Category archives: State of the States

H.B. 1228: Bringing Freedom to Arkansas

by Travis Weber, J.D., LL.M.

February 27, 2015

Down in Arkansas, opponents of individual rights and personal freedom are doing what they can to defeat H.B. 1228, the state Conscience Protection Act, a freedom-loving bill which is designed to ensure that individuals’ consciences and beliefs cannot be easily trampled by intrusive government regulation.

Human Rights Campaign proudly points to a statement by Apple in which the company opines on a religious rights bill it apparently does not understand—for H.B. 1228 does not diminish “equal treatment under the law” for anyone, certainly not based on their sexual orientation. The only thing it does is keep a powerful government in check. The idea that the company is demeaning the religious beliefs of the citizens of the same state whose business opportunities it is taking advantage of is apparently lost on Apple.

Here and elsewhere, opponents know they can’t defeat the bill by simply showing their hatred for anything religious. So here and elsewhere, some put forward religious figures as their “spokespeople” against the bill, trying to use religion for their ends. Meanwhile, these poor individuals don’t realize they are opposing a bill which would support their own individual rights and liberty when the government comes calling for them in the future.

Others don’t even pretend to focus on the actual issue, claiming “the point of the bill is to prevent equal treatment of gay people, even if it has no effect on anyone’s beliefs,” and implying H.B. 1228 would allow a gay person to be “denied a hamburger, an apartment or a job because of his or her sexuality.” Anyone who actually takes the time to understand how the bill works would know it does no such thing. It is precisely the “effect” on “beliefs” that has so many seeing the urgent need for such bills as forced conscience violations under penalty of law increasingly emerge elsewhere.

Enough about the misinformation on H.B. 1228. Let’s review the facts, for truth’s sake:

What does the bill actually do?

H.B. 1228 protects sincere conscientious objectors of all religions from over-intrusive government regulation burdening their religious practice, while winnowing out those using religion as a pretext to escape application of general laws. Neither the Conscience Protection Act nor similar laws protecting religious exercise would allow businesses to “turn away” customers or engage in “discrimination” as they see fit.

How does the bill actually work?

H.B. 1228 allows a person to appeal to their religious beliefs as a basis for their claim or defense in a judicial proceeding.

Under the bill, an individual first has to prove they have:

(1) A religious belief, and

(2) Which is also sincere, and

(3) Which has been substantially burdened by the government action in question. Only then can their claim move forward.

Only if the person making the religious claim satisfies those three elements does the claim move to the second stage. At this stage, the government must show that:

(1) It has a compelling interest in burdening the religious practice, and

(2) It has only burdened the practice in the least restrictive way possible.

If the government can make both of these showings, its law or regulation is allowed to infringe on the religious practice—even under H.B. 1228. However, if the government fails to make both of these showings, the religious claim will prevail, and at that point the person is entitled to legal protection for their religious beliefs and practices. Even then, the person must look to the court’s application of similar laws; in no cases would H.B. 1228 simply allow people to appeal to religion to act as they wish apart from judicial involvement. It is important to remember that just because someone brings a religious rights claim does not mean that the claim will win in every case.

This is a legal standard known as “strict scrutiny.” It has been used in constitutional law for decades, and has been applied to religious claims for over 20 years under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”)—all without any “discrimination” or pattern of abuses such as those claimed by the opponents of H.B. 1228.

This RFRA framework does not permit anyone to automatically do anything in the name of religion; they have to jump through all the hoops discussed above. RFRAs and laws like H.B. 1228 merely protect those of all faiths whose sincere beliefs are in danger of being unnecessarily burdened by the government, while winnowing out those using religion as a pretext to escape application of general laws. For all these same reasons, claims that the Michigan RFRA will “let EMTs refuse to serve gay people” and that the Arizona and Mississippi RFRAs from previous years are “right-to-discriminate” bills are completely misleading. When people are provided with a proper understanding of strict scrutiny’s application to religious claims, they can see that opponents of these bills are engaging in baseless fabrication.

Who needs the bill’s protections?

Everyone with religious beliefs and a conscience—regardless of their religion, political views, the content of their beliefs, or how they apply those beliefs.

