Bill Text: TX HB1035 | 2019-2020 | 86th Legislature | Introduced


Bill Title: Relating to protecting freedom of conscience from government discrimination.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 27-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-04-18 - Left pending in committee [HB1035 Detail]

Download: Texas-2019-HB1035-Introduced.html
  86R1387 LED-F
 
  By: Zedler H.B. No. 1035
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to protecting freedom of conscience from government
  discrimination.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Title 5, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, is
  amended by adding Chapter 110A to read as follows:
  CHAPTER 110A. FREE TO BELIEVE ACT
  SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS
         Sec. 110A.001.  DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
               (1)  "Discriminatory action" means any action taken by
  a governmental entity to:
                     (A)  withhold, reduce, exclude, terminate,
  materially alter the terms or conditions of, or otherwise make
  unavailable or deny any grant, contract, subcontract, cooperative
  agreement, guarantee, loan, scholarship, license, certification,
  accreditation, custody award or agreement, diploma, grade,
  recognition, or other similar benefit, position, or status from or
  to a person;
                     (B)  withhold, reduce, exclude, terminate,
  materially alter the terms or conditions of, or otherwise make
  unavailable or deny an entitlement or benefit provided under a
  state benefit program from or to a person;
                     (C)  alter in any way the tax treatment of, cause
  any tax, penalty, or payment assessment against, or deny, delay,
  revoke, or otherwise make unavailable a tax exemption of a person;
                     (D)  disallow, deny, or otherwise make
  unavailable a tax deduction for any charitable contribution made to
  or by a person;
                     (E)  impose, levy, or assess a monetary fine, fee,
  penalty, or injunction against a person; or
                     (F)  refuse to hire or promote, force the
  resignation of, fire, demote, sanction, discipline, materially
  alter the terms or conditions of employment of, or retaliate or take
  other adverse employment action against a person who is employed or
  commissioned by a governmental entity.
               (2)  "Governmental entity" means:
                     (A)  this state;
                     (B)  a board, bureau, commission, council,
  department, or other agency of this state, including an institution
  of higher education as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code;
                     (C)  the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Court of
  Criminal Appeals, a state judicial agency, the State Bar of Texas,
  or a court in this state;
                     (D)  a political subdivision of this state,
  including a county, municipality, or special district or authority;
                     (E)  an officer, employee, or agent of an entity
  described by Paragraphs (A)-(D); or
                     (F)  a private person suing under or attempting to
  enforce a law, rule, order, or ordinance adopted by an entity
  described by Paragraphs (A)-(D).
               (3)  "Person" has the meaning assigned by Section
  311.005, Government Code.
               (4)  "Religious organization" means:
                     (A)  a house of worship, including a church,
  synagogue, shrine, mosque, or temple;
                     (B)  a religious group, corporation, association,
  school or educational institution, ministry, order, society, or
  similar entity, regardless of whether the entity is integrated or
  affiliated with a church or other house of worship; or
                     (C)  an officer, owner, employee, manager,
  religious leader, member of the clergy, or minister of an entity or
  organization described in this subdivision.
               (5)  "State benefit program" means any program
  administered or funded by a governmental entity that provides cash,
  payments, grants, contracts, loans, or in-kind assistance.
         Sec. 110A.002.  SHORT TITLE. This chapter may be cited as
  the Free to Believe Act.
         Sec. 110A.003.  SINCERELY HELD RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OR MORAL
  CONVICTIONS. The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral
  convictions protected by this chapter are a belief or conviction
  that:
               (1)  marriage is or should be recognized as the union of
  one man and one woman; and
               (2)  the terms "male," "man," "female," and "woman"
  refer to an individual's immutable biological sex as objectively
  determined by anatomy and genetics at the time of birth.
         Sec. 110A.004.  CONSTRUCTION OF CHAPTER. (a) This chapter
  shall be construed in favor of a broad protection of the free
  exercise of religious beliefs and moral convictions to the maximum
  extent allowed by this chapter and the state and federal
  constitutions.
         (b)  The protections of free exercise of religious beliefs
  and moral convictions afforded by this chapter are in addition to
  the protections provided under federal or state law and the state
  and federal constitutions.
