January 16, 2014, CWA of Maine will lobby for one of the most important pieces of legislation in years, L.D. 1428, “An Act to Protect Religious Freedom.” Below is a letter from Sen. Burns which explains actions you can take and the changes he is making in the Religious Freedom Bill.
I introduced a bill in the first session (last winter) of the 126th Legislature titled “An Act to Protect Religious Freedom”. This bill was carried over to the second session (this winter) at my request, due to the extreme push back from special interest groups. I wanted to improve the bill and address any legitimate concerns. I believe that has been done.
I have a proposed “Committee Amendment” that I will introduce at the public hearing on Jan. 16 before the Judiciary Committee. I believe it is very timely with what we are seeing across the country and here in Maine. It applies to all faiths and religions, or those with neither. The history of the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” is consistent with federal law and at least 18 states which have adopted similar language into statute. I believe that the U.S. Constitution already guarantees these protections, however, it is necessary to also have very clear statutory language to safeguard these protections and give clear guidelines for all to follow when it comes to “Religious Freedoms”.
Retired Superior Court Judge Jessie Gunther said it well in an article in the Bangor Daily News in October, 2012 regarding the U.S. Health and Human Services mandate for religious employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives: “This..is an extraordinary assault on religious liberty”. “Everyone is at risk when constitutional protections are diminished.”
Please reach out to clergy, friends, family and legislators to actively support this amendment through word of mouth, email, newspaper op ed articles and testimony. The timing is right now! Hopefully many of you will put this date on your schedule and come to testify before the Committee on January 16.Soon after the public hearing, this bill will be debated in the House and Senate. Please let your Representative and Senator know your position on this important bill!
Below is a link to an article I did in the Bangor Daily News on November 13th.
Thank you for your support,
Senator for District #29
Washington County and parts of Hancock and Penobscot Counties