Religious freedom laws like H.B. 1228 never used to be (and still should not be) a partisan issue, as they protect those of all faiths and political persuasions. Indeed, when the federal RFRA was passed in 1993, a coalition of groups from across the religious, political, and legal spectrum—from the Southern Baptists to the ACLU—came together to support restoring strong protections for free exercise claims. A review of RFRA and free exercise case law going back decades clearly shows its benefit to everyone from Muslims to Jews, Christians to Santeria adherents, and Native Americans to more obscure sects, as they seek to protect their beliefs and consciences in the face of ever more intrusive government. Moreover, these laws are not political—they cut across racial and social lines, and apply in a variety of factual scenarios, such as property disputes, social welfare (just this past year, the Texas RFRA served as protection for those seeking to care for the homeless), conscience objections to abortion, and restrictions on using controlled substances in religious ceremonies. H.B. 1228 and RFRAs like it are not fact-specific. They are not race-specific. They are not religion-specific. And they are not political party-specific.

Americans of all political persuasions and religions who care about individual freedom from government coercion should get behind H.B. 1228. The bill’s text and our established practices for analyzing religious claims show that H.B. 1228 will merely support conscience rights for all in the face of ever larger and more intrusive government—it does nothing more, and nothing less. That’s something all Americans can support.

Tony Perkins on CSPAN

by FRC Media Office

June 12, 2014

FRC President Tony Perkins on CSPAN discussing the recent election upset in the Virginia Republican Primary, and the release of Bowe Bergdahl.

State of Public Opinion on Pro-Life Laws

by Family Research Council

July 25, 2011

One of highlights of the various 2011 state legislative sessions is the successful passage of many solid pro-life bills. According to a recent report by Guttmacher, 80 bills restricting abortion were passed in 19 states, more than tripling the 23 passed last year. This impressive number not only sets a record for the most life-affirming bills passed in one year, but it also more than doubles the previous record of 34 bills in 2005.

Some abortion advocates suggest that this is an example of legislators with extreme right-wing social ideologies pushing their agenda on the people in their state who likely do not agree with them on these issues. They even go so far as to assert that there has been an all out attack on women by these state legislators.

Now, thanks to Gallup poll data released today, we can check those assertions. Are these pro-life legislators out of touch or do they reflect the feelings of the majority of Americans? Are women feeling attacked and fighting back, or do they support and advocate bills that require their doctor to fully inform them of potential abortion risks, show them an ultrasound, and get parental consent for minors to receive an abortion?

Gallup says:

Of seven abortion restrictions tested in a July 15-17Galluppoll, informing women of certain risks of an abortion in advance of performing it is the most widely favored, at 87%. Seven in 10 Americans favor requiring parental consent for minors and establishing a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions. Nearly two-thirds favor making the specific procedure known as “partial birth abortion” illegal


Data from this poll also affirms a striking consistency in polling data that abortion is not a man verses woman issue, with men pushing pro-life views on women who just want to make choices with their pregnancies. To the contrary, four out of seven pro-life measures addressed in this poll scored a higher percentage of support among women than men!


Polling Chart

Read the Poll results in their entirety for yourself here.

2011 State Efforts to Defund Planned Parenthood

by Family Research Council

June 23, 2011

Yesterday New Hampshire joined the growing number of states seeking to defund abortion giant Planned Parenthood. The trend seemed to start last year when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie passed a budget which eliminated about 7.5 million dollars worth of family planning funding.

As reported by Kevin Smith, the Executive Director of Cornerstone, the Granite states leading family policy organization:

This has truly been a banner day for the babies here in the Granite State… in a completely unexpected and under the radar move today, the NH Executive Council (which is like our lieutenant Governor, but it’s made up of 5 elected officials from across the state), which along with the Governor has to approve all state contracts above $2499 (yes, you read the correct) voted to REJECT the state contract for Planned Parenthood worth $1.8 million over the next two years!! This is simply amazing news! The vote was 3-2 and it is the first time that a state contract with PP has ever been rejected!”

The story can be found here.

Here is a list (with the legislation in question as well as the state organizations that led the way) of some of the successful efforts this year, as well as three valiant efforts that did not pass.

Successful Efforts (IN, KS, NH, NC, TX, TNWI):


Family policy organization: Indiana Family Institute

Leading the cause to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, Indiana passed a monumental piece of legislation, HB1210, earlier this year. It has subsequently been challenged in court and U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt is expected to make a ruling by July 1st whether to grant injunction while the court case continues.

