The Texas Senate moved forward with the “Save Chick-fil-A” bill on Monday following a quick public hearing after the House killed a companion proposal last week that would ban the government from taking an “adverse action” on individuals or businesses based on their religious beliefs.
Senate Bill 1978, authored by Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, was proposed on March 7 but moved forward Monday when Hughes presented it during a meeting with the Senate Committee on State Affairs at the last minute. The Senate waived a rule that required a 24-hour notice on a bill for a public hearing, the Statesman reported.
"The bill as filed ensures religious beliefs are protected from discrimination. It's about the First Amendment and freedom of speech, freedom of religion — those uniquely American rights," Hughes said during the hearing, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The Senate Committee on State Affairs then convened and, moments later, approved the measure to the full Senate, which could reportedly vote on the bill as early as Wednesday.
"We've heard disturbing stories about folks being punished just because they choose to contribute to a religious organization that shares their views or values," Hughes said.
The Senate bill was the companion proposed legislation to House Bill 3172, filed by Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, which prevents a governmental entity from penalizing people or a group “based wholly or partly on the person’s membership in, affiliation with, or contribution, donation, or other support provided to a religious organization.”
The House bill was filed in response to the San Antonio City Council’s vote that barred the fast food chain from opening a location in the San Antonio airport in March. The city council voted to block the chain as an airport vendor due to the company’s “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.” The council also struck down a motion to reconsider the decision.
Opponents of the bill argued it will give people and businesses the power to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. Supporters said it will prevent another incident that Chick-fil-A had to endure.
The house bill, soon dubbed the “Save Chick-fil-A” bill, was effectively killed last week when Rep. Julie Johnson, D-Carrollton, used the parliamentary maneuver called “point of order” to remove it from the debate calendar, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Senate Bill 1978 currently states the government would not penalize those based on their “religious belief or moral conviction, including beliefs or convictions regarding marriage.” Hughes said he plans to amend the proposal to mirror the killed House bill, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
The House will have until May 21 to pass the bill before it makes it to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.