MHRN LEGISLATIVE SESSION SUMMARY – WEEK 15
After a long, difficult session with some crushing losses, this week brings some good news! We haven’t won every vote, but several destructive bills have been defeated.
The Montana Legislature’s momentum was slowed a bit this week when in-person floor sessions for Friday were canceled after a private citizen associated with the legislative process tested positive for COVID-19. That delay gives us extra time to speak up!
It’s time to dive in for another round of calls and emails to make sure legislators are clear on what’s best for Montana. We still have a shot at ending the last anti-LGBTQ and OTHER bills.
How to contact your legislators
Find your legislators here.
Email them here.
Call the Capitol switchboard at 406-444-4800 from 7:30am – 5pm on weekdays to leave them a message.
Last chance to say NO to HB 112 – Rights for transgender community members
HB 112, which would ban transgender youth from participating in school sports, was assigned to a Conference Committee, and will have a hearing on Tuesday. We’re not sure what could happen in committee, so let’s go directly to Governor Gianforte and tell him to veto this bill.
Action – Please call Gov. Gianforte’s office at 406-444-3111, email a comment at firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here to use on online email form.
Action item for businesses on HB 112!
This week, the NCAA made a statement warning states that legislation banning transgender student athletes could jeopardize their chance to host championship games. The statement says, “When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected. We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants.”
The students and athletic department staff at the University of Montana held a press conference this week stating that the loss of championship games would not only hurt transgender athletes, but could cost Missoula businesses $7.5 million. Sports writer Jeff Welsch from the Missoulian wrote a scorching column on this topic.
Governor Gianforte and Lieutenant Governor Juras are claiming that they aren’t hearing from businesses that would be impacted by the the loss of championship games due to discriminatory legislation.
We need Montana businesses to call and write the governor to tell him to veto HB 112. When contacting the governor, please give your name, your business’ name, state that you are the owner of the business, and offer a few details about how the loss of Griz or Cat home games would harm your business.
Please call Gov. Gianforte’s office at 406-444-3111 or email a comment at email@example.com or click here .
Support businesses opposing to anti-LGBTQ legislation!
In March, more than 350 businesses and organizations across Montana said no to anti-LGBTQ bills that have been working their way through the legislature! If you’d like to add your business or organization to the list, click here. Lots of people asked us for the list so they know which local businesses they can support!
NO to HB 427 – Ban on medical care for transgender youth
HB 427 would prevent trans youth under 18 from getting gender-affirming surgery. This situation is already heavily restricted, but bill sponsor Rep. John Fuller used the hearing on this bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee to spread misinformation about trans people and justify unnecessary restrictions on surgical care.
Action – This bill has been hanging out in the Senate Judiciary Committee for almost a month. It could have a floor vote in the Senate at any moment, but we’re not sure what the plan is for this bill. Please tell your senators NO.
YES to HJ 32 – Study discrimination in the criminal justice system
HJ 32 would create a study examining discrimination within Montana’s criminal justice system. We know that Indigenous people comprise 8-9% of the state’s population but comprise a much higher rate of incarcerated people. Approximately 37% of women in Montana prisons are Indigenous, and about 20% of incarcerated men are Indigenous.
We need more data on why this is happening and how we can actively reduce bias and discrimination within the criminal justice system.
Action – Please tell the House Judiciary Committee and your representative to vote YES on HJ 32.
NO to SB 214 – Tribal sovereignty
SB 214 is an attempt to revise tax exemptions for private land that is being reclaimed and added to tribal trust lands. A similar bill like this was tabled in committee, and this bill was initially tabled in the House Taxation Committee. Unfortunately, it was revived in the committee and is back in action. Montana’s tribal nations have repeatedly spoken out against this bill and two others like it this session, so we need to take action!
Action – This bill will probably have a floor vote in the House on Monday, so please tell your representative NO on SB 214.
HB 244 – Death penalty, likely defeated
HB 244 would have changed the requirements for drugs used for lethal injections so a broader range of drugs could be used for executions. The bill failed on second reading by a 24-26 vote. There’s a good chance it will not be revived in the last weeks of the legislative session. Thank you for all of the calls and emails you made to defeat this bill!
HB 406 – Voter suppression, likely defeated
HB 406 is the last of the voter suppression laws left in the process. A vote to indefinitely postpone this bill happened on Wednesday, and we are relieved that this attempt to make mail-in ballot collection extremely difficult is finally history. We’re so grateful for everyone who told their legislators to reject this bill!
No to SB 108 – Militia ideology and health boards
SB 108 is another measure to undermine the ability of county health boards to address public-health crises like the current pandemic. It lays out a process whereby community members can overturn public health directives meant to keep our communities safe. Anti-government groups have routinely pushed for this type of situation.