The actual text in question can be read below:

An agency of the state may not:

(1) enter into a contract with; or

(2) make a grant to; any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed that involves the expenditure of state funds or federal funds administered by the state.

(c) Any appropriation by the state:

(1) in a budget bill;

(2) under IC 5-19-1-3.5; or

(3) in any other law of the state;

to pay for a contract with or grant made to any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed is canceled, and the money appropriated is not available for payment of any contract with or grant made to the entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed.

(d) For any contract with or grant made to an entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed covered under subsection (b), the budget agency shall make a determination that funds are not available, and the contract or grant shall be terminated under section 5 of this chapter.”

Full text of the bill can be found here.


Family policy organization: Kansas Family Policy Council

In contrast to the legislative method of Indiana, Kansas effectively defunded Planned Parenthood through their state budget. This was accomplished by prioritizing the means of distributing family planning funds: first to public entities and secondly to private entities which provided comprehensive health care in addition to family planning services (something which Planned Parenthood is not equipped to do). The new budget strips about $334,000 in federal Title X funding for the organization, according to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.

Relevant text can be read below:

Senate substitute for HB2014 Sec. 57:

(a) During the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, subject to any applicable requirements of federal statutes, rules, regulations or guidelines, any expenditures or grants of money by any state agency for family planning services financed in whole or in part from federal title X moneys shall be made subject to the following two priorities: First priority to public entities (state, county, local health departments and health clinics) and if any moneys remain then; second priority to non-public entities which are hospitals or federally qualified health centers that provide comprehensive primary and preventative care in addition to family planning services.

(page 85) (l)

During the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, subject to any applicable requirements of federal statutes, rules, regulations or guidelines, any expenditures or grants of money by the department of health and environment—division of health for family planning services financed in whole or in part from federal title X moneys shall be made subject to the following

two priorities: First priority to public entities (state, county, local health departments and health clinics) and, if any moneys remain, then, Second priority to non-public entities which are hospitals or federally qualified health centers that provide comprehensive primary and preventative care in addition to family planning services: Provided, That, as used in this sub-

section “hospitals” shall have the same meaning as defined in K.S.A. 65-425, and amendments thereto, and “federally qualified health center” shall have the same meaning as defined in K.S.A. 65-1669, and amendments thereto.


Family policy organization: Cornerstone Action

The Executive Council, a body of five elected councilors, is responsible for approving the expenditure of state and federal funds within New Hampshire. They work with ther Commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services and the Attorney General to manage the business of the state. On Wednesday, June 22nd, the Council voted 3 -2 against funding a contract in the amount of 1.8 million dollars with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

According to Union, Councilor Dan St. Hilaire said the Planned Parenthood contract “differed (from other health provider contracts) in that the organization directly provides abortions, it’s CEO earns in excess of $250,000 a year, and most of its services and administration are located out of state in Williston, Vt.”

For more information about the Executive Council go here


Family policy organization: North Carolina Family Policy Council

Similar to Kansas, the North Carolina legislature successfully voted to defund Planned Parenthood through their budget, overriding the governors veto. According to a Reuters article, Planned Parenthood said it received just over $434,000 a year through state grants and programs, about 4 percent of the group’s budget for operating nine health centers in North Carolina. The funding for Planned Parenthoods participation in public health programs will end on July 1.

Find out more information here.

The actual bill text states:


SECTION 10.19. For fiscal years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, the Department of Health and Human Services may not provide State funds or other funds administered by the Department for contracts or grants to Planned Parenthood, Inc., and affiliated organizations.


Family policy organization: Family Action Council of Tennessee

The path to defund Planned Parenthood in TN was long and not without mishaps. Initially legislators sought to defund through an amendment to the budget (Section 78) which read that funds allocated for womens health services shall be used fully by government-run health agencies and none shall be paid to third-party providers or private organizations or entities. However, at the last moment a mystery amendment was snuck in to the budget which stated: Section 78 of this act shall not be construed to supersede applicable provisions of federal and state law. Due to the complicated nature of the various provisions of law referenced, there was legal doubt over the validity of the defunding amendment.

