Thursday, February 11, 2016

West Virginia House approves religious-exemptions bill

(AP) — A West Virginia religious-exemptions bill that opponents say would allow for discrimination has cleared the Republican-led House of Delegates.

Approved by Thursday's 72-26 vote, the proposal would let people cite religious objections to state actions in certain court proceedings. It moves to the Senate.

Proponents say it protects freedoms to express religious beliefs, unless there's a compelling state interest to restrict them.

Opponents say it sanctions discrimination, particularly targeting gay marriage.

Various business interests oppose it, from local chambers of commerce to Charleston's Marriott hotel.

Republican Senate President Bill Cole called it a "tough one."

Reports say Indiana might have lost $60 million when groups opted against conventions in Indianapolis because of a similar law.

Citing Indiana, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said he'd have to consider a veto.