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Stickland Files Legislation to Protect Hobby Lobby

January 24, 2013

AUSTIN, TX—State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford) today introduced House Bill 649 to protect Hobby Lobby and other religiously-based businesses which are currently under attack by the Obama Administration. The administration is using The Patient Protection and Affordability Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” to force businesses to pay for certain “emergency contraception” the owners consider abortion–inducing drugs. If the businesses refuse, they face penalties of up to $100 per employee per day.

Stickland also filed House Concurrent Resolution 32 expressing the Legislature’s position that the contraceptives mandates are an unconstitutional violation of the religious liberties of business owners. The resolution urges Congress and the Federal Department of Health and Human Services to provide an exemption to contraceptive mandates and penalties for religiously-based businesses and organizations.

Stickland’s bill and resolution were filed in response to Obama Administration threats to fine Hobby Lobby up to $1.3 million per day if the company does not expand its insurance coverage to include the “morning after pill” and the “week after pill.” The owners of Hobby Lobby state that “the foundation of [their] business has been, and will continue to be strong values, and honoring the Lord in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.” In accordance with those beliefs the owners have refused to provide insurance coverage for the “morning after pill” and the “week after pill” because they consider them abortion-inducing drugs. They have called the contraception mandate a “poison pill” which they are willing to swallow, regardless of the financial consequences to their business, in order to avoid abandoning their religious faith and consciences.

“The First Amendment to the Constitution protects individuals from having their religious consciences violated by the Federal Government,” said Rep. Stickland. “But the Obama administration’s mandate and their threats to bury Hobby Lobby with up to $1.3 million per day in tax penalties aren’t just unconstitutional, they’re unconscionable.  It is simply appalling that any business owner should have to choose between violating their religious convictions and watching their business be strangled by the strong arm of Federal mandates and taxation. I intend to do everything I can to help save Hobby Lobby and protect them from our out-of-control Federal Government.”

House Bill 649 would exempt Hobby Lobby and other religiously-based businesses from all taxes levied by the state if they are forced to pay punitive fines related to the Obamacare contraception mandate.

“When a businesses is being stressed nearly to the point of bankruptcy by punitive Federal taxes, of course the state should give them relief,” added Stickland. “The Obama administration may be willing to kill Hobby Lobby over their mandate and put Hobby Lobby’s employees out on the street, but I’m not willing to let that happen if I can stop it. Exempting them from state taxes is the least we can do to help them weather this storm. I hope other states follow suit and I hope the courts step-up to protect religious liberty and strike down this unconstitutional mandate.”