Legislative Update

The AACS Legislative Office monitors legislation and activities relating to education, religious liberty, family values, and pro-life issues.

Current Legislation—115th Congress

Post date: 12/14/2016


EDUCATION LEGISLATION 


H.R.5148

To amend the Department of Education Organization Act and the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require publication of information relating to religious exemptions to the requirements of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and for other purposes.

Date Introduced: April 29, 2016

Sponsor: Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA-5)

Co-sponsors: 4

Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training

For More Information: See H.R.5148

AACS Description: This bill would effectively “name and shame” religious institutions for practicing their religion. This list has already been made and published by the Department of Education, but this bill would require the list as a matter of federal law. We recommend OPPOSITION to legislation that narrows the meaning of the first amendment or diminishes religious liberty or harasses religious institutions or individuals.

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H.R.5812

Civil Rights Uniformity Act of 2016

Date Introduced: July 14, 2016

Sponsor: Representative Pete Olsen (R-TX-22)

Co-sponsors: 4

Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice

For More Information: See H.R.5812

AACS Description: This legislation is designed to standardize the federal bureaucracy’s interpretation of the word sex to mean biological sex and to prevent reinterpretation of civil rights law by bureaucrats attempting to include sexual orientation or gender identity. We recommend SUPPORT for legislation that upholds the natural distinction between the biological sexes and limits the government’s ability to force institutions and individuals to violate their beliefs regarding sexual orientation and gender.


RELIGIOUS LIBERTY ISSUES


H.R.2802

First Amendment Defense Act

To prevent discriminatory treatment of any person on the basis of views held with respect to marriage

Date Introduced: June 17, 2015

Sponsor: Representative Raul Labrador (R-ID-1)

Co-sponsors: 172

Status: Referred to the House Ways and Means Committee

For More Information: See H.R.2802

AACS Description: In its original language, this bill is designed to protect institutions and individuals who hold to a traditional view of marriage from government penalties or exclusion. We recommend SUPPORT for legislation that upholds the rights of institutions and individuals to hold religious opinions and practices in keeping with their beliefs without fear of government sanction or exclusion.

S.1598

First Amendment Defense Act (Companion Bill to the House Version)

To prevent discriminatory treatment of any person on the basis of views held with respect to marriage

Date Introduced: June 17, 2015

Sponsor: Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)

Co-sponsors: 37

Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

For More Information: See S.1598

AACS Description: In its original language, this bill is designed to protect institutions and individuals who hold to a traditional view of marriage from government penalties or exclusion. We recommend SUPPORT for legislation that upholds the rights of institutions and individuals to hold religious opinions without fear of government sanction or exclusion.


PRO-FAMILY / PRO-LIFE LEGISLATION


H.R.4828

Conscience Protection Act of 2016

This bill amends the public Health Service Act to codify the prohibition against the federal, state and local governments that receive federal financial assistance for health-related activities penalizing or discriminating against a health care provider based on the provider’s refusal to participate in, or provide coverage for, abortion.

Date Introduced: March 22, 2016

Sponsor: Representative John Fleming (R-LA-4)

Co-sponsors: 104

Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health

For More Information: See H.R.4828

AACS Description: This legislation attempts to protect the conscience rights of all health care providers who wish not to participate in, or provide coverage for, an abortion. We recommend SUPPORT for legislation that protects the conscience rights of the born, and the right to life for the unborn.

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H.R.36

Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

This Bill amends the federal criminal code to prohibit any person from performing or attempting to perform an abortion, except in conformity with this Act’s requirements. The requirements prohibit an abortion from being performed if the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is 20 weeks or greater, except: (1) where necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury, excluding psychological or emotional conditions; (2) where the pregnancy is the result of rape against an adult woman and, at least 48 hours prior to the abortion, such woman has obtained counseling for the rape or medical treatment for the rape or an injury related to the rape; or (3) where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest against a minor and the rape or incest has been reported prior to the abortion to a law enforcement agency or a government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse.

Date Introduced: January 6, 2015

Sponsor: Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ-8)

Co-sponsors: 186

Status: Passed the House (5/13/15)

For More Information: See H.R.36

AACS Description: Passage of this bill in the House marked an historic advance in the battle to protect unborn babies. The bill’s protections are based on scientific research showing that unborn babies are capable of feeling pain at 20 weeks gestation. We recommend SUPPORT of legislation that protects the lives of unborn children in that it protects our most vulnerable citizens.


Legislative Issues


The Article 1 Project (A1P)

A1P is a network of Congressional conservatives working together on a new agenda to restore Congress’s proper constitutional role and provide accountability to the Executive Branch. Senator Mike Lee (UT) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX), along with eight other Republican Senators and Representatives, developed this project based on their belief that Article 1 of our Constitution contains the answer to fixing the current state of dysfunction in Washington and the overreach by the administration. A1P aims to develop and advocate specific, structural reforms in four key areas: reining in executive discretion, reforming legislative “cliffs,” restoring Congressional power over federal regulations and regulators, and reclaiming Congress’s power of the purse.

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New Overtime Rules

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the highly anticipated updates to the federal overtime regulations. The AACS Legislative Director, Jamison Coppola, worked with conservative groups in Washington for a number of months to mitigate the impact of the proposed rule on Christian schools and other nonprofits. While some of those efforts were not successful, some adjustments were made and the overall effect on most Christian school ministries will not be significant. The main focus of the new regulations is to ensure that certain workers earning less than $47,476 per year ($913/week) will now be eligible for overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week. If an employee does not work more than 40 hours per week—or, if an employee earns at least $47,476 per year—then the new guidelines do not apply.

The good news is, a federal judge has granted an injunction against the new overtime rules being imposed by the Obama administration, blocking the rules from taking effect anywhere in the country. The rules were set to take effect December 1, 2016. The ruling, issued by U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant, was in response to a lawsuit filed by 21 states and over 50 businesses which charged that the new rules would cause an unfair increase to employment costs and, for state governments, would give the federal government too much control over state employees’ wages. In his decision, Judge Mazzant found that the administration likely overstepped its authority when creating the rules. It is possible that an appeals court will overturn the injunction, but it is also likely that the rule will be dropped or significantly amended by the incoming Trump administration.

 

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