Halfway Point: Key Issues Come into Focus

During the House floor proceedings on Monday, March 25, Republican legislators tried to prioritize the restoration of religious freedom protections in the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) by moving to declare an urgency on the matter, which allows a bill to bypass the committee process and move right to a floor vote.  

Restoration of Religious Exemption 

As previously covered in Inside the Capitol, a change e was made last year to the MHRA that added a more specific definition of "gender identity" as a protected status but omitted a corresponding religious exemption for religious organizations and schools. This omission effectively restricts those ministry entities from adhering to their religious beliefs concerning human sexuality. This could entail scenarios such as the MHRA compelling a church to hire a transgender individual as its religious education director.   

Regrettably, legislators voted to table the motion instead of taking action to reinstate religious protections. 

Archbishop Bernard Hebda observed the proceedings and shared his response to the events, highlighting the significance of restoring these protections and suggesting how Catholics statewide can engage in this issue. WATCH HERE 

Over the past two months, legislators have had three opportunities to reinstate the exemption, all of which have been missed. This inaction represents a serious encroachment on religious liberties in Minnesota. 

You're invited to join the Minnesota Catholic Conference of Bishops and more than ten other faith groups across the religious and ideological spectrum by adding your name to a petition urging elected officials in to restore the religious exemption to the Minnesota Human Rights Act. 

Visit www.mncatholic.org/mhra to learn more about the issue, sign the petition, and send a message to your legislators.  

Legislative Deadlines Provide New Insights 

The legislative session hit its first and second deadlines, which required committees in both chambers to act favorably on policy bills to still be considered for final passage this year. With the legislative session now halfway through, this milestone offers crucial insights into the fate of bills, signaling which ones still have a chance of passing by May 20 and which will likely be deferred until 2025.  

Notably, the physician-assisted suicide (PAS) bill (H.F. 1930/S.F. 1813) has garnered significant attention this year, marking the most progress it has seen in the past decade. But despite passing through four different House committees, thanks to amazing citizen engagement and thousands of calls and emails, it failed to secure a hearing in the Senate before policy deadlines, significantly dimming its prospects of becoming law this session. While this outcome brings relief, it underscores the need for continued vigilance to prevent the passage of physician-assisted suicide in subsequent years. 

In addition to the PAS bill, other significant bills under debate this session include those concerning the legalization of surrogacy arrangements, legalization of online sports betting, a proposed Equal Rights Amendment, and insurance mandates related to abortion, assisted reproduction technologies, and so-called gender affirming care. These bills continue to be active, as they have passed the first two deadlines.  

To stay informed on these issues and have the opportunity to take action, we encourage you to join the Catholic Advocacy Network at www.mncatholic.org/join. 

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