Zinke Signs on to Religious Freedom Bill in the House

Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT) has signed on as a co-sponsor to an important religious freedom bill in the US House of Representatives.

The Hill has more: ‘Religious freedom’ bill picks up momentum in House

Pressure is mounting on House GOP leaders to call a vote this month on a religious-freedom bill banning the federal government from punishing churches, charities or private schools for actions in opposition to same-sex marriage.

Openly-gay Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) told The Hill he hadn’t yet studied the text of the legislation but suggested it could win broad support from the LGBT community, which has benefited from religious liberties in the past.

“There’s certainly room for clarification that no faith would ever be forced to perform or sanctify marriages that they don’t agree with, just as the Catholic faith isn’t required to marry people who have been divorced,” Polis said. “It’s up to every religion who they want to marry and some have been marrying same-sex couples for decades; others will never marry same-sex couples.

(Zinke not mentioned in Hill piece, but I confirmed with his spokesperson Heather Swift that he is a co-sponsor)

ADDED NOTE AT 3:30 on 7/13/15

Speaking of Zinke…looks like he set The Billings Gazette editorial board straight, after the coal-country newspaper decided to take a shot at one of the major industries in their region: Zinke defends measure to block coal rule

On Wednesday, I introduced legislation that would stop the Department of the Interior (DOI) from enacting another cumbersome rule that would change the way coal is valued when mined from public land. The end result would be increased uncertainty for an industry that is constantly battling this administration’s war on fossil fuels. There has been a lot of misinformation about this issue and I wanted to set the record straight because Montana coal workers and the Crow deserve a fighting chance.

Currently coal is valued (for royalty purposes) when it’s sold, however the new rule would value it based on when it’s turned into electricity. This could not only cause long gaps but also create huge levels of uncertainty because utility rates fluctuate so much. This may seem like a small change in the process, but it would have huge repercussions in Montana, especially counties supported by mines like Big Horn, Yellowstone and Musselshell, as well as the Crow Nation. By blocking this new rule from going into effect, the amendment will prevent uncertainty from taking over the market, which would lead to fewer jobs and less revenue for local governments who collect royalties.

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