Hawaii lawmakers last January introduced legislation to prohibit the state from burdening any person’s right to exercise religion unless it was needed to further a compelling governmental interest. The bill was carried over to the 2016 regular session.
Lawmakers are considering legislation that would require school boards to designate separate boys and girls’ bathrooms, changing rooms and other facilities being used during school-sponsored activities. The legislature defines sex as a student’s gender at birth and not their gender identity.
Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill last year barring government entities from substantially burdening the religious exercise of individuals, organizations and businesses, unless by the least restrictive means to further a compelling government interest. After businesses raised concerns, Pence signed an amended version stating that the law cannot be used to deny services, public accommodations, employment or housing based on race, religion, age, sexual orientation or gender identity.
A proposed bill to prohibit the government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion similar to legislation being considered in many other states was introduced in the Iowa House of Representatives in January. The proposal has been referred to the judiciary committee.
A new law prevents colleges and universities from denying religious student associations the same funding or benefits available to other groups because of requirements that its members follow the association’s religious beliefs, standards or conduct. The law will take effect July. Bills were also introduced to order schools to designate restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities for use by males or females according to students’ gender at birth.
The Republican-led Senate passed a measure that would expand the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act by barring penalties against those who decline to provide “customized, artistic, expressive, creative, ministerial or spiritual goods or services” to people that would infringe on their “right of conscience” or religious freedoms. The bill is pending in the Democratic-led House.