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Legislator Proposes Bill to Declare Religious Organizations Essential Businesses

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Representative Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) has filed legislation which would deem religious organizations in the state as essential businesses.

The bill, HB 525, would prohibit the operations of religious organizations such as churches from seeing their activities limited by the government. The bill specifies that this does include times during which there is a declared state of disaster.

If a governmental entity violates the proposed law, a person would be able to seek injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. In such a case, “sovereign or governmental immunity, as applicable, is waived and abolished to the extent of liability for that relief.”

The bill would not make such protections retroactive and would go into effect next September unless passed by a two-thirds majority of all members of each house, in which case it would go into effect immediately.

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