In effort to try and reduce some of the dismay and confusion among lawmakers, the Lt Governors office released the following statement:

The confusion surrounding the language in the budget regarding Planned Parenthood has been unfortunate. The Office of Legal Services advised House and Senate leadership that it is unconstitutional to amend general law through the appropriations bill (Article II, Section 17), an interpretation which would have put the entire budget document in jeopardy. It was not our intent to allow funding for Planned Parenthood. Our majority in the General Assembly clearly meant to defund them. We are currently working with pro-life activists to resolve this issue with legislation and we will put it to rest immediately upon the legislatures return in January.

Many citizen urged Governor Haslam to use his executive power to fix the mistake in the recently passed budget. Finally, on June 11th the Lieutenant Governor, Ron Ramsey, announced that Governor Haslam had asked the State Health Department to pressure the states two largest counties, Davidson and Shelby Counties, to provide family planning services through their respective county health departments (as the other 93 counties in TN currently do) instead of contracting with Planned Parenthood and granting them state funds to provide family planning services on behalf of those two counties.

We are at long last moving towards the final stages of the Planned Parenthood shell game, said Lt. Gov. Ramsey. It has always been the ambition of Republicans in the legislature to defund this organization. I was proud to lead the charge to turn over family planning services to the county health departments effectively defunding the organization in 93 out of 95 counties. Id like to praise the Governor for working to completely turn off the spigot of taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood.



Family policy organization: Liberty Institute

Texas, similar to Kansas used a funding prioritization method in their recently passed 2012-2013 budget:

The Department of State Health Services shall allocate funds appropriated above in Strategy B.1.3, Family Planning Services using a methodology that prioritizes distribution and reallocation to first award public entities that provide family planning services, including state, county, local community health clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and clinics under the Baylor College of Medicine; secondly, non-public entities that provide comprehensive primary and preventative care as a part of their family planning services; and thirdly, non-public entities that provide family planning services but do not provide comprehensive primary and preventative care.

My San Antonio reports: “Now that the dust has settled on the recently passed 2012-13 budget, the state’s family planning money now hovers at $38 million $73 million less than the $111 million allocated in the current biennium.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

Another bill currently under consideration, SB 7, would further increase funding prioritization and prohibit public hospitals and facilities who receive public funds from performing abortions.


Family policy organization: Wisconsin Family Council

According to a Huffpost Politics article, Governor Scott Walker (R) is expected to sign a budget bill that eliminates state and federal funding from nine of the state’s Planned Parenthood health centers. It directs federal Title V family planning dollars to public health agencies and prohibits them from giving the funds to organizations or its affiliates that provide abortions or abortion referrals.

The article states the new budget would eliminate $1 million a year in funding for nine of Wisconsin’s 25 Planned Parenthood clinics.

Unsuccessful Efforts (MN, MT, NH ):


Family policy organization: Minnesota Family Institute

A bill (SF1224) was introduced that would have prohibited all state family planning funds from going to any organization that performs abortions or is associated with an organization that performs abortions. Unfortunately it did not pass the chamber of origin. The actual text states:

Family planning grant funds” means funds distributed through the maternal and child health block grant program under sections 145.881 to 145.883, the family planning special projects grant program under section 145.925, the program to eliminate health disparities under section 145.928, or any other state grant program whose funds are or may be used to fund family planning services.

Subd. 2. Uses of family planning grant funds. No family planning grant funds may be:

(1) expended to directly or indirectly subsidize abortion services or administrative expenses;

(2) paid or granted to an organization or an affiliate of an organization that provides abortion services, unless the affiliate is independent as provided in subdivision 4; or

(3) paid or granted to an organization that has adopted or maintains a policy in writing or through oral public statements that abortion is considered part of a continuum of family planning services, reproductive health services, or both.

Subd. 3. Organizations receiving family planning grant funds. An organization that receives family planning grant funds:

(1) may provide nondirective counseling relating to pregnancy but may not directly refer patients who seek abortion services to any organization that provides abortion services, including an independent affiliate of the organization receiving family planning grant funds. For purposes of this clause, an affiliate is independent if it satisfies the criteria in subdivision 4, paragraph (a);

(2) may not display or distribute marketing materials about abortion services to patients;

(3) may not engage in public advocacy promoting the legality or accessibility of abortion; and

(4) must be separately incorporated from any affiliated organization that provides abortion services.

