  its police power, the Legislature may establish statutory pro-
 19    tections that codify and supplement rights guaranteed by the  Constitution  of
 20    the State of Idaho.
 21        (6)  The  compelling  interest  test, as set forth in the federal cases of
 22    Wisconsin v. Yoder, (1972) and Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398, (1963)  is  a
 23    workable  test  for  striking  sensible balances between religious liberty and
 24    competing government interests.
 25        SECTION 2.  That Title 73, Idaho Code, be, and the same is hereby  amended
 26    by  the addition thereto of a NEW CHAPTER, to be known and designated as Chap-
 27    ter 4, Title 73, Idaho Code, and to read as follows:
 28                                      CHAPTER 4
 29                         FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION PROTECTED
 30        73-401.  DEFINITIONS. As used in this chapter unless the context otherwise
 31    requires:
 32        (1)  "Demonstrates" means meets the burdens of going  forward  with   evi-
 33    dence, and persuasion under the standard of clear and convincing evidence.
 34        (2)  "Exercise  of religion" means the ability to act or refusal to act in
 35    a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief,  whether  or  not  the
 36    exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.
 37        (3)  "Government" includes this state and any agency or political subdivi-
 38    sion of this state.
 39        (4)  "Political  subdivision"  includes any county, city, school district,
 40    taxing district, municipal corporation, or agency of a  county,  city,  school
 41    district, or municipal corporation.
  1        (5)  "Substantially  burden"  means  to  inhibit  or  curtail  religiously
  2    motivated practices.
  3        73-402.  FREE  EXERCISE OF RELIGION PROTECTED. (1)  Free exercise of reli-
  4    gion is a fundamental right that applies in this state, even if laws, rules or
  5    other government actions are facially neutral.
  6        (2)  Except as provided in subsection  (3)  of  this  section,  government
  7    shall    not  substantially burden a person's exercise of religion even if the
  8    burden results from a rule of general applicability.
  9        (3)  Government may substantially burden a person's exercise  of  religion
 10    only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is both:
 11        (a)  Essential to further a compelling governmental interest;
 12        (b)  The  least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmen-
 13        tal interest.
 14        (4)  A person whose religious exercise is burdened in  violation  of  this
 15    section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceed-
 16    ing  and  obtain appropriate relief against a government. A party who prevails
 17    in any action to enforce this  chapter  against  a  government  shall  recover
 18    attorney's fees and costs.
 19        (5)  In  this  section, the term "substantially burden" is intended solely
 20    to ensure that this chapter is not  triggered  by  trivial,  technical  or  de
 21    minimis infractions.
 22        73-403.  APPLICABILITY.  (1)  This  chapter  applies to all state laws and
 23    local ordinances and the implementation of those laws and ordinances,  whether
 24    statutory or otherwise, and whether enacted or adopted before, on or after the
 25    effective date of this chapter.
 26        (2)  State laws that are enacted or adopted on or after the effective date
 27    of this chapter are subject to this chapter unless the law explicitly excludes
 28    application by reference to this chapter.
 29        (3)  This  chapter  shall  not be construed to authorize any government to
 30    burden any religious belief.
 31        73-404.  SEVERABILITY. If any provision of this act or its application  to
 32    any  person  or  circumstance  is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect
 33    other provisions or applications of this act that can be given effect  without
 34    the  invalid  provision  or application and to this end the provisions of this
 35    act are severable.
 36        SECTION 3.  An emergency existing  therefor,  which  emergency  is  hereby
 37    declared to exist, this act shall be in full force and effect on and after its
 38    passage and approval.

Statement of Purpose / Fiscal Impact

                STATEMENT OF PURPOSE 
                     RS 09829C1 
          The purpose of this legislation is to reestablish a test which courts must use to determine
     whether a person's religious belief should be accommodated when a government action or
     regulation restricts his or her religious practice. The test, known as the "compelling interest test,"
     requires the government to prove with evidence that its regulation is (1) essential to achieve a
     compelling governmental interest and (2) it is the least restrictive means of achieving the
     government's compelling interest. 
          Prior to 1990 the U.S. Supreme Court used the above test--the "compelling interest
     test"--when deciding religious claims. However, in a 1990 decision (Employment Div. of Oregon
     v. Smith) the Court tipped the scales of justice in favor of government regulation by throwing out
     the compelling interest test, which had shielded our religious freedom from onerous government
     for more than 30 years. The Smith decision reduced the standard of review in religious freedom
     cases to a "reasonableness standard." While all other fundamental rights (freedom of speech,
     press, assembly, etc.) remain protected by the stringent "compelling interest test," the Court
     singled out religious freedom by reducing its protection to the weak "reasonableness test." 
          A widely recognized principle of law is that states are free to protect an individual's right
     with a much higher standard than the U.S. Constitution itself affords. Thus, in light of this
     principle in conjunction with the Boerne decision, states are free to enact their own RFRA's
     thereby choosing to apply the higher "compelling interest test" standard in their own religious
     freedoms cases. . 
                    FISCAL IMPACT 
     There is no fiscal impact. 
     Name: Senator Grant lpsen
     Phone: (208) 332-1326 
     Name: Representative Bert Stevenson
     Phone: (208) 332-1000 
     Name: Senator Gordon Crow
     Phone: (208) 332-1330 
     Name: Representative Dan Mader
     Phone: (208) 332-1000 
                                                  STATEMENT OF PURPOSE/FISCAL NOTE                                 S 1394