         (c)  This chapter may not be construed to preempt or repeal a
  state or local law that is equally or more protective of the free
  exercise of religious beliefs or moral convictions or to narrow the
  meaning or application of a state or local law protecting the free
  exercise of religious beliefs or moral convictions.
         (d)  This chapter may not be construed to prevent a
  governmental entity from providing, either directly or through a
  person who is not seeking protection under this chapter, any
  benefit or service authorized under state law.
         (e)  This chapter applies to and in case of conflict
  supersedes each statute of this state that impinges on the free
  exercise of religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by
  this chapter. This chapter also applies to and in case of conflict
  supersedes an ordinance, rule, regulation, order, opinion,
  decision, practice, or other exercise of a governmental entity's
  authority that impinges on the free exercise of religious beliefs
  or moral convictions protected by this chapter.
         Sec. 110A.005.  APPLICABILITY. This chapter is excluded
  from the application of Chapter 110.
  SUBCHAPTER B. DISCRIMINATORY ACTION BY GOVERNMENTAL ENTITY
  PROHIBITED
         Sec. 110A.051.  ACTIVITIES OF RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION. A
  governmental entity may not take any discriminatory action against
  a religious organization wholly or partly because the organization,
  based on or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious
  belief or moral conviction protected by this chapter:
               (1)  makes an employment-related decision, including a
  decision to terminate, to discipline, or not to hire an individual
  whose conduct or religious beliefs are inconsistent with the
  beliefs of the religious organization; or
               (2)  makes a decision concerning the sale, rental, or
  occupancy of, or the terms and conditions of occupying, a dwelling
  or other housing under the religious organization's control.
         Sec. 110A.052.  SEX REASSIGNMENT OR GENDER IDENTITY
  TRANSITIONING. (a) A governmental entity may not take any
  discriminatory action against a person wholly or partly because the
  person, based on or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held
  religious belief or moral conviction protected by this chapter,
  declines to participate in providing:
               (1)  treatment, counseling, or surgery related to sex
  reassignment or gender identity transitioning; or
               (2)  psychological, counseling, or fertility services.
         (b)  This section may not be construed to allow a person to
  deny visitation, recognition of a designated representative for
  health care decision-making, or emergency medical treatment
  necessary to cure an illness or injury as required by law.
         Sec. 110A.053.  MARRIAGE-RELATED GOODS AND SERVICES. A
  governmental entity may not take any discriminatory action against
  a person wholly or partly because the person, based on or in a
  manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral
  conviction protected by this chapter, has provided or declined to
  provide the following for a purpose related to the solemnization,
  formation, celebration, or recognition of a marriage:
               (1)  photography, poetry, videography, disc jockey
  services, wedding planning, printing, publishing, or similar
  marriage-related goods or services; or
               (2)  floral arrangements, dressmaking, cake or pastry
  artistry, assembly hall or other wedding venue rentals, limousine
  or other car service rentals, jewelry sales and services, or
  similar marriage-related services, accommodations, facilities,
  goods, or privileges.
         Sec. 110A.054.  EMPLOYEE AND STUDENT POLICIES. A
  governmental entity may not take any discriminatory action against
  a person wholly or partly because the person, based on or in a
  manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral
  conviction protected by this chapter, establishes sex-specific
  standards or policies concerning:
               (1)  employee or student dress or grooming; or
               (2)  access to restrooms, spas, baths, showers,
  dressing rooms, locker rooms, or other intimate facilities or
  settings.
         Sec. 110A.055.  GOVERNMENTAL EMPLOYEE SPEECH OR CONDUCT. A
  governmental entity may not take any discriminatory action against
  an employee wholly or partly because the employee lawfully speaks
  or engages in expressive conduct, based on or in a manner consistent
  with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction
  protected by this chapter, so long as:
               (1)  if the speech or expressive conduct occurs in the
  workplace, the speech or expressive conduct is consistent with the
  time, place, manner, and frequency of any other expression of a
  religious, political, or moral belief or conviction that would be
  protected; or
               (2)  if the speech or expressive conduct occurs outside
  the workplace, the speech or expressive conduct is in the
  employee's personal capacity and outside the course of performing
  work duties.
