MHRN LEGISLATIVE SESSION SUMMARY – WEEK 3
There was lots of action this week in the legislative session, so if you’re having trouble keeping up, we understand!
Please do what you can! Remember that an email that is 2-3 sentences long is enough to let your legislators know why you support or oppose a bill. If you’re an expert on a certain issue, then a longer email is a good strategy.
Please note that we try to list these issues in order of when hearings or votes will be taken. Some action will happen early next week, so please take a few minutes this weekend to write about these issues.
Please keep in mind that schedules do change at the last minute, and we’ll try to let you know about that on our Facebook page.
Here’s an overview of this action items for this week.
NO on HB 112 and 113, anti-transgender legislation
YES on SB 4, HB 35, HB 36, and HB 98, which support MMIW efforts
NO on HB 102, which would remove permit requirements for concealed carry and allow guns on college campuses
NO on SB 100, which would make it harder for people to apply for public assistance
NO on HB 136, HB 140, HB 167, HB 171, anti-choice legislation
NO on HB 176, which would repeal Montana’s same-day voting registration
- NO on SB 67, HB 144, HB 121, HB 145, and SB 108, which remove authority from county health boards
How to contact your legislators
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 – Anti-trans bills
Hearings on these bills happened this week, and both are headed for a vote in the House early next week. Amendments to HB 113 were introduced on Friday morning which did not change the intent of the bill, which is to prevent trans youth in Montana from receiving health care and punish physicians providing health care to trans youth.
As bill supporters continue to push this harmful legislation along with misinformation about transgender people, opposition to the bills is growing. This article outlines the organizations who are in support of transgender youths’ right to participate in school sports and get the medical care they need.
YES on SB 4, HB 35, HB 36, and HB 98 – MMIW/P support
These four bills will help Montana push back against the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and people. These bills are gaining traction and support thanks to the ongoing work of many Indigenous organizers, including Western Native Voice, who shared this information with us.
SB 4 will extend the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Task Force in Montana. It passed the Senate and goes onto the House. Please contact your House member and the House Judiciary Committee to tell them YES on SB 4.
HB 35 will establish a missing persons review, and HB 36 will create a missing persons response team training grant program. These were heard by the House Judiciary Committee this week. Tell your House member to vote YES on HB 35 and HB 36.
HB 98 would extend the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force at the Montana Department of Justice but with an extension of the program’s current grant funding. Tell your House member to vote YES on HB 98.
NO on HB 102 – Concealed carry & guns on college campuses
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, continues to have strong support in the legislature.
Senate Judiciary is set to vote on the bill early next week, so contact them over the weekend and tell them No on HB 102. Also contact your senator and tell them to vote No if the bill reaches the Senate floor.
NO on SB 100 – Access to public assistance
SB 100 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. Making them more difficult to access would cause undue harm to low-income Montanans already struggling amidst a global pandemic. Thanks to Montana Women Vote for their information on this issue!
Why this bill is harmful
The Department of Health and Human Services already has multiple forms of eligibility verification in place. Duplicating those systems is neither cost-effective nor efficient.
This bill would primarily serve to remove people from support programs because of technicalities, not because of fraud.
Implementing this level of verification and information-sharing between agencies will be burdensome, costly, and difficult.
Contact your senator and the Senate Public Health Welfare and Safety Committee and say NO to SB 100.
NO on HB 176 – Repealing same-day voter registration
Legislators are trying to repeal Montana’s very successful same-day voting registration law, which would prevent many young and Indigenous voters from casting a ballot. Same-day Election Day voter registration would be eliminated under HB 176, and late voter registration would close at 5 pm on the Friday before Election Day.
Contact the House State Administration Committee and your House member and say NO to HB 176.
NO on HB 136, HB 140, HB 167, HB 171 – Anti-choice bills
These bills are aggressive attacks on women’s ability to access reproductive care. All had hearings in House Judiciary this week, and the committee passed all of them to the House floor. Thanks to Montana Women Vote and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana for the following information.
HB 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.
HB 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.
HB 167 would, as a referendum, put patients’ health and privacy up to a vote with the ultimate goal of banning abortion altogether. This bill’s inflammatory language is meant to drive a false narrative and stigmatize abortion in Montana.
HB 171 would keep Montanans from accessing medication abortion, delaying access to health care, and creating barriers to care — especially for those in rural areas.
Please contact your representative and tell them NO on HB 136, HB 140, HB 167, HB 171.
NO on SB 67, HB 144, HB 121, HB 145, and SB 108 – Undermining county health boards
These bills reflect the creeping influence of militia ideology into Montana law. 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.
See below to find out which committees or legislators you need to contact for each bill. Please tell your legislators to vote NO on SB 67, HB 144, HB 121, HB 145, and SB 108. (Click on the bill numbers for full bill text.)
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.
We can tell that militia and so-called “Patriot” group supporters have been communicating with lawmakers. During executive action this week, one member of the House Judiciary Committee mentioned receiving many messages in support of the bill that claimed sheriffs should have the right to select which laws they do and don’t support.
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, HB 145, SB 108
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. SB 108 is a new bill, but it is out of the same mold as the other bills that are designed to take authority from health boards and give it to county commissioners.
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 bills would help prop up their notion of county supremacy.
Action items for SB 67, HB 144, HB 121, HB 145, and SB 108
SB 67 will likely pass the Senate this week. Contact House Judiciary Committee, where the bill is likely headed next, and tell them to vote No.
HB 144, which is very similar to SB 67, passed out of House Judiciary this week and is headed to the House floor. Contact your representative and tell them to vote No on HB 144.
HB 121 is still being considered by the House Local Government Committee. Please contact your Representative and tell them to vote No if it makes it to the House floor.
SB 108 was heard by the Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Safety Committee this week. Please contact your senator and tell them NO on SB 108.
Click here to send an email to these committees or your legislators.