After Gov. Andy Beshear put a freeze on large gatherings, including church services, a litany of heated debates followed.
Elements of those debates are still floating around the General Assembly, which is apparent from House Bill 43, a piece of legislation that has passed through both chambers and would prevent a “government entity” from prohibiting religious operations or gatherings during a state of emergency to a greater extent than those imposed on essential services “vital to the health and welfare of the public.”
The bill passed the Senate 30-7, and now heads to the governor’s desk. Republican lawmakers have a supermajority in both chambers and are able to override a veto from the governor.
The bill would also prevent the government from taking “discriminatory action” action against a religious organization which would include altering tax structures, imposing fines or reducing grants, loans, contracts or similar benefits.
During the debate of the bill, Sen Robby Mills, a Republican from Henderson, said that church services are an important part of mental health.
“It feeds our soul, helps us mentally and places within us a purpose to be better and love others better,” Mills said.
Sen. Karen Berg, a Democratic from Louisville, voted against it.
During the explanation of her no vote, she said that the bill would open up lawsuits against the state.
“I might add that I too am extremely religious, and somehow my congregation was able to maintain services online with in-person communication to congregates that needed it during this entire pandemic with very little interruption to our congregation, so it is doable,” Berg said.
Keep Louisville interesting and support LEO Weekly by subscribing to our newsletter here. In return, you’ll receive news with an edge and the latest on where to eat, drink and hang out in Derby City.