Eye On Boise

Religious freedom expansion bill heads to House's amending order

More than 500 people filled hallways, three overflow rooms and a Capitol hearing room Wednesday to speak out against a religious-freedom bill they said would sanction discrimination. (Betsy Russell)
More than 500 people filled hallways, three overflow rooms and a Capitol hearing room Wednesday to speak out against a religious-freedom bill they said would sanction discrimination. (Betsy Russell)

More than 500 people filled Idaho's state Capitol Wednesday to speak out against legislation designed to protect freedom of religion - by allowing Idahoans to refuse service to those they object to on religious grounds; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com. In hours of passionate testimony overwhelmingly against the bill, people said it would undo the protections in local anti-discrimination ordinances in seven Idaho cities that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

After more than three and a half hours of testimony overwhelmingly against the bill, the measure’s sponsor, Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, said he never meant for the measure, HB 427, to be a “sword for discrimination.” He proposed amending it, so religion could be used only as a defense in such cases, not as a reason to sue. Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, said, “I have to agree as a co-sponsor, that this was not … my intent.” He moved to send the bill out for amendments “to have that fix, and maybe other fixes that we will have.”

The House State Affairs Committee voted 11-5 to send the bill to the full House, but not for passage – it was sent to the House’s amending order, where any member of the House may offer amendments.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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