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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Rep. Jason Smith's Capitol Report: Protecting Religious Freedoms

  • Our state government is set up with a series of checks and balances to ensure that your individual rights are preserved and protected.
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  • Our state government is set up with a series of checks and balances to ensure that your individual rights are preserved and protected. This manifests itself in three co-equal branches of government, the legislative, executive and judiciary, with each branch checking the power of the others. Last week the Missouri General Assembly met for our annual veto session to consider overriding legislation that the Governor vetoed.
    It is the governor’s prerogative to approve or veto the legislation we pass. If a bill is vetoed, we have the opportunity to give final approval to a bill over the objections of the Governor. This is not a role I take lightly. But sometimes, an issue is important enough for us to overturn the Governor’s decision. There has only been thirteen vetoes occur throughout Missouri’s history. And of those thirteen vetoes, two have occurred through our current sitting governor. SB 749 is one such bill.
    In 2010, Congress passed and the president signed Obamacare into law, and, last June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the widely unpopular law. The court’s decision has amplified the state’s role in protecting our fundamental freedoms. Now more than ever, it is important for us to fight for liberty. SB749 is designed to protect Missourians from the overreaching of government infringement on our religious freedoms.
    It specifically addresses the sections of the law that erode the bedrock of religious freedom that built our great nation. Through Obamacare, the federal government is forcing our churches and religious institutions to compromise the beliefs they hold sacred by requiring them to provide coverage for services that violate their moral conscience.
    SB 749 upholds our religious liberty by preventing you from being compelled to buy insurance policies that include coverage for abortions, contraceptives or sterilizations when it would violate your moral or religious beliefs. The bill also protects your God-given rights by prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating against families who want to purchase policies that are consistent with their religious beliefs.
    When the Governor vetoed SB 749, he said it doesn’t add anything new to state law. This is simply not the case. In fact, this bill adds several important provisions to the law. First, the bill allows workers to exclude coverage for services like abortion when it is included in their company plan. Here in the Missouri House, we don’t believe that anyone should be forced to pay for services they find morally objectionable.
    SB 749 also requires health insurers to offer policies that exclude coverage for abortions and contraception. This requirement ensures that the coverage you want is available to you. It is one more way to ensure health care coverage without violating your religious freedom.
    Lastly, the bill ensures that you know in advance whether or not a proposed health plan will cover abortion or contraceptives. By requiring notification, you will be able to make an informed decision about the health care coverage you buy.
    Page 2 of 2 - I understand that your freedom of religion is important to you, and I will always work to preserve your fundamental liberties and moral values. Overriding the Governor’s veto was neither easy nor something I took lightly, but protecting your moral values and personal liberty is something I will always fight to preserve.

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