Gov. Beshear undecided on Religious Freedom Act as veto deadline - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Gov. Beshear undecided on Religious Freedom Act as veto deadline approaches

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FRANKFORT, Ky (WDRB) -- With a Friday deadline approaching, Gov. Steve Beshear says he still has not decided what to do about a controversial religious freedom bill. The pressure is building from both sides.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has joined the chorus of those urging Gov. Steve Beshear to veto HB 279, the Religious Freedom Act.

In a letter to Gov. Beshear, Mayor Fischer said HB 279 "Would take us backwards as a city and Commonwealth" and hurt our position in the global economy.

He went on to say, "We are a compassionate city. We don't need this proposed law ... to prove our religious freedom and protect our citizens from a perceived threat."

Fischer is out of town and not available for comment. But his concerns are similar to those expressed by groups such as the Fairness Campaign and the ACLU.

"While the intent might not be discrimination, we do know the affect would be discrimination," said Derek Selznick of the ACLU.

Supporters say HB 279 simply protects individuals who choose to ignore laws they believe violate their religious liberty.

The bill was prompted by the case of Amish men jailed over their refusal to display orange safety decals on their carriages.

The bill did pass by veto-proof margins in both the House and Senate. And supporters point out that more than a dozen states have already passed similar laws.

"There is 20 years experience with these kinds of laws. These horrible results have never occurred. Twenty years ago, this was completely non-controversial. I'm not entirely sure why it's so controversial now," said Jason Hall of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky.

Following the public signing of another bill, the governor said he still has not made up his mind about HB 279.

"I'm spending as much time as I can to make sure we understand all the potential ramifications of the bill before I make a final decision," said Beshear.

The governor has until Friday to sign the bill, veto it, or it could become law without his signature.

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