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New Waiver Exempts Wisconsin Amish From Some Building Code Requirements

Families Have Faced Fines And Eviction For Refusing To Install Smoke Detectors

B Garret (CC-BY)

Amish families building homes in Wisconsin now have a way to avoid installing smoke detectors and modern plumbing without breaking the law.

A provision in the state budget lets Amish families sign a waiver exempting them from parts of the Uniform Dwelling Code they say conflicts with their religious beliefs. The waivers went to counties across the state this week.

In Eau Claire County, six Amish families have faced eviction and more than $40,000 in fines for non-compliance. David Mortimer, a member of the National Committee for Amish Religious Freedom, said the change is a win for First Amendment rights.

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“This means that the threat of fines, the threat of court-ordered eviction from their homes, the risk of arrest, all of that goes away because of this form,” Mortimer said, adding that Wisconsin’s waiver could be used as a model in other states having building code conflicts with Amish families.