The 2020 legislative session is off to a roaring start. The first substantial task for the legislature involves reauthorizing every administrative rule that expired at the end of the last legislative session when the legislature failed to agree on a reauthorization process for all existing rules.
This process is now ending. This week, legislators will begin shifting their attention from reviewing administrative rules to introducing and debating legislation. Here are three legislative bills we have our eyes on:
- Simon’s Law
One of the top priorities of Family Policy Alliance of Idaho® this year is to secure passage of Simon’s Law. Named after Simon Crosier, a baby boy born in 2010 with Trisomy 18, this legislation would ensure the right of parents to be involved in the medical decision-making process for their children.
Click here to learn more about Simon and efforts in Idaho and the U.S. Congress to protect every parent’s ultimate decision-making authority over their child’s medical care.
- Fairness in Sports Act
Sponsored by Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls), the Fairness in Sports Act would save girls sports. Rep. Ehardt knows sports—she spent 15 years as a NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach.
Currently, Idaho boys can play in girls’ sports after undergoing hormone treatment for one year. But the size, strength, bone structure, lung volume, and heart supply of most males far outpace the most elite female athletes, even after receiving hormone therapy. For this reason, the Fairness in Sports Act would bar biological boys from competing in girls high school sports.
Allowing boys to participate in girls’ sports deprives our girls of opportunities for victories, scholarships, and slots on teams. Biological boys are already beginning to win girls athletic championships in many states—making it even more important that girls sports are protected here in Idaho.
- Add the Words
Senator Maryanne Jordan (D-Boise) has yet again introduced “Add the Words.” This legislation would obliterate religious freedom by adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes under the Idaho Human Rights Act.
This is the sixth year in a row that this legislation has been introduced in the legislature. Even though every Democratic representative and senator is signing on as a cosponsor, we don’t anticipate this effort to go anywhere this year.
We are also keeping an eye on any “compromises” that may attempt to split the middle when it comes to constitutionally protected religious liberty and so-called LGBT “rights.”
We will keep you updated on these and other bills as the current legislative session shifts into high gear! In the meantime, please join us in prayer for our legislators.
Standing for you and your family,
Director of Advocacy
I recently attended the Interfaith & LGBT Summit on Religious Liberty and Public Accommodations. Although the event was hosted by private law and advocacy groups including the Idaho State Bar, it was held at the state capitol building.
During one of the event sessions, a liberal panelist kept referencing our supposed “freedom of worship.” She argued that while every person has the right to believe whatever they want and teach those doctrines in church, they do not have the right to act on those beliefs in the public square.
The term “freedom of worship” was popularized by the Obama administration. Although “freedom of worship” and “religious freedom” sound similar, they are not interchangeable. And much too often, those trumpeting the former are trying to undermine the latter.
Genuine religious freedom includes the right to practice your faith without undue government interference. In other words, you have the right to live and work according to your sincerely held religious beliefs.
This right is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”) and in Article 1, Section 4 of the Idaho State Constitution (“The exercise and enjoyment of religious faith and worship shall forever be guaranteed”).
Freedom of worship, on the other hand, is a far more limited protection. It merely protects an individual’s right to worship within the four walls of the church as he or she sees fit. This truncated view permits you to believe what you want, so long as it doesn’t motivate your actions or rollover into your everyday life from Monday to Saturday.
Thankfully, recent survey data provide promising evidence that the American people still remain squarely on the side of religious liberty. The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty recently published their findings that 73 percent of Americans support the right of businesspeople to operate their businesses according to their religious beliefs. Additionally, 76 percent believe people or groups should not be forced to participate in actions or work that violates their religious beliefs and conscience.
Sadly, the opponents of religious freedom aren’t dissuaded by the broad support for this inalienable right among the American people. Nearly all the proposals offered at the Interfaith & LGBT Summit on Religious Liberty and Public Accommodations infringe religious freedom. Whether it’s “Add the Words” in Idaho or “Fairness for All” in the U.S. Congress, these pieces of legislation (which Family Policy Alliance of Idaho® opposes) endanger our constitutionally protected right to live, work, and raise our families according to the dictates of our faith.
That’s why the work done by Family Policy Alliance of Idaho is so important. We are working to build a state and a nation where religious freedom thrives. Will you join us?
Standing for religious freedom,
Director of Advocacy