Action – SB 108 passed its third reading in the House and is likely to be approved next week. Please contact Gov. Gianforte and ask him to veto this bill.
SB 100 – Economic justice, likely defeated
SB 100 would have made it more difficult for Montanans to qualify for public assistance programs, leading to low-income folks losing their healthcare or SNAP benefits. It was tabled in the the House Human Services Committee this week, so we are hopeful that this harmful bill is finished.
No to amendments on SB 278 – Protect non-profit organizations
Last-minute amendments to SB 278 would add regulations for non-profit organizations that do not match the federal 501(c)(3) guidelines. The amendments would also tax nonprofits for challenging or supporting a “government action” and force non-profits to make the names of any donor giving more than $50 public.
As drafted, the definition of “government action” could include activity such as lobbying to address or change current law, addressing local ordinances, and interacting with administration around policies or rules that may impact a broad segment of the population.
Action – Ask your senator to say NO to the amendments to SB 278.
No to HB 279 – Attack on public schools
The Religious Right is attacking the basic rights of many Montanans this session. They’ve targeted LGBTQ rights, reproductive choice, and now they’re trying to undermine public schools.
HB 279 is a proposal to increase the Montana Tax Credit Scholarship Program from a tax credit of $150 to an unbelievable $200,000. This bill burdens the state as wealthy folks receive more tax cuts which deplete funds available for our public schools. We know that many religious schools, like the one that Gov. Gianforte helped found in Bozeman, have refused to provide support services for students with special needs. Any measure that moves towards privatization and away from educating ALL students should be rejected.
Action – This bill had a hearing in the Senate Finance and Claims Committee and is waiting for a vote. Please tell this committee and your senator NO on HB 279.
NO to HB 229 – Anti-choice
You all have done amazing work writing about anti-choice bills this session! We have one major victory with the defeat of HB 337, the personhood bill. Details below.
HB 229 would prevent insurance policies obtained through the Affordable Care Act exchange from covering abortion. This bill passed second and third reading in the Senate this week, so please ask Gov. Gianforte to veto it.
HB 337 failed to receive enough votes to place this measure on the ballot! This bill would have attempted to redefine the word “person” and give a fertilized egg constitutional rights in order to ban access to abortion and possibly birth control. Thank you for all of your work to defeat this terrible legislation!
No to SB 182 – Budget and revenue
These bills have one theme in common: lowering taxes for the wealthy and cutting much-needed revenue for important state programs. You can read more here.
SB 182 will trigger more tax cuts to wealthy Montanans based on state revenue levels. This bill will have serious repercussions that could last for years.
Action – This bill passed its second reading in the House and was referred to the House Appropriations Committee. Please tell that committee and your House member NO.
Bills recently passed/tabled
Here’s a recap of bills that passed their floor votes and are headed to the governor’s desk or have been tabled. Our position on each of these bills is indicated with a YES or NO.
HB 35 will establish a missing persons review commission in order to address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people. YES
HB 36 would have established a missing persons response team training grant program to address the missing and murdered Indigenous women and people crisis. This bill was tabled in committee on April 13. YES
HB 98 will extend the Missing Indigenous Persons Task force and the LINC (Looping in Native Communities) grant program. YES
HB 121 would remove power from the nonpartisan public health experts on county health boards and give it to partisan members of county commissions. This bill passed its third reading on Thursday. NO
HB 200 would prohibit sanctuary cities in Montana, even though none currently exist. This bill would fine cities that do not take part in federal immigration issues. NO
HB 223 would compel local law enforcement to play the part of federal immigration agents and could increase racial profiling across Montana. This bill passed its third reading in the Senate. After approval of amendments, this should soon pass to the governor. NO
SB 169 would require photo IDs to register to vote and vote in person. It passed third reading in the House with amendments, and now the Senate has to approve those amendments. NO
SB 170, which required annual voter list maintenance that could lead to voter list purges, passed out of the House and was sent to the governor’s desk. NO
HB 176 will eliminate same-day voter registration and end late voter registration at noon the day before Election Day. It passed third reading in the House on Tuesday. NO
HB 258 would prohibit enforcement of any federal regulations regarding firearms in Montana. This bill passed the Senate and should be on its way to the governor’s desk. NO
SB 99 would prevent access to accurate sex education and ban qualified medical providers from offering sex education. This bill passed third reading on Friday. NO
SB 215 establishes the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which allows any person, corporation or other entity to claim an exemption from any law, policy or government regulation if the action might burden their religious expression. NO
HB 613 is the Montana Native American Voting Rights Act, which would make it easier for Indigenous people to vote. YES
SB 184 cuts certain capital gains taxes, which benefits wealthy investors, not workers. NO
- SB 280 would force transgender people to have surgery and an open court hearing before changing the gender marker on their birth certificates. NO