Senators stall bill prohibiting emergency rules on churches

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Tony Spell, pastor of the Life Tabernacle Church, leaves East Baton Rouge Parish jail after posting bond in Baton Rouge, La., Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Louisiana authorities arrested the pastor on an assault charge on Tuesday after he admitted that he drove his church bus toward a man who has been protesting his decision to hold mass gatherings in defiance of public health orders during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — State senators have narrowly shelved a proposal to keep Louisiana’s emergency orders from governing churches.

A Senate judiciary committee voted 3-2 Wednesday to kill the House-backed bill by Republican Rep. Danny McCormick.

It would have prohibited government agencies or officials from being able to fine, penalize or prosecute anyone who attends or conducts a church service during a publicly declared emergency. The measure sought to apply its provisions to any actions pending when the bill became law.

The move was aimed at disrupting the prosecution of Baton Rouge area minister Tony Spell for violating Gov. John Bel Edwards’ prior ban on large gatherings.

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