The Yankee Institute for Public Policy, particularly Zachary Janowski, amazed me big time with their (his) interpretation on Raised House Bill 5460. I understand their being Conservative. Even though I am a Liberal, I claim to understand the Conservatives at least on fiscal issues, probably because I am fiscally conservative, and I have expressed that in several articles in my blog so far.
What Zachary Janowski says H.B. 5460 does is that it “prevents employers from talking about religious or political topics with their employees,” which Mr. Janowski determines to be “the two forms of speech most protected by the First Amendment.” Zachary Janowski also quoted Hans Bader from the Competitive Enterprise Institute – another conservative think tank – as saying that the bill “singles out political and religious speech,” thus violating their free speech rights.
All that would be nice if it was correct, except it is grossly inaccurate. Raised H.B. 5460 actually generally prohibits employers from requiring (or as the statement of purpose of the bill says – coercing) their employees to attend employer-sponsored meetings whose purpose is to communicate the employer’s opinion on religious and political matters.
In other words, if A is the employer, and B are the employees, A – who, for the sake of argument, is a Sunni Muslim and very political – cannot require anyone from B – some of whom, for the same sake of argument, are atheists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Shiite Muslims, non-religious Sunni Muslims, apolitical – from attending a meeting whose purpose is to communicate political or religious agenda.
That sounds like a protection of the employees from the employers imposition of religious and political views to me. It also sounds like promoting the employees’ freedom from the employer’s tyranny. What happened to the conservative value of personal freedom that Conservatives claim to be much in favor? Apparently it counts when the government imposes regulations on businesses and individuals but it doesn’t count when the employer imposes regulations on their employees, especially when it is about religion and politics.
I can understand the employer being released from as many tax burdens as possible, but I can also understand the employee being free to do whatever they want to with their free time, instead of having to comply with, according to at least some members of the B group, some lunatic’s political or religious views because they might be punished. Just because the employer pays their employees salaries doesn’t entitles that employer to force them to attend a religious or political meeting.
In my opinion, that’s bad journalism. Zachary Janowski’s points are not in point. Nothing in this bill prohibits employers from generally sponsoring such meetings. It is just that they cannot require attendance from their employees. What do you think?