MHRN 2023 Legislative Summary, Week 2
The second week of the 2023 Montana Legislative Session is over! Bills are just starting to roll in, so keep reading to find out what you can do to support LGBTQ+ rights and reproductive rights. Here are the top issues for MHRN for the session:
Protecting democracy & dismantling extremism
Write or call 2-3 times each week!
As the session ramps up, there will be a lot more bills and action items coming your way. We know that we can score some big wins if a few more people commit to sending 2 to 3 emails a week on the 2 to 3 bills they care about most. Our updates will help make this simple and manageable, so stay tuned!
You can also get 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!
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.
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.
Say NO to the Slate of Hate
There are several anti-LGBTQ+ bill drafts that we’re watching closely this year. National LGBTQ+ groups are using these bills to spread misinformation and legislate LGBTQ people out of existence, deny access to critical services, and encourage bullying, harassment and discrimination.
We’re calling these bills the Slate of Hate because they’re designed to incite fear, restrict access to healthcare, deny people the right to live as their authentic selves, and take away the freedom of expression. Here are the Slate of Hate bills of the week.
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. If you sent a message about this bill last week, feel free to send another one. Click here to say no to SB 99.
We’re celebrating victories this week!
HB 18, which would establish a missing persons response team training program and grant fund, passed unanimously in the House! This bill will help search and rescue teams have a quicker response to missing persons reports, and we’re hoping this will help address Montana’s missing and murdered Indigenous people crisis. We’ll let you know when HB 18 is scheduled for a hearing with a Senate committee.
LC 1964 appears to be dead! This is a draft joint resolution written by former businessman and Tea Party activist Mark Agather and sponsored by Senator Keith Regier (R–Kalispell) was a blatant attack on Indigenous sovereignty. Both Regier and Agather vocally opposed the Flathead Water Compact by disparaging treaty rights and Tribal sovereignty when the Compact was being negotiated and moving through the legislative process. After receiving backlash from Indigenous groups and nations plus non-Native residents, Regier stated that he would not pursue this draft resolution.
Your emails and calls made a difference! We’ll keep an eye on this and let you know if anything changes.
YES to HB 163
HB 163 will extend the Montana Department of Justice’s Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force through 2025. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in House Judiciary on Wednesday, January 18.
Action on HB 163 – Please contact the House Judiciary committee members and tell them to support the bill.
NO on HB 213
HB 213, sponsored by Rep. Braxton Mitchell (R-Columbia Falls), appears to require that a certificate of nonviable birth must be filed in addition to the fetal death certificate for any miscarriage in Montana. Similar laws in Florida and Iowa do not force parents to fill out this form.
HB 213 is very vague. As written, it could create more trauma and invade the privacy of people who are already coping with pregnancy loss.
Action on HB 213 – This bill has a hearing in House Judiciary at 8 am on Monday, January 16. Please tell the House Judiciary Committee to vote no on this bill.
NO on SB 154
SB 154 would chip away at the personal right to privacy by excluding abortion care. This defies the Montana Constitution and the Armstong decision, which specifically protects the right to abortion in our state.
Action on SB 154 – Please tell the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject this unconstitutional bill and protect all aspects of privacy in Montana.