Wyoming Religious Freedom Restoration Act (HB 83)
This law was last updated on Dec 12, 2016
HB 83 would prohibit the government, “including action by anyone acting under state law,” from burdening a person’s right the exercise of religion or moral conscience, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.
Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion or moral conscience only if it demonstrates that application of the burden is essential to further a compelling government interest; and the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
The bill defines exercise of religion to mean “the practice or observance of religion, including an act or refusal to act, that is substantially motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, whether or not compelled by or central to a system of religious belief.”
The bill defines moral conscience to mean “an individual exercise of judgment whereby the person recognizes the moral or ethical quality of an act and is compelled to:
- Perform the act because it is an act of good will or good faith; or
- Avoid performing the act because the person believes the act to be evil or wrong.”
The bill would not allow government employees or officials to refuse to perform any of the duties or responsibilities which are required of that person’s position or office, regardless of the person’s religious or moral objections.
A person whose exercise of religion or moral conscience has been burdened may assert that violation as a claim or defense in any judicial or administrative proceeding and obtain appropriate relief, including equitable relief, against the government or person acting under color of state law.
The bill would be liberally construed in favor of the “broad interpretation of the exercise of religious and moral conscience to the maximum extent permitted by this act and the Wyoming constitution and the United States constitution.”
The amendment does not allow religious freedom to be raised as a defense in lawsuits between private citizens and therefore tracks the federal RFRA.