This website will be unavailable from Thursday, May 30, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. through Monday, June 3, 2024 at 7:00 a.m. due to data center maintenance.

  87R10844 YDB-D
 
  By: Hancock S.B. No. 1681
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to the protection of religious organizations.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Subtitle H, Title 10, Government Code, is
  amended by adding Chapter 2401 to read as follows:
  CHAPTER 2401. PROTECTION OF RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS
         Sec. 2401.001.  DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
               (1)  "Governmental entity" means:
                     (A)  this state;
                     (B)  a board, commission, council, department, or
  other agency in the executive, judicial, or legislative branch of
  state government that is created by the state constitution or a
  statute, including an institution of higher education as defined by
  Section 61.003, Education Code;
                     (C)  a political subdivision of this state; or
                     (D)  an officer, employee, or agent of an entity
  described by Paragraphs (A) through (C).
               (2)  "Religious organization" means an organization
  established to support and serve the propagation of a sincerely
  held religious belief.
         Sec. 2401.002.  RELIEF AVAILABLE. (a)  A person may assert
  an actual or threatened violation of Section 6-a, Article I, Texas
  Constitution, as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative
  proceeding and obtain:
               (1)  injunctive relief;
               (2)  declaratory relief; and
               (3)  court costs and reasonable attorney's fees.
         (b)  Notwithstanding any other law, a person may commence an
  action under this section and relief may be granted regardless of
  whether the person has sought or exhausted available administrative
  remedies.
         Sec. 2401.003.  IMMUNITY WAIVED. A person who alleges a
  violation of Section 6-a, Article I, Texas Constitution, may sue
  the governmental entity for the relief provided under Section
  2401.002. Sovereign or governmental immunity, as applicable, is
  waived and abolished to the extent of liability for that relief.
         Sec. 2401.004.  ATTORNEY GENERAL ACTION; INTERVENTION IN
  PROCEEDING; PROHIBITED RECOVERY OF EXPENSES.  (a)  The attorney
  general may bring an action for injunctive or declaratory relief
  against a governmental entity to enforce compliance with Section
  6-a, Article I, Texas Constitution.
         (b)  This section may not be construed to deny, impair, or
  otherwise affect any authority of the attorney general or a
  governmental entity acting under other law to institute or
  intervene in an action.
         (c)  The attorney general may not recover expenses incurred
  in bringing, instituting, or intervening in an action described by
  this section.
         Sec. 2401.005.  INTERPRETATION. (a) This chapter and
  Section 6-a, Article I, Texas Constitution, may not be construed to
  preempt state or federal constitutional or statutory law that is
  equally or more protective of the free exercise of religious
  beliefs or to narrow the meaning or application of state or federal
  constitutional or statutory law protecting the free exercise of
  religious beliefs.
         (b)  This chapter and Section 6-a, Article I, Texas
  Constitution, 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 or federal constitutional or statutory law.
         Sec. 2401.006.  SUSPENSION PROHIBITED.  The protections
  guaranteed under Section 6-a, Article I, Texas Constitution, and
  this chapter may not be suspended.
         SECTION 2.  Chapter 2401, Government Code, as added 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 accrued before
  the effective date of this Act is governed by the law in effect
  immediately before the effective date of this Act, and that law is
  continued in effect for that purpose.
         SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect January 1, 2022, but only
  if the constitutional amendment proposed by the 87th Legislature,
  Regular Session, 2021, to prohibit this state or a political
  subdivision of this state from prohibiting or limiting a religious
  service conducted by a religious organization is approved by the
  voters.  If that proposed constitutional amendment is not approved
  by the voters, this Act has no effect.