Spencer Willems, House ‘religious freedom’ law passes on voice vote, North Arkansas Democrat Gazette

LITTLE ROCK — A bill supporters say will strengthen First Amendment Freedom of Religion rights is on the way to the state House floor after the House Judiciary Committee backed it Tuesday.

Known as the “Conscience Protection Act,” House Bill 1228, sponsored by Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, seeks to protect Arkansans from laws, ordinances, or other government rules and policies that would “burden” an individual’s right to exercise religion. Measures burdening religious beliefs would only be allowed if the government possesses a “compelling” interest in the regulation and if the regulation is the the least restrictive option.

The bill passed through by voice vote despite opposition from attorneys who argued the statute was unnecessary and would lead to a range of unforeseen legal problems. In addition, two religious leaders spoke in opposition, arguing the legislation would enable Arkansans to discriminate against gays and others.

On Tuesday, Ballinger said 19 other states and the federal government have passed similar legislation.

View entire article: http://www.nwaonline.com/news/2015/feb/11/house-religious-freedom-law-passes-on-v/