Senate Rejects Controversial Religious Freedom Bill

Mar 2, 2016

In a surprising vote on the floor Wednesday evening, House Bill 4012 died on a 7 to 27 vote.

 

The bill, known as the Religious Freedom Protection Act, would have established a process for courts to follow when people or businesses claimed that government action was infringing upon their religious beliefs.

Upon its introduction in the House in January, the bill was known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

 

No member of the body stood to speak to the bill before Wednesday's vote. After explaining the bill, Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Trump only told members to "follow their hearts and consciences."

The bill had seen several changes since it was approved in the House of Delegates last month. The largest of those were the added provisions that ensure the bill will not be used for discrimination.

 

An amendment was also added to the bill that protects the state from lawsuits stemming from child vaccination laws.

 

Several Senators said they had received backlash for speaking against the House version of the bill while it was on Second Reading Tuesday.

 

Senate President Bill Cole voted against the bill.