         Sec. 110A.056.  RECUSAL FROM MARRIAGE LICENSING. (a) A
  person employed by or acting on behalf of a governmental entity who
  has authority to authorize or license marriages, including a county
  clerk or deputy county clerk, may seek recusal from authorizing or
  licensing lawful marriages, based on or in a manner consistent with
  a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction protected by
  this chapter.
         (b)  A person making a recusal under this section shall
  provide written notice to the vital statistics unit of the
  Department of State Health Services before the recusal. The vital
  statistics unit shall keep a record of the recusal.
         (c)  A person making a recusal under this section shall take
  all necessary steps to ensure that the authorization and licensing
  of a legally valid marriage is not impeded or delayed as a result of
  the recusal.
         (d)  A governmental entity may not take any discriminatory
  action against a person described by Subsection (a) wholly or
  partly because of the recusal.
         Sec. 110A.057.  RECUSAL FROM MARRIAGE PERFORMANCE. (a) A
  person employed by or acting on behalf of a governmental entity who
  has authority to perform or solemnize marriages, including a judge,
  magistrate, or justice of the peace, may seek recusal from
  performing or solemnizing lawful marriages, based on or in a manner
  consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral
  conviction protected by this chapter.
         (b)  A person making a recusal under this section shall
  provide written notice to the Office of Court Administration of the
  Texas Judicial System before the recusal.
         (c)  The Office of Court Administration of the Texas Judicial
  System shall take all necessary steps to ensure that the
  performance or solemnization of any legally valid marriage is not
  impeded or delayed as a result of any recusal under this section.
         (d)  A governmental entity may not take any discriminatory
  action against a person described by Subsection (a) wholly or
  partly because of the recusal.
         Sec. 110A.058.  ACCREDITATION, LICENSING, AND
  CERTIFICATION. A governmental entity shall consider a person
  accredited, licensed, or certified if the person would be
  accredited, licensed, or certified, respectively, under state law
  except for a determination against the person wholly or partly
  because the person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a
  sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction protected by
  this chapter.
  SUBCHAPTER C. PROCEDURES
         Sec. 110A.101.  SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY WAIVED. Sovereign
  immunity to suit and from liability is waived and abolished to the
  extent of liability created by Section 110A.103. A person may sue a
  governmental entity for damages allowed by that section.
         Sec. 110A.102.  CLAIM OR DEFENSE BASED ON DISCRIMINATORY
  ACTION. (a) A person may assert a violation of Subchapter B as a
  claim against a governmental entity in a judicial or administrative
  proceeding or as a defense in a judicial or administrative
  proceeding without regard to whether the proceeding is brought by
  or in the name of the governmental entity, a private person, or
  another party.
         (b)  An action under this chapter may be commenced, and
  relief may be granted, in a court of this state without regard to
  whether the person commencing the action has sought or exhausted
  available administrative remedies.
         Sec. 110A.103.  INJUNCTIVE RELIEF; DAMAGES. (a) An aggrieved
  person must first seek injunctive relief to prevent or remedy a
  violation of this chapter or the effects of a violation of this
  chapter.
         (b)  Subject to Subsections (c) and (d), if a court has
  granted injunctive relief and the injunction is violated, only then
  may the aggrieved person seek:
               (1)  compensatory damages for pecuniary and
  nonpecuniary losses;
               (2)  reasonable attorney's fees and court costs; and
               (3)  any other appropriate relief.
         (c)  Only declaratory relief and injunctive relief are
  available against a private person not acting under the authority
  of a governmental entity on a successful assertion of a claim or
  defense under this chapter.
         (d)  Liability of a governmental entity for compensatory
  damages under Subsection (b)(1) may not exceed $500,000 for all
  claims arising out of a single occurrence.  A person is not entitled
  to recover exemplary damages or prejudgment interest under this
  chapter.
         Sec. 110A.104.  TWO-YEAR LIMITATIONS PERIOD. A person must
  bring an action to assert a claim under this chapter not later than
  two years after the date the person knew or should have known that a
  discriminatory action was taken against that person.
         SECTION 2.  The change in law made by this Act applies only
  to a cause of action that accrues on or after the effective date of
  this Act. A cause of action that accrues before the effective date
  of this Act is governed by the law applicable to the cause of action
  immediately before that date, and that law is continued in effect
  for that purpose.
         SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2019.
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