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Relating to the conscience rights of certain religious organizations and individuals.
This bill would protect child welfare services providers from adverse action on the basis that the provider has declined to provide or facilitate services that conflict with the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs, provides or intends to provide children with a religious education, has declined or will decline to provide, facilitate, or refer a person for abortions or contraceptives, or refuses to enter into a contract that would force a provider to surrender rights created by the chapter. The bill would allow a provider to assert a violation of the chapter as a claim in judicial or administrative proceeding to obtain relief such as declaratory relief, injunctive relief, or compensatory damages for losses, as well as reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs. The bill would impose a two-year limitations period for an action to be brought to assert a claim for damages.
This bill was amended on the House floor to add the provision that a child welfare service provider that refuses to provide a service as authorized by the section must provide the person seeking the service with written information directing the person to the department's website that includes a list of other providers or other information sources that identify licensed child welfare service providers, refer the person to another child services provider, or refer the applicant to the department of another SSCC to locate a child service provider who provides the service being denied.