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Legislative update

Thursday, March 28, 2024


Dear Neighbor,

I want to wish residents of District 27A a happy Easter. I hope you are able to spend extra time with friends and family this holiday as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. This also is a good time to reach out to people in our community that may be alone to see if they need any help or just to talk.

Holy Week makes this the perfect time to get back to the subject of some legislators in St. Paul declaring open season on our religious freedoms. Here's the skinny on how the House majority this week blew a chance to fix the problem they created and reassure Minnesotans they are not coming for their First Amendment rights:

House Republicans hosted a press conference on Monday, with dozens of religious leaders from around the state joining the minority's call for religious freedom to be restored in the Minnesota Human Rights Act, protecting religious organizations and faith-based schools against claims of gender identity discrimination.

Shortly thereafter, the majority tabled a House Republican motion to bring forward legislation to make that happen. It was the third time this session they had at least temporarily blocked a Republican attempt at restoring religious freedom language to the HRA, following committee votes in both the House and the Senate.

When faith leaders in Minnesota first raised concerns over this issue a number of months ago, it may have been easy to assume it was a simple oversight that could be easily corrected during this legislative session. It is unfortunate we have now gotten to a point where it is quite clear this was not a mistake made last year, rather an intentional strike on religious freedom.

Before last year, when gender identity was included (or subsumed) within the MHRA definition of sexual orientation, the still-existing religious exemption for sexual orientation covered gender identity claims as well. When a new, separate definition of gender identity was created last year, there was no corresponding religious exemption added. 

In response, House Republicans authored H.F. 3926, ensuring religious organizations and faith-based schools can, among other things, hire teachers and ministers consistent with their mission and values. It remains unclear when – or if – the Democrat-controlled House will revisit that bill. At least one faith-based school already is facing an employment complaint at the department of human rights because of the removal of the exemption.

Frustrated Minnesotans are free to draw their own conclusions. This is a frontal attack on our constitutional rights and some legislators apparently do not care what you think about your freedoms. They continue coming for our Second Amendment rights which, to those who don't own guns or aren't looking at the bigger picture, might not be a big deal. But what about the extremists coming for our First Amendment freedom of speech and religious liberties ... while also coming for our 10th Amendment that says any powers not given to the federal government are reserved for the states?

It all ties together and, one way or another, it impacts us all. I will keep fighting for our constitutional rights at the Capitol and thank you to everyone who has been exercising their own voice on this issue.

As always, please stay in touch and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you with any issues or concerns. Have a good Easter and be safe out on the roads.