MHRN 2023 Legislative Summary, Week 3
We’re 14 days into the 2023 Legislative Session, and the fights for essential rights and freedoms are heating up! Your calls and emails matter! On Friday, we learned that Governor Gianforte has requested a whopping $2.6 million in taxpayer funding to fight lawsuits filed against bills that Christian nationalists and extremists are working to pass this session.
Bills that infringe on basic rights and freedoms, and the lawsuits undertaken to overturn them, are a waste of taxpayer funds. If we can encourage enough moderates to vote against unconstitutional bills like SB 154 and SB 99 (see below), we can not only protect essential rights but also avoid expensive lawsuits.
KEEP READING FOR ACTION ITEMS ON LGBTQ RIGHTS, INDIGENOUS SOVEREIGNTY AND REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOMS!
Here are the issues for MHRN for the session:
Protecting democracy & dismantling extremism
Write or call 2-3 times each week!
Thanks for responding to our calls for action! 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! If you are interested in testifying on a bill, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help make that happen.
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 anti-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 HB 234
Please take a few moments to tell the House Judiciary Committee to reject HB 234, which claims to prevent public libraries, public museums, and libraries in public schools from distributing “obscene” materials to minors.
This bill is unnecessary and misleading. Museums and libraries in public schools and our communities have trained, professional staff who use time-tested procedures for choosing age-appropriate materials for patrons. While some people have voiced personal objections to certain books, these challenges incited by national attack groups have overwhelmingly failed, and no books have been banned from libraries in public schools or public libraries in Montana. Click here to read more.
Action on HB 234 – Tell the House Judiciary Committee and your representative to vote no. The House Judiciary Committee will likely vote on this bill early next 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. This, however, hasn’t discouraged Fuller from trying again.
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.
HB 18 will establish a missing persons response team training program and grant fund that will help search and rescue teams have a quicker response to missing persons reports. The hope is it will help address Montana’s missing and murdered Indigenous people crisis.
Action on HB 18 – Senate Judiciary heard the bill earlier this week. Please contact committee members and tell them to support the bill.
HB 163 will extend the Montana Department of Justice’s Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force through 2025. House Judiciary approved the bill this week, so it’s headed to the House floor. This is a great time for every Representative to hear about the importance of passing this bill!
Action on HB 163 – Please contact your Representative in the House and tell them to support the bill.
SB 119 will provide tax exemptions for tribal members who own fee land and are in the process of converting that land to trust. The bill is an important step in affirming tribal sovereignty and help tribes and their members address the ravages of past federal policies like the Dawes Act. Click here to find out more about this bill.
Action on SB 119 – Senate Taxation approved the bill this week. Please contact your Senator and tell them to support the bill.
NO on HB 213
HB 213, sponsored by Rep. Braxton Mitchell (R-Columbia Falls), required that a certificate of nonviable birth 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. This bill infringes on the privacy of pregnant people and expecting parents.
During the bill’s hearing, Mitchell said he was open to amendments that would allow this certificate to be “commemorative” and not required. Even if amended, this bill creates additional burdens for healthcare providers and opportunities for privacy infringement.
Action on HB 213 – The House Judiciary Committee will likely vote on this bill early next week. Please tell them to vote no.
NO on SB 154
SB 154 would chip away at the personal right to privacy by excluding abortion care from constitutional protections. This defies the Montana Constitution and the Armstrong decision, which specifically protects the right to abortion in our state. This bill had a very contentious hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee and passed to the Senate floor with a 7-4 vote.
Action on SB 154 – Please tell your Senator to reject this unconstitutional bill and protect all aspects of privacy in Montana.
HB 230 provides for continuous eligibility for young children enrolled in the Healthy Montana Kids Plan. The House and Human Services Committee heard the bill earlier this week.
Action for HB 230 – Please contact committee members and tell them to support the bill.
SB 140 is written to make union organizing more difficult in healthcare settings.
Action on SB 140 – It had a hearing in the Senate Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs Committee on Friday, so please tell the committee members to vote no.
HB 216 is a union-busting bill that contains a lot of unnecessary language stating that public employees are not required to be part of a union. The language implies that union membership is coerced, and the restrictions these two bills enact represent government overreach and an assault on the freedom of speech. This is dangerous misinformation that should not be codified into public law. Public and private sector workers like nurses, educators, police, and state troopers who protect, serve, educate, and care for Montana citizens deserve to have the freedom to organize without burdensome restrictions.
Action on SB 216 – This bill will have an upcoming vote in the House State Administration Committee, so please tell that committee to vote no.
We’re proud to stand with our allied union members to fight these attempts to limit their rights. It’s important to remember that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights lists forming and joining unions as a fundamental human right.