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U.S./World News

Arkansas Senate approves updated religious-objections bill
April 02, 2015 00:46 GMT

By ANDREW DEMILLO Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Arkansas lawmakers have given initial approval to a new version of a religious-objections bill after Gov. Asa Hutchinson asked for changes in the wake of a growing backlash from critics who called the measure anti-gay.

The proposal approved by the Senate on a 26-6 vote Wednesday bars state and local government from infringing on someone's religious beliefs without a compelling interest. A day earlier, lawmakers sent a similar measure to Hutchinson's desk.

Hutchinson had initially said he would sign the bill but then called on lawmakers to change the measure to more closely mirror a 1993 federal law. Unlike the version on Hutchinson's desk, the new proposal only addresses action by government, not individuals or businesses.

The proposal now heads to the House, which was expected to take it up Thursday.

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