Subd. 4. Independent affiliates that provide abortion services. (a) To ensure that the state does not lend its imprimatur to abortion services and to ensure that an organization that provides abortion services does not receive a direct or indirect economic or marketing benefit from family planning grant funds, an organization that receives family planning grant funds may not be affiliated with an organization that provides abortion services unless the organizations are independent from each other. To be independent, the organizations may not share any of the following:

(1) the same or a similar name;

(2) medical facilities or nonmedical facilities, including, but not limited to, business offices, treatment rooms, consultation rooms, examination rooms, and waiting rooms;

(3) expenses;

(4) employee wages or salaries; or

(5) equipment or supplies, including, but not limited to, computers, telephone systems, telecommunications equipment, and office supplies.

(b) An organization that receives family planning grant funds and that is affiliated with an organization that provides abortion services must maintain financial records that demonstrate strict compliance with this subdivision and that demonstrate that its independent affiliate that provides abortion services receives no direct or indirect economic or marketing benefit from the family planning grant funds.


Family policy organization: Minnesota Family Foundation

The Montana Legislature passed a two year budget rejecting federal family-planning funds in the amount of about $4.7 million.

According to an article in the Missoulian, House and Senate Republicans had also voted to remove $1 million in state funding for family planning clinics and rejected a Schweitzer administration proposal to spend another $1.2 million in state and federal funds for higher access to birth control.

The article states that Planned Parenthood, the most prominent abortion provider in Montana, receives about half of the $5.7 million in state and federal family-planning money, for use at its health clinics in Billings, Missoula, Helena and Great Falls.

Rejection of the federal money was a bold statement by lawmakers that they did not want to subsidize the abortion giant Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform abortions with taxpayer money. Unfortunately when the budget was presented to democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer, he used his amendment power to restore funding to Planned Parenthood and pressured the legislature to approve his amendments.


NOTE: NH was ultimately successful in defunding PP through the Executive Council. The following refers to their legislative attempt.

Family policy organization: Cornerstone Action

House Bill 228 specifically named Planned Parenthood and forbid the state from entering into any grants or contracts with that organization or other abortion providers. It also forbid the use of public funds for abortions or to pay any health insurance costs for policies that cover abortions.

This section does not prohibit the state from complying with the requirements of federal law relative to Title XIX and Title XXI of the Social Security Act.

The methodology of the bill states: The Department of Health and Human Services states this bill prevents the Department from contracting with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The Department stated the current contract with Planned Parenthood is in the amount $794,370 of which $428,960 is federal Title X funds and $365,410 is state general funds. Under the contract, Planned Parenthood provides family planning services, reproductive healthcare, HIV testing, STD testing and treatment, and health education. The Department states federal law prohibits these funds from being used to fund abortions. The Department assumes that, without this contract, the federal funds would be returned to the federal government and the general funds would be returned to the general fund.

State of Health Insurance Abortion Coverage Opt-Outs

by Family Research Council

June 9, 2011

Since the passage of Obamacare, officially titled the Paitient Protection and Affordable Care Act, many states have stepped in to fill the loophole allowing taxpayer funding of abortion. They have accomplished this by passing laws prohibiting abortion coverage in health plans created through the state exchange program set up by Obamacare. Arizona was the first state to do so in April of last year followed by four other states that session. Eight more states have passed laws prohibiting abortion coverage in the 2011 session and eight additional states currently have such legislation pending. The following chart and map gives details:

State Bill Number Date Enacted/Status
Passed in 2010: Total: 5 states
Arizona AZ SB 1305 4/24/10
Tennessee TN SB 2686 5/05/10 (Democrat Gov. did not veto or sign, but allowed bill to become law without his signature.)
Mississippi MS SB 3214 5/24/10
Louisiana LA HB 1247 7/02/10
Missouri MO SB 793 7/23/10 (same scenario as TN)
Passed in 2011: Total: 8 states
Utah UT HB 354 3/23/11
Idaho ID S 1115 4/01/11
Virginia VA HB 2434 4/06/11
Oklahoma OK SB 547 4/20/11
Indiana IN HB 1210 5/10/11
Nebraska NE LB 22 5/18/11
Kansas KS HB 2075 5/25/11
Florida FL H 97 6/02/11
Total passed: 13 states
Not Passed in 2011:
Minnesota MN HF 201 Vetoed (5/25/11)
Montana MT SB 176 Vetoed (4/4/11)
Arkansas AR SB 113 Passed Senate and House with amendments, then House did not transmit bill back to the Senate for them to concur before adjournment (2/2/11)
Georgia GA SB 177 Same path as AR (4/12/11)
Rhode Island RI S 87 Passed Senate (4/6/11)
Alabama AL SB 202 Passed Senate (5/24/11)
Total: 6 states
Pending in 2011 session:
Pennsylvania PN SB 3 Passed Senate
Ohio OH HB 79 Reported out of House committee
Wisconsin WI AB 154/SB 92 In committees of origin
Oregon OR HB 3600 In House committee
Iowa HF 576, HSB 57, SF 38 In committees of origin
Michigan HB 4143/HB 4147 In House committee
South Carolina SC H 3406/S102 In committees of origin
New Jersey NJ A 3085 In Assembly committee
Total: 8 states

