Religious colonies fight attempts to impose labor laws
The Montana Supreme Court did not immediately rule after hearing competing arguments from a Hutterite colony and the state on whether Montana's requirement that employers carry workers' compensation insurance can be expanded to religious organizations.
The Hutterites in rural Montana are fighting state attempts to impose the legislation backed by businesses, which complain they can't outbid the low cost of the communal workers.
A state judge has already ruled the 2009 law expanding the workers' compensation law to force the Hutterites to pay for the insurance violated their right to freely exercise their religion.
The state is asking the high court to reverse that decision, arguing the new law deals only with commercial activities and stays out of the Hutterites religious affairs.
The Hutterites are Protestants similar to the Amish and Mennonites who live a life centered on their religion, but unlike the others, Hutterites live in German-speaking communes scattered across northern U.S. states and Canada.Continue reading at www.startribune.com