With barely two weeks remaining in the current legislative session and a raft of issues on the docket, Michigan House leaders have moved the protection of religious liberties to center stage. House Speaker Jase Bolger introduced House Bill 5958 - the Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act (MRFRA) - immediately after the November election. Typically, the Speaker does not introduce bills as leader of the chamber. HB 5958 is the only bill Speaker Bolger has personally sponsored in this two-year session. Today the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the bill and reported it to the House floor by a vote of 7-4.
This proposed state law directly parallels the federal RFRA which
was at the center of the Hobby Lobby religious liberty case
against the HHS Mandate under the federal health care law. The
federal RFRA was enacted in 1993, signed by President Bill
Clinton, to mitigate a U.S. Supreme Court ruling which lowered the
protection of religious beliefs from government actions. Though Congress attempted to apply RFRA to the
states, the Supreme Court later ruled states must pass their
own RFRA to maintain the highest level of legal protection at the
state and local levels.
Right to Life of Michigan offered its support to HB 5958 today as
we are currently engaged in our own lawsuit against the HHS
Mandate. Recent government actions at both
the federal and local levels have demonstrated fundamental
religious liberties are vulnerable.
While things are always very unpredictable in a "lame duck"
session, including what response the Michigan Senate will have to
HB 5958, a matter of this importance will keep everyone's
attention in Lansing.
RLM will be closely monitoring developments on this legislation
and will be advocating for its passage.