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Texas could be next state engulfed in religious freedom debate

Texas could be next state engulfed in religious freedom debate


AUSTIN, Texas — Could the uproar over religious freedom laws that engulfed Indiana and Arkansas be coming to Texas? The next couple weeks in the Legislature should provide the answer.

Lawmakers in Indiana scrambled to clarify that state’s law amid complaints it could be used to promote discrimination against gay people. The Arkansas Legislature approved a similar measure, but backlash from top employers prompted Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson to hold off signing it.

In Texas, a proposed state constitutional amendment by tea party-backed state Sen. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels would have essentially the same effect.

But Campbell and many Republicans in the Legislature argue it’s necessary to keep government from infringing on religion.

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Campbell’s bill is awaiting a hearing before the Senate State Affairs Committee. If that doesn’t happen soon, it will be difficult for the proposal to clear committee and the full Senate in time to pass the Legislature before session ends June 1.

A similar measure in the House by Fort Worth Rep. Matt Krause faces even longer odds. That’s because its original sponsor, Dallas Republican Rep. Jason Villalba, pulled his bill amid objections from Texas’ business lobby.

Krause, another tea party favorite, resurrected Villalba’s proposal. But it has yet to have a hearing before the House State Affairs Committee and will run out of time if there’s not movement soon.

Louisiana could soon be embroiled in the debate as well.

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