MHRN Legislative Session Summary – week 2
The second week of the 2021 legislative session is done! Here are MHRN’s updates on legislation we follow and action items you can take.
This weekend, you can write to support some important legislation that addresses the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and people, help stop harmful legislation targeting transgender youth, and support your local board of health.
It’s easy to contact your legislators about these issues!
CALL (406) 444-4800 to leave a message for your legislator. Switchboard hours are 7:30am-5pm, Monday through Friday and during Saturday sessions.
Here are the most pressing issues for next week!
NO on House Bill 112 and House Bill 113
Hearings on these bills are scheduled for 8 am on Monday! Please contact the House Judiciary Committee and your legislators to tell them to vote NO on HB 112 and HB 113. Montana Free Press did an excellent article highlighting the need to defeat these bills.
Want to do more?
MHRN is hosting a phone bank to prevent HB 112 and HB 113 from becoming law. We will be calling Montana citizens and encouraging them to talk to their legislators to vote NO on HB112 and HB113. The phone bank will take place Wednesday, January 20th, from 3PM -5PM. Click this link to sign up!
If you are unable to make calls next week, feel free to sign up for another time at this link by clicking “sign up to make calls.”
Why HB 112 is harmful
This bill would prevent transgender and nonbinary youth from participating in school sports under the guise of protecting women’s sports. Full text here
Excludes trans women, two-spirit, and non-binary youth from team sports
Allows cisgender athletes to sue the school if transgender athletes participate
Could open the door for invasive physical checks for all student athletes
Applies to athletes in elementary school through the collegiate level
If legislators want to effectively support women’s sports, they should increase funding women’s sports instead of singling out transgender youth.
Why HB 113 is harmful
This bill would prevent transgender youth from receiving medically necessary and affirming health care, which would be devastating. Full text here.
Youth would be prevented from receiving necessary care
Health care professionals would be fined for providing the standard of care for youth
Legislators would be determining health care access, not physicians
Studies show that when transgender youth are able to access medically appropriate medical care, suicidality drops by 70%
NO on SB 67, HB 144, HB 121, and HB 145
There are four bills we need to reject in order to keep militia ideology from creeping into Montana law.
Please tell your legislators to vote NO on SB 67, HB 144, HB 121, and HB 145. (Click on the bill numbers for full bill text.)
MHRN opposes these bills because they follow strategy that gives more authority to county elected officials, who may be more easily influenced by militia and so-called “Patriot” group supporters.
Why these bills are harmful
SB 67 and HB 144
These bills will lend a sense of legitimacy to militia ideas about sheriff supremacy, which posits that sheriffs can decide which laws they want to enforce.
Militia activists like Ammon Bundy and his People’s Rights group have been trying to recruit sheriffs to their cause during the pandemic by encouraging them to refuse to enforce public health measures to slow the spread of COVID.
Gary Marbut of the MSSA has made repeated attempts to get Montana sheriffs to endorse this anti-government notion that sheriffs can decide which laws they enforce. Militias like the Oath Keepers constantly try to recruit sheriffs with the same idea.
HB 121 and HB 145
As we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, we need nonpartisan public health professionals who follow evidence-based science making the decisions that keep people safe.
Both of these bills weaken the authority of county health boards and officers by allowing them to only make recommendations for public-health measures. Instead, county commissions would be given final approval. These bills take these decisions away from people with specialized knowledge and expertise and leave it up to politicians. This will only further politicize decisions around public health.
Anti-government groups have routinely pushed for exactly this type of shift to give more power to the county commission, which they view as the highest legitimate level of government. These two bills would help prop up their notion of county supremacy.
Action items for SB 67, HB 144, HB 121, and HB 145
SB 67 passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, so it’s time to call your Senator and tell them to vote NO.
HB 144 is very similar to SB 67 and was heard yesterday, but no action was taken. Please contact House Judiciary this weekend, because they will probably act early next week. Tell this committee and your representative to vote NO.
HB 121, the County Commission bill, was heard by House Local Government Committee on Friday. Contact House Local Government Committee and your representative and tell them to vote NO.
HB 145 has a hearing scheduled for January 19 in the House Local Government Committee. It is similar to HB 121, so the talking points are very similar. Please tell the House Local Government Committee to vote NO on HB 145.
Click here to send an email to these committees or your legislators.
YES on SB 4, HB 35, and HB 36
Western Native Voice is asking for support on these bills to help end the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people in Montana.
SB 4 (click for the bill’s full text) will extend the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Task Force in Montana. This task force helps law enforcement take steps towards solving many of the MMIP cases in Montana. By asking Senators to vote yes on SB 4, we can help make Montana communities safer for Indigenous people and everyone.
This bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 10-1, so now it goes to the Senate floor. Contact your senator and tell them to support SB 4.
HB 35 and HB 36 also support MMIP efforts, and they have hearings scheduled in the House Judiciary Committee next week. HB 35 will establish a missing persons review, and HB 36 will create a missing persons response team training grant program. Please contact the House Judiciary Committee by Wednesday, January 21, and tell them to vote YES on these two bills.
NO on HB 102
We knew it was going to be tough to defeat HB 102, which would remove the requirement for Montana’s current concealed carry permit process, eliminate important gun safety training, and force colleges to allow guns on campus. Unfortunately, it passed the house and now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it will probably have a hearing next week. Please contact the Senate Judiciary Committee and your senator and tell them NO on HB 102.
NO on SB 100
This legislation would make it more difficult for Montanans to qualify for public assistance programs. These programs and services are essential to maintaining healthy communities and families in Montana, and making them more difficult to access would cause undue harm to low-income Montanans already struggling amidst a global pandemic.
Call your senator and the Senate Public Health Welfare and Safety Committee and say NO to SB 100.
NO on HB 136, HB 140, HB 167, HB 171
These bills are aggressive attacks on women’s ability to access reproductive care. All had hearings in the House Judiciary Committee this week.
House Bill 136 would ban abortions at 20 weeks, regardless of the health of the pregnant person or fetus, and criminalize doctors who provide them. It would also potentially endanger those who seek abortions by letting courts decide whether or not to keep their names private.
House Bill 140 would require that healthcare providers record whether or not a patient chose to view an ultrasound or listen to a fetal heartbeat. This bill claims to provide women with more information but ultimately seeks to shame and dissuade them from exercising their constitutional right to abortion.
House Bill 167 would, as a referendum, put patients’ health and privacy up to a vote with the ultimate goal of banning abortion altogether. This bill inflammatory language to drive a false narrative and stigmatize abortion in Montana.
House Bill 171 would keep Montanans from accessing medication abortion, delaying access to health care, and creating barriers to care — especially for those in rural areas.
Call your representative and the House Judiciary Committee today and tell them NO on HB 136, HB 140, HB 167, HB 171.