LOORBOOK MEMO House Committee on the Judiciary
Com. Sub. For H.B. 4135
Prepared by: Amber Epling
(January 20, 2014) Phone: 304.340.3256
SPONSORS: Delegates P. Smith, Perry, Pino, Walker, Young, Lynch, Hamilton, Hartman and Kinsey
TITLE: Relating to designating the first Thursday in May the West Virginia Day of Prayer
DATE INTRODUCED: January 14, 2014
CODE SECTIONS AFFECTED: W.Va. Code §2-2-1a (Amend)
IDENTICAL/SIMILAR BILLS: None
CHAIRMAN’S SUMMARY: This bill designates the first Thursday in May to be the West Virginia Day of Prayer, which directly coincides with the National Day of Prayer.
I. SUBSTANTIVE ANALYSIS
A. EXISTING LAW: The existing law recognizes six special memorial days: Native American Indian Heritage Week, Susan B. Anthony Day, Pearl Harbor and Military Appreciation Week, Vietnam Veteran Recognition Day, Purple Heart Recognition Day and Korean War Recognition Day
B. THIS BILL:.This bill would increase the existing list of special memorial days by adding a new subsection for the West Virginia Day of Prayer to be observed annually on the first Thursday in May. The date of West Virginia’s Day of Prayer would directly coincide with the National Day of Prayer, 36 U.S.C. §119. The purpose of this day is to allow people of West Virginia an opportunity to turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals. Like the other special memorial days mentioned in §2-2-1a, the Governor must issue an annual proclamation.
A. CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES: In 2011, the constitutionality of the National Day of Prayer was upheld in Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Obama, 641 F. 3d 803. The plaintiff challenged the statute violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution which prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” A U.S. District Judge found the statute to be unconstitutional as it is “an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function.” However, a three judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overturned that decision.
B. GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AFFECTED: All government agencies affected
C. COMMITTEE REFERENCE: Judiciary
D. TITLE ANALYSIS: The title appears to be within constitutional parameters.
E. DRAFTING ISSUES OR OTHER COMMENTS: None.
F. EFFECTIVE DATE: 90 days from passage.