State of Health Insurance Abortion Coverage in the States

by Family Research Council

April 27, 2011

An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose using taxpayer money to fund abortion. When asked specifically if they supported or opposed the use of public funds to provide coverage for abortion in health insurance plans created by Obamacare, 72% of Americans were in opposition! Only 23% percent supported publicly funded abortion coverage in insurance plans, and 5% did not know (Quinnipiac 2009).

In an effort to reflect the will of the people, 9 state governments have passed laws (and at least 16 more have pending legislation) prohibiting the coverage of abortion in any of the state insurance exchange programs instituted by Obamacare.

Several states have gone beyond this and restricted or proposed legislation restricting abortion coverage in all health insurance plans (public and private) except through the optional purchase of a rider.

In addition, several states which have not completely restricted abortion coverage in all insurance plans have restricted it in state-funded (read: taxpayer-funded) insurance plans.

The following map will give you a clear picture of the state of abortion coverage in insurance across the states:

= AL (SB183, SB202 and HB 558), AR (SB113), FL (H97 and S1414), GA (SB4 and SB29), IA (HF576, HSB57, and SF38), IN (SB116), KS (HB2292, HB2377), MI (HB4143 and HB4147), (MT SB176), NE (LB22 and LB132), NJ (A3085), OH (HB79), OR (HB3600), PA (SB3), SC (H3406 and S102), TX (HB552, HB636, HB1816, HB3112, HB3419 and SB404)

= AL (SB201, SB281 and HB557), IN (SB241), KS (HB2292, HB2377), MI (HB4143 and HB4147), MN (Only state-funded insurance: HF201, SF103), NE (LB22), OR (HB3600), SC (H3406), TX (SB404)

State of Montanas Governor

by Family Research Council

April 20, 2011

Simply put, he is a liberal Democrat. And that fact accounts for the recent failure of many Republican-backed pro-life and pro-family bills despite the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.

One individuals vote can make all the difference in the world, especially when that individual is the governor of a state. This point can be illustrated by looking at two states in particular: Arizona and Kansas. Both of their former governors, staunch democrats Janet Napolitano and Kathleen Sebelius respectively, were appointed to positions by President Barack Obama. Both states now have Republican governors: Jan Brewer in Arizona, and Sam Brownback in Kansas. In recent weeks several pro-life bills have been sent to those governors desks such as a bill prohibiting abortion after 22 weeks based on fetal pain in KS and a bill strengthening abortion clinic regulations in AZ. These and other similar bills would have been met with a ready veto a few years ago, but instead governors Brownback and Brewer were happy to agree with their legislatures and celebrate the bills passage.

Not so with Governor Brian Schweitzer in Montana. Three bills important to many constituents and legislators alike weathered the long process of hearings, votes, and amendments only to receive a prompt veto upon reaching the governors desk.

Senate Bill 176 prohibits the coverage of abortion in insurance plans created through state exchanges set up by Obamacare. The bill quotes a January 2010 Quinnipiac University poll which states that 7 in 10 Americans opposed the use of federal dollars to cover abortion in health insurance plans. Indeed, because of this, eight states have already passed bills that mirror SB 176 (AZ, ID, LA, MO, MS, TN, UT and VA). Unfortunately, Governor Schweitzer gave it a no-go and without a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override his veto whatever the governor says goes.

