Alerts & Actions
MHRN 2023 Legislative Summary, Week 1
Today ends the first week of the 2023 Montana Legislative Session, and we would like to take a moment to remember how precious our democracy is. Two years ago, extremists attacked the U.S. Capitol and tried to overthrow free and fair elections using violence. Click here to read MHRN’s reflections on this day and our efforts to support communities so that violent extremism, militia groups, and anti-government ideology don’t gain a foothold in Montana.
Please keep reading for action alerts on LGBTQ+ rights and Indigenous sovereignty!
Legislative updates – keep it simple!
Since the session just started, we don’t have too many updates for you. It’s a good time to make sure you have all of the information you need to contact legislators.
In 2021, we had great participation from allies and supporters! This year, we know we can score some big wins if a few more people commit to sending 2 to 3 emails a week on the top 2 to 3 bills they care about most. To help you do this, keep an eye out for our updates, so you have the confidence to participate all session long.
How to contact your legislators
We’re very lucky to have many legislators who are responsive to their constituents. Please feel free to reach out as often as you like to give them your perspective on bills. It’s easy to contact them by phone or email. Here are a few tips!
Look up your legislators here.
Call the very friendly Capitol operators at (406) 444-4800. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and you can leave messages for up to 5 individual legislators or 1 legislative committee per call.
Send an email using contact information from the legislative roster or using the online email form.
Use our online action forms! When possible, we will provide an easy-to-use online form via a link to help you send a message on specific bills and actions.
Engage and participate
MHRN is working hard to ensure that people from every crossroad in Montana have the information they need to participate in the 2023 Montana Legislative Session. You can also stay involved by testifying in person or on Zoom, or listening live to hearings and floor sessions. Whether you’re from Billings, Havre, Libby, the Blackfeet Nation, or Butte, you can raise your voice and take an active part in our democracy!
Here are the bills and issues MHRN is prioritizing this year:
Protecting democracy & dismantling extremism
Say NO to the Slate of Hate
There are several anti-LGBTQ+ bill drafts that we’re watching closely this year. All are attempts to spread misinformation from anti-LGBTQ+ national groups in order to legislate LGBTQ people out of existence, deny access to critical services, and encourage bullying, harassment and discrimination.
These bill drafts are designed to restrict access to healthcare, deny people the right to live as their authentic selves, and take away the freedom of expression. As we saw during the 2021 Legislative Session, anti-LGBTQ+ bills are an attempt to inject misinformation and confusion about LGBTQ+ rights into mainstream news, social media, and daily discourse.
When bills fit the Slate of Hate category, we’ll let you know and tell you how you can speak out against them!
We’re very encouraged by the conversations we’re having with legislators about the realities of being transgender and nonbinary people in Montana. We’re happy to see these big wins so early in the session!
Say NO to SB 99
In 2021, Senator (then Representative) John Fuller (R–Kalispell) sponsored two bills that would have cut off access to essential healthcare for transgender, nonbinary, and Two Spirit youth. Montanans said no to this kind of government interference, and both bills failed.
SB 99 is even more extreme. This bill:
Interferes with Montanans’ right to make private medical decisions with trusted healthcare professionals
Ignores reputable research and practices recommended by major medical professional organizations
Restricts school officials from using the name and pronouns that a student has chosen
Suggests harsh penalties for health care providers who offer gender-affirming care
SB 99 action– This bill will have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee soon. Click here to say no to SB 99.
Office of Public Instruction speaker makes anti-transgender comments
Even before legislators were sworn in on the first day of the 2023 Legislative Session, Office of Public Instruction (OPI) Superintendent Elsie Arntzen hosted an event at the Capitol that featured several speakers who made negative comments about public schools. One made misleading comments about transgender students.
MHRN is concerned that OPI may testify in favor of Slate of Hate bills based on inaccurate information and the extremist ideology of “parental rights,” which has been used to justify physical abuse and the withholding of educational opportunities for children. We’ll let you know when to take action.
NO to LC 1964
We are watching several bill drafts that would undermine the rights of Indigenous people in Montana. None have been scheduled for a hearing, but a draft joint resolution was filed by Senator Keith Regier (R – Kalispell) which calls for an investigation to end to the Indigenous reservation system based on hostile and unsubstantiated statements about Indigenous people, their lives, and treaty rights, which have been violated by state and federal governments for generations.
Read more about the American Indian Caucus’ response to this proposal and Senator Shane Morigeau’s (D – Missoula) plan to expand the Indian Education for All requirement for state legislators. “This is why it’s so important to have basic civics in Montana,” said Morigeau. “If people actually understood history in Montana, they’d see that the reason they have these lands and have wealth today is from taking Indian land. They used treaties to gain wealth, and yet we still get people who feel they still don’t have enough. They always want more. It’s greed and entitlement.”
LC 1964 action – Click here to send a message to Senator Regier, Senator Jason Ellsworth (President of the Senate), and Senator Steve Fitzpatrick (GOP Senate Majority Leader).
YES to HB 18
HB 18 would establish a missing persons response team training program and grant fund so search and rescue teams around the state could improve their skills to quickly locate people who have been reported missing. This could be especially helpful in addressing the crisis of missing and murdered and Indigenous people in Montana, since there are four times as many Indigenous people as non-Indigenous people on Montana’s missing person’s list.
This bill passed the House Judiciary Committee unanimously.
HB 18 action – Tell your House member to vote yes on this bill. Look up your legislators here.