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Relating to the protection of religious organizations.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 525 would designate religious organizations as essential businesses and their activities as essential activities at all times, including during declared disasters. A governmental entity would not be able to prohibit a religious organization from engaging in religious activities or continuing to operate at any time. Any individual or the Attorney General would be able to obtain injunctive relief if a governmental entity violates the new provisions. Private persons who prevail in such actions would be entitled to attorney’s fees and court costs.
Texas Action supports HB 525 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 525 would prevent the state and local governments from violating this fundamental right in a time in which they wield additional powers to respond to an emergency.