Network Releases Legislative Scorecard
Following the 2018 midterm elections, MHRN entered the 2019 Montana Legislature with a sense of uncertainty. Our staff had justspent the previous four months battling big tobacco on the I-185 Campaign that would have continued Montana’s Medicaid expansion. While our campaign put up a noble effort, we could not overcome big tobacco’s resources and lost that fight. Despite that defeat, we were ready to continue our work in the Montana State Capitol to ensure the renewal of Medicaid expansion.
On day one, we entered the building ready to make progressive changes at the statewide level. With the help of our many partner organizations, we did just that. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we brought 50 people to the Capitol to lobby on LGBTQ+ policies. This push included adding sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression as protected classes to the Montana Human Rights Act, the state’s bedrock civil rights law.
We also worked extensively on efforts to continue Medicaid expansion. In a 72-hour span, we sent over 4,000 individual messages to legislators advocating the continuation of the program. Together, we successfully defended the health care of nearly 100,000 Montanans. We also advocated for economic justice and called for fully funding state programs that keep our communities safe and healthy. Without the help of our partners and engaged members, our job during the 2019 legislative session would have been an impossible task.
We recently released our legislative scorecard and report for the 2019 Montana Legislature, which features how lawmakers voted on various human right issues. We scored senators on 11 bills, and representatives on 12. In the Montana Senate, 17 lawmakers received perfect scores of 100%, while 13 scored 0%. On the House side, 36 representatives scored 100%, while no lawmakers received 0%. The scorecard also features more information about the efforts to amend the Montana Human Rights Act and the great work of the Indigenous Organizers Coalition.
Looking towards the future, the 2019 Montana Legislature taught us valuable lessons. We learned that, despite the makeup of the Montana Legislature, together we can achieve victories to protect Montanan’s human rights. We saw the power of personal testimony and lived experience on legislative decisions, and we learned the importance of building diverse coalitions to advocate for inclusive policy. As we come to terms with these lessons, it’s clear that we must continue our resistance. Each day we must work to promote policies that recognize, respect, and fulfill every Montanans’ human rights.