MHRN LEGISLATIVE SESSION SUMMARY – WEEK 16
It’s the final countdown! Word from the Capitol is that legislators want to wrap up next week, so decisions are being made pretty quickly.
We are so grateful to everyone who has invested time in phone calls and emails to support or reject crucial legislation! We know the flood of bills and talking points has been overwhelming at times, so thanks for keeping up the pressure.
If you only have time to contact legislators on a couple of issues, we recommend urging Gov. Gianforte to veto anti-transgender legislation and telling the House Bill 2 Conference Committee to reject an abortion court. Read on for talking points on those issues.
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 and SB 280 – Protect rights for transgender community members
HB 112 would ban transgender youth from participating in school sports, and SB 280 would force transgender, nonbinary, and Two Spirit people to have surgery and a court hearing to change the gender marker on their birth certificate. HB 112 passed third reading on Friday, but we still have a chance at getting Governor Gianforte to veto these bills.
1. Tell Gov. Gianforte to veto these bills, and if you’re a teacher, coach, athlete, student, or business leader, please tell him that, too.
2. Get on social media to tell friends to veto these bills, and tag Gov. Gianforte in the post. He’s on Facebook and Twitter as @GovGianforte and Instagram as @govgianforte.
You can contact Gov. Gianforte’s office at 406-444-3111, email a comment at email@example.com, or click here to use on online email form.
Talking points on HB 112!
When you send an email or call asking for Gov. Gianforte to veto this bill, here are a few points you can raise.
The NCAA made a statement warning states that legislation banning transgender student athletes could jeopardize their chance to host championship games. Athletic department staff at the University of Montana held a press conference last week stating that the loss of championship games could cost Missoula businesses $7.5 million. Sports writer Jeff Welsch from the Missoulian wrote a scorching column on this topic.
Please call Gov. Gianforte’s office at 406-444-3111 or email a comment at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here .
Support businesses opposing 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, defeated!
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.
Fortunately, Senator Bryce Bennett called for a vote to postpone HB 427 indefinitely, and that vote passed 27-22. Click here to read a letter from the American Medical Association condemning HB 427’s attempt at intruding on the wellbeing of transgender youth in Montana.
YES to HJ 32 – Study discrimination in the criminal justice system, tabled
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. This bill was tabled in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
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 passed the legislature this week.
Action – Please call Gov. Gianforte’s office at 406-444-3111, email a comment at email@example.com, or click here to use on online email form.
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 has passed both legislative chambers. 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.
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. These House 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. The Senate didn’t support the House amendments, and the bill is headed to a conference committee.
Action – Please use this form to ask the members of the conference committee to reject any amendments that seek to penalize non-profit organizations. The committee members are: Senator Hertz, Senator Fitzpatrick, Senator Boland, Rep. Buttrey, Rep. Berglee, and Rep. Farris-Olsen.
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 passed out of Senate Finance and Claims Committee this week. Please tell your senator NO on HB 279.
NO to HB 229 and abortion court – Anti-choice
You all have done amazing work writing about anti-choice bills this session! A few terrible bills passed, but we are thrilled about the victories!
This week an attempt to create an abortion court was defeated and then revived, so we have work to do! This piece of legislation would create a panel which could approve or deny reimbursement for reproductive care. This means rape survivors and people facing heartbreaking circumstances would have to “prove” that their abortion was “justified” in order receive reimbursement for medical care.
Urgent action – Contact the House Bill 2 Conference Committee and tell them this invasion of privacy is cruel, unacceptable! Politicians have no business second guessing the decisions of your health care provider.
HB 229 would prevent insurance policies obtained through the Affordable Care Act exchange from covering abortion.
Action – This bill has passed both legislative chambers, so please ask Gov. Gianforte to veto it.
No to SB 182 – Budget and revenue, tabled
SB 182 would have triggered more tax cuts to wealthy Montanans based on state revenue levels. This bill will have serious repercussions that could last for years. This bill passed its second reading in the House and was tabled in the House Appropriations Committee. It’s possible that this bill could be revived, so we’re keeping an eye on it.
Bills passed or 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. Gov. Gianforte signed this bill. 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