This is clearly illustrated with the switched votes of many democrat senators on the vote to override the veto of HB 30. This bill would exempt Health Care Sharing Ministries, faith-based, nonprofit organizations, from being regulated as disability insurance companies or policies. It passed both the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities, gaining the votes of Democrat and Republican legislators, however, when pressed to vote to override the Governors veto, many Democrat’s yeas turned into nays.

House Bill 161 repealing the medical marijuana law met a similar fate and was vetoed on April 13th. Click here to see a video highlighting the Governors position on medical marijuana.

Another strong pro-family bill, HB 456, which would have required parental consent for their childs participation in sex education classes in a public school, received a veto the same day. The bill also contained an important clause prohibiting any abortion service provider, such as abortion giant Planned Parenthood, from teaching any courses or offering any materials to students on the school grounds. With this veto the governor sends a message that he believes schools should decide when and how children learn about sex, not their parents.

The good news in all of this is that Governor Brian Schweitzer is term limited. It is not enough, however, to simply breathe a sigh of relief that he will not be running again in 2012. Those who wish to see legislation like that mentioned above signed into law in the future would do well to note that elections have consequences, a governor has an incredible influence on the policy of a state, and voters decide who the governor will be.

State of the 2011 Session in Review: Idaho

by Family Research Council

April 19, 2011

Since the Adjournment of Idahos 2011 legislative session on April 7th, a wide spectrum of adjectives have been used to describe this years proceedings. Governor Otter called it very succesful, while Senate Democrats called the session the worst in their collective memories. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis said it was a difficult session among some of the worst economic times in memory and Representative Erik Simpson summed it up by quoting Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

From a pro-life and pro-family perspective it is easy to agree with the Governor and call Idahos 2011 session very successful indeed. According to Julie Lynde, Executive director at Cornerstone Family Council, Governor Otter signed every piece of pro-life legislation that crossed his desk. And many of those measures were quite significant.

Fetal Pain

Idaho joined Nebraska and Kansas as the third state to prohibit late term abortions (in this case 20 or more weeks) based upon an unborn childs ability to feel pain. This is a huge step toward upholding the value of all life, and in reinforcing the humanity of the unborn child. At least 12 other state legislatures are advancing similar measures. (See the Fetal Pain state map here).

Prohibiting Abortion Coverage in Obamacare

With the passage of S 1115, Idaho ensured that abortion will not be covered in health plans created through the Health Exchange instituted in Obamacare. Seven other states have passed this same law (AZ, LA, MO, MS, TN, UT, VA) and at least 17 other states have introduced similar measures. The passage of this bill ensures that the current law in Idaho, which prohibits abortion coverage in all health insurance plans, will not be jeopardized by Obamacare.

In addition, a resolution was passed (HCR 23) which removed a dangerous Health and Welfare Medicaid rule that could be used to fund teen abortions and potentially circumvent existing parental consent laws.

Not only was unborn life further protected by the legislature this year, but life was also protected until natural death with the passage of S 1070 prohibiting physician assisted suicide.

Fiscally speaking it was also a productive session. Governor Otter was an active proponent of a bill that was passed to balance the budget without raising taxes and several educational reform bills removing collective bargaining for teachers, instilling a merit-based pay system, and shifting allocation of school funds toward technology.

Very successful seems to be an adequate description of this years session, though it is easy to see how some might disagree. Perhaps Senate President Pro Tempore Brent Hill sums it up best of all when he says: History will tell if this session was a great accomplishment or failure. Anyone who claims we haven’t accomplished much wasn’t paying attention.

State of the 2011 Session in Review: Maryland

by Family Research Council

April 12, 2011

Maryland legislators ended their three month session yesterday, April 11th. The completion of this years session brought the passage of bills that would raise the alcohol tax by three percent, increase the buffer zone between picketers and funerals, provide incentives for facilities that create energy by burning trash and many others. But more notable than what was passed, is what was not passed.

Same-Sex Marriage

Contrary to many predictions that Maryland would soon become the 6th state to legalize same-sex marriage, SB 116, which would accomplish that goal, failed to pass the House of Delegates and was recommitted to the House Judiciary Committee. This victory came through the dozens of phone calls and letters from those of you who stand for traditional marriage. Many thanks are due to Derek McCoy, President of the Association of Maryland Families, and their entire staff for the tireless work that was poured into supporting this effort.

