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KY Legislature Overrides Governor's Veto of Religious Freedom Bill E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Thursday, 28 March 2013

Following Governor Steve Beshear's veto of Kentucky's version of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Kentucky legislature has voted to override the move. The federal government and many states have enacted versions of the bill, which - in a nutshell - makes it tougher for the state to substantially infringe on religious exercise, by requiring a "compelling government interest."

Only time will tell whether the slight differences between the federal RFRA and Kentucky's legislation are significant enough to cause the problems the Governor warned about in his veto statement (at least one study indicates RFRA has not had a big impact). From my perspective, the legislature fixed the biggest problem with their bill when they amended HB 279 to require the burden on religious exercise to be "substantial" before this higher threshold kicks in. 

Unfortunately, the debate over this bill suggests many do not understand the rationale for RFRA, including some of the proponents of the bill.

[Some] said that their constituents had overwhelmingly urged them to override the veto. Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, said that religious freedom has been under attack. Prayer and Bibles have been taken out of schools, Lee said.

"You don't think your religious freedom is under attack?" Lee said.

 Of all the things this bill might do, reinstituting school-sponsored prayer is not one of them.

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