Vote on controversial religious freedom bill delayed

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KTVI) - The controversial legislation known as Missouri SJR 39 took unexpected turn Wednesday night.  The House Emerging Issues Committee delayed an expected vote until next week.

The committee chairman said members wanted more time to review the legislation.

“We received several legal memorandums on certain portions of the bill, whether or not they’re constitutional,” State Rep. Elijah Haar.  The committee chairman and his members received both documents and rebuttal documents.  Haar said, “It’s very weighty stuff.”

State Rep. Bob Burns, (D) Affton, blasted the decision to delay the vote.

“I think it’s terribly inadequate,” said Burns.  “I think it’s terrible to do this to the people who have been waiting so long for this hearing to happen, and my question is who are they going to pick to hate next?”

Critics of SJR 39 say it discriminates against the LGBT community.  Supporters of the legislation say it protects people with religious beliefs opposed to same sex marriage.

The most controversial piece of the legislation allows wedding vendors to deny services to same sex couples.   You can read the entire legislation here.

State Rep. Haar said it’s possible his committee could vote Monday.  If approved, one more committee would need to approve the legislation before the full House votes.  If the legislation is approved, the measure would be put on a statewide ballot where Missouri voters would have the ultimate say.

Several large businesses have already voiced opposition to the legislation.  They feel it would be difficult to recruit the best possible employees to Missouri, if the measure passes.

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