'Religious Freedom' Bill 'Unlikely' to Surface This Session at Idaho Statehouse


Saying his measure was misinterpreted, Boise Republican Rep. Lynn Luker says it's now unlikely that his so-called "religious freedom" bill will resurface during the current session of the Idaho Legislature.

A three hour-plus hearing, featuring a flood of opposition, filled the Idaho House State Affairs Committee room (and two overflow rooms) Feb. 5, when House Bill 427 was introduced. Luker proposed extending protections to people of faith who are sued by individuals who believe they've been discriminated against.

Among those testifying against the bill was Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan, who told the committee that the city was "prepared to defend" its own anti-discrimination ordinance. Additionally, Episcopal Church of Idaho Bishop Brian Thom said the proposed bill would "distort a protection of religious freedom."

Two Republicans, Priest Lake Rep. Eric Anderson and McCammon Rep. Kelly Packer, sided with three Democrats on the committee in a losing effort to kill the measure, while 11 Republicans voted to send Luker's bill to general orders.

But the bill has languished in the Idaho House for more than a week, where House Speaker Rep. Scott Bedke said it would be wise for the House to take what he called a "pause" before the bill moves again.

Finally, the bill was kicked back to the House State Affairs Committee for Luker to rework some of its language, but Wednesday morning, Luker told the Associated Press that it was a fair bet the measure would not surface again, at least this session.