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Relating to the prohibited suspension of laws protecting religious freedom and prohibited closure of places of worship.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 1239 would prohibit the suspension of state laws protecting religious freedom, including during a declared state of disaster. Government agencies and public officials would be prohibited from issuing an order that closes places of worship. Individuals whose free exercise has been substantially burdened in violation of this new prohibition would be permitted to raise it as a defense to an order.
Texas Action supports HB 1239 because it would protect individual liberty and limit government abuse. The free exercise of religion is a fundamental right that should not be restricted, even in states of disaster or emergency. HB 1239 further clarifies and would prevent the state or local governments from violating this fundamental right, including in a time in which they wield additional powers to respond to a disaster.