A. It is the intent of the General Assembly, in accordance with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, P.L. 104-193, to authorize public bodies to enter into contracts with faith-based organizations for the purposes described in this section on the same basis as any other nongovernmental source without impairing the religious character of such organization, and without diminishing the religious freedom of the beneficiaries of assistance provided under this section.
B. For the purposes of this section, “faith-based organization” means a religious organization that is or applies to be a contractor to provide goods or services for programs funded by the block grant provided pursuant to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, P.L. 104-193.
C. Public bodies, in procuring goods or services, or in making disbursements pursuant to this section, shall not (i) discriminate against a faith-based organization on the basis of the organization’s religious character or (ii) impose conditions that (a) restrict the religious character of the faith-based organization, except as provided in subsection F, or (b) impair, diminish, or discourage the exercise of religious freedom by the recipients of such goods, services, or disbursements.
D. Public bodies shall ensure that all invitations to bid, requests for proposals, contracts, and purchase orders prominently display a nondiscrimination statement indicating that the public body does not discriminate against faith-based organizations.
E. A faith-based organization contracting with a public body (i) shall not discriminate against any recipient of goods, services, or disbursements made pursuant to a contract authorized by this section on the basis of the recipient’s religion, religious belief, refusal to participate in a religious practice, or on the basis of race, age, color, gender or national origin and (ii) shall be subject to the same rules as other organizations that contract with public bodies to account for the use of the funds provided; however, if the faith-based organization segregates public funds into separate accounts, only the accounts and programs funded with public funds shall be subject to audit by the public body. Nothing in clause (ii) shall be construed to supersede or otherwise override any other applicable state law.
F. Consistent with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, P.L. 104-193, funds provided for expenditure pursuant to contracts with public bodies shall not be spent for religious worship, instruction, or proselytizing; however, this prohibition shall not apply to expenditures pursuant to contracts, if any, for the services of chaplains.
G. Nothing in this section shall be construed as barring or prohibiting a faith-based organization from any opportunity to make a bid or proposal or contract on the grounds that the faith-based organization has exercised the right, as expressed in 42 U.S.C. (§ 2000 e-1 et seq.), to employ persons of a particular religion.
H. If an individual, who applies for or receives goods, services, or disbursements provided pursuant to a contract between a public body and a faith-based organization, objects to the religious character of the faith-based organization from which the individual receives or would receive the goods, services, or disbursements, the public body shall offer the individual, within a reasonable period of time after the date of his objection, access to equivalent goods, services, or disbursements from an alternative provider.The public body shall provide to each individual who applies for or receives goods, services, or disbursements provided pursuant to a contract between a public body and a faith-based organization a notice in bold face type that states: “Neither the public body’s selection of a charitable or faith-based provider of services nor the expenditure of funds under this contract is an endorsement of the provider’s charitable or religious character, practices, or expression. No provider of services may discriminate against you on the basis of religion, a religious belief, or your refusal to actively participate in a religious practice. If you object to a particular provider because of its religious character, you may request assignment to a different provider. If you believe that your rights have been violated, please discuss the complaint with your provider or notify the appropriate person as indicated in this form.”
2001, c. 774, § 11-35.1; 2005, c. 928.