This victory for traditional marriage, though huge, is not necessarily a permanent one. Since the bill was recommitted to committee, and not actually voted upon and failed, it can be brought up again next year at its current stage in the process. Indeed, Chuck Butler, chairman of Equality Maryland the states leading LGBT advocacy organization said:

So we agreed that if we could not pass the bill this year, we should try again next year. Importantly, House leadership committed to bringing up the bill again in 2012. To preserve our prospects of success, therefore, it was best not to hold a vote now, given the chances of the bills defeat by a wide margin. It would be more difficult, within a year, to convert no votes to yes than to obtain a yes from delegates who had not locked in their position with an actual vote.

Therefore we must remain ever vigilant on this issue, because homosexual activists certainly will.

Gender Identity

Another bill that ended in the did not pass category was HB 235, the gender identity bill which would prohibit alleged discrimination against a person based upon their gender identity. The concept of gender identity attempts to legitimize a person’s wish, perception or belief that he or she is actually the opposite sex than his or her own sex at birth. This type of legislation tries to normalize and mainstream transgendered behavior such as cross-dressing. House Bill 235 was recommitted to the Senate Judicial Proceeding Committee by a vote of 27 to 20.

These two victories in one of the most liberal states in the union are welcome news for everyone who stands for conservative family values!

For a more complete list of legislation that was passed (or failed) in Maryland this legislative session, click here.

State of Abortion Clinic Regulations in the States

by Family Research Council

April 6, 2011

Ambulatory Surgical Centers exist in all 50 states across the US. They are health care facilities that perform surgical procedures not requiring overnight hospitalization. They can also be known as outpatient facilities, performing pain management, diagnostic, and other minor surgical procedures. Under this definition it makes sense that an abortion facility would fall under the category of an Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) and should thus be regulated as one, however, prior to the 2011 legislative session only one state, Missouri, defined and regulated their abortion clinics as Ambulatory Surgical Centers. This lack of regulation of a procedure that has been documented to pose health risks to women is a dangerous oversight which needs correcting.

Fortunately, we are now starting to see this course-correction happening across the states. Since the horrific discovery of Kermit Gosnells House of Horrors in Philadelphia which facilitated the death of at least seven infants after they were born alive and two women, there has been a push in many state legislatures to further regulate abortion clinics.

In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell recently signed legislation that causes abortion clinics to be regulated like hospitals and instructs the Department of Health to create specific regulations to that end. The language for those regulations has yet to be finalized.

Delaware, also home to clinics where Kermit Gosnell performed his gruesome abortions, recently passed legislation through the House of Representatives (HB 47) that would further regulate abortion clinics (thought they are not mentioned by name).

In Arkansas a bill requiring clinics that perform ten or more surgical or chemical abortions a month to be licensed with the Department of Health (HB 1855) has been sent to the governors desk. Other measures regulating abortion clinics are also moving through the AR legislature.

The Illinois House voted yesterday on an amendment to a bill (HB 2093) that would require child abuse to be reported by more workers in centers that provide reproductive health care than currently required. Planned Parenthood and other organizations are opposing this bill, as well as another bill, HB 3156, that regulates abortion clinics as Ambulatory Surgical Centers.

Other state efforts to further regulate abortion clinics or define them as Ambulatory Surgical Centers can be seen in the second figure below and their corresponding state bill numbers can be referenced as well.

Gosnells House of Horrors is by no means the only place where deaths and other tragic abortion abuses have occurred. Amazingly, despite the publicity following Kermit Gosnell, abortion giant Planned Parenthood continues to lobby against such regulations just as they did against similar regulations that were designed in Pennsylvania to stop butchers like Gosnell.

Note: Information for the above map was gained from Americans United for Life.

IA (SF 40), IL (HB 3156), KS (HB 2337 and SB 165), KY (SB47), MD (HB 23 and SB 505), OK (HB 1548), OR (SB 901), PA (HB574) and TN (HB 956 and SB 47)

AZ (SB 1390), IN (HB 1204 and SB 328), OK (HB1642) and TX (HB 2787)

DE (HB 47), IN (HB 1474), MD (HB 18, HB 19, HB 20, HB 187, and HB 746), MI (HB 150, HB 4119, HB 4120, SB 54 and SB 55), MO (HB 483), ND (HB 1297), NM (SB 225), OK (HB 1970), TN (HB 435 and SB 642) and TX (HB 2555 and HB 3446)

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