Bill Text: NH HB542 | 2021 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Relative to the applicability of a state of emergency declaration to a house of worship.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 3-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2021-03-05 - Public Hearing: 03/05/2021 10:00 am Members of the public may attend using the following link: To join the webinar: https://www.zoom.us/j/97676008758 / Executive session on pending legislation may be held throughout the day (time permitting) from the time the committee is initially convened. [HB542 Detail]

Download: New_Hampshire-2021-HB542-Introduced.html

HB 542  - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2021 SESSION

21-0726

05/08

 

HOUSE BILL 542

 

AN ACT relative to the applicability of a state of emergency declaration to a house of worship.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. Ammon, Hills. 40; Rep. Kofalt, Hills. 4; Rep. O'Hara, Belk. 9

 

COMMITTEE: Judiciary

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This bill provides that any prohibition on in-person gatherings during a declared state of emergency shall not apply to houses of worship.

 

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

21-0726

05/08

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty One

 

AN ACT relative to the applicability of a state of emergency declaration to a house of worship.

 

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

 

1  Legislative Finding.  If not checked, governments may trample on religious exercise by crafting generally applicable laws which do not explicitly target a religion or religious activity.  The fact that a law is generally applicable does not mean that it complies with the federal or state free exercise clauses.  As the United States Supreme Court has said, the “constitutional rights of those spreading their religious beliefs through the spoken and printed word are not to be gauged by standards governing retailers or wholesalers of books.” Murdock v. Com. of Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105, 111 (1943).

2  New Paragraph; State of Emergency Declaration; Powers; Application to Houses of Worship Limited.  Amend RSA 4:45 by inserting after paragraph III the following new paragraph:

IV.  To guarantee the free exercise of religion and right of the people to peaceably assemble, as required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Part I, Article 5 of the New Hampshire constitution, any powers activated pursuant to a state of emergency shall not prohibit in-person gatherings at established houses of worship, such as churches, monasteries, mosques, shrines, synagogues, or temples, or temporary places of worship, such as a home bible study or other religious worship or study group or venue.

3  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

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