Alerts & Actions
MHRN 2023 LEGISLATIVE SUMMARY, WEEK 6
What a turnout against the Slate of Hate this week! There were at least six anti-LGBTQ+ bills that had hearings or votes last week, and LGBTQ+ allies turned out in force! Thank you for making the time to send messages or travel to hearings last week.
Some of our favorite moments were seeing drag performers testify against the drag ban (HB 359) and having legislators speak against the ban on healthcare for trans youth (SB 99). These bills are still active, so please keep reading to find out how you can tell your legislators – again – that hate doesn’t belong in Montana, but transgender, nonbinary, and Two Spirit people do!
Top action items!
Tell the House Judiciary Committee NO on HB 359 (drag show ban) and YES on HB 432, which would protect the right to abortion under the Armstrong decision
Tell the Senate Education and Cultural Resources Committee to vote yes on HB 141, which would establish Indigenous People’s Day in Montana
KEEP READING FOR ACTION ITEMS ON LGBTQ RIGHTS, INDIGENOUS SOVEREIGNTY AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS!
Write or call 2-3 times each week!
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!
How to contact your legislators
It’s easy to contact them by phone or email, so don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts with them.
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. The email form is especially helpful when you’re emailing an entire committee.
- Click here to sign up to testify via Zoom, even if you live hundreds of miles from Helena. You must register by 5 pm on the day before a hearing.
Use our online action forms! If we have one active, it’ll be linked here
Say NO to the Slate of Hate
We’re calling anti-LGBTQ+ 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.
Week 6 brought us floor action on bills that would limit access to queer books and stories (HB 234), ban gendering affirming care for trans youth (SB99), and allow healthcare providers to refuse service to LGBTQ folks on the basis of “conscience” (HB 303). We had hearings on bad bills like HB 359 that would prohibit minors from attending drag shows and a horrifying bill that would allow students to deadname, misgender and bully their transgender peers (HB361). Here’s how you can take action.
Say NO to HB 359 – Tell the House Judiciary Committee to reject HB 359, a ban on drag events. They will vote on this bill soon.
This anti-drag bill is a huge attack on freedom of expression and parental rights. HB 359 bans anyone under 18 from attending drag events, including drag story hours and drag bingo events, which are very popular. Businesses hosting drag events would be falsely labeled as “sexually oriented,” like strip clubs. Supporters of HB 359 used the hearing to amplify harmful rhetoric and ugly, false stereotypes about LGBTQ+ people. It was fantastic to see drag queens and so many LGBTQ+ allies at the hearing.
Say NO to HB 361 – Tell your Representative to reject HB 361, which would neutralize public schools’ anti-bullying policies. This bill was approved by the House Judiciary committee last week with a 13-9 vote.
HB 361 would allow any student to deadname and misgender another student without consequences. The bill claims that this kind of harassment and intimidation would not be considered discrimination, leaving transgender, nonbinary, and Two Spirit students open to even more bullying than they already receive at school.
Update on HB 303 – HB 303 passed the house last week, and we’ll let you know when it is assigned to a committee in the Senate.
This so-called medical “conscience” bill sponsored by Rep. Amy Regier (R-Kalispell) would allow any health care provider to refuse service to any person for any reason without consequences. We are deeply concerned that this will will be used to deny healthcare to transgender, nonbinary, and Two Spirit people. This could be deeply harmful in rural areas where health care providers are limited.
Update on HB 234 – HB 234 passed the house, and we will let you know when it is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate.
HB 234 claims to protect minors from “obscene” materials but actually infringes on the right to access information. We are very concerned about how this bill could remove the authority of local school boards, the First Amendment rights of students, and parental rights. HB 234 is unnecessary, misleading, and is specifically targeting a book with LGBTQ+ themes.
Update on SB 99 – SB 99 had a tense discussion on the Senate floor last week. We are very grateful to all of the legislators who spoke up and rejected the misinformation about transgender healthcare that Senator Fuller and other legislators are trying to pass off as fact. If you want accurate information about healthcare in Montana for transgender, nonbinary, and Two Spirit people, please read MHRN’s guide on this topic.
Say YES on SB 141 – Please tell the Senate Education and Cultural Resources Committee to support SB 141. It had a very successful hearing, (no opponents!), and now we’re waiting for the committee’s vote.
SB 141 would establish Indigenous People’s Day as a legal state holiday on the second Monday of October. Changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day will allow us to recognize and celebrate Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of Montana. Read more about Indigenous Peoples’ Day here.
Say YES to HB 338 – This bill recently had a hearing, so please contact the House Education Committee and ask them to support the bill.
HB 338 would improve the quality of Indian Education for All by enacting stricter reporting guidelines. Indian Education for All is enshrined in the Montana Constitution, and has been systematically under resourced for years. IEFA is a major point of pride for Montana’s Indigenous peoples and an important component of public education.
Say YES on HB 317– Please tell the House Human Services committee to support HB 317. They will be voting on it very soon.
For far too long, state and federal legislation has allowed the violent removal of Indigenous children from their living, loving families and communities. Montana still needs to reckon with its participation in Indian boarding schools and other forced separations that have caused intergenerational trauma and lasting harm. Indigenous people and child welfare professionals testified very strongly in favor of this bill.
MHRN supports HB 317 for many reasons, including coordinated attacks by extremist groups on Indigenous sovereignty. More information here.
MHRN is seeing outrageous attacks on voting rights, free and fair elections, and individual rights in the 2023 Montana Legislative Session. Here are the bills we’re fighting this week.
Update on SB 200 – This bill was tabled in committee, which is excellent news!
SB 200 would have allowed candidates for nonpartisan races to declare a partisan affiliation and to have that affiliation appear on the ballot. As written, this includes judicial candidates and candidates for other nonpartisan offices, including school boards. Creating partisan offices in judicial races is an attack on the American concept of the independent judiciary. Judges and community members should be elected based on their qualifications and not their party affiliation.
Say NO to SB 222 – The Senate State Administration Committee passed this bill. Please contact your Senator and ask them to vote no on SB222.
SB 222 would establish the Montana Individual Freedom Act, which would severely limit access to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) trainings for state employees and contractors. DEI trainings help everyone learn about the harmful impacts of discrimination, unconscious bias, intergenerational trauma, and chapters of our history that have been erased. This legislation falls in line with national organizations’ efforts to attack anti-racism efforts. The only supporter of this bill was the bill sponsor, Sen. Jeremy Trebas (R-Great Falls), and there were several opponents.
Yes to HB 432 – This bill has a hearing scheduled in the House Judiciary Committee at 8 am on Tuesday, February 14. Click here to register to testify or send your testimony to the committee.
HB 432, sponsored by Rep. Laurie Bishop (D – Livingston) and supported by more than 35 cosponsors would codify the Armstrong decision, which specifically protects the right to abortion in our state. Abortion care needs specific protections because SB 154 is attempting to destroy the right to abortion protected by Armstrong.
NO on SB 121 – This bill was approved by the Senate Finance and Claims Committee. It will have a floor vote soon, so please contact your Senator and tell them to vote against this bill.
According to the Montana Budget and Policy Center, SB 121 revises income tax laws in a way that cuts income taxes for the richest Montanans and is expected to cost nearly $180 million each year once fully phased in. Evidence has shown that the ultimate cost of cutting income taxes is not offset by new economic growth. When combined with other bills like HB 222, HB 221, HB 212, HB 189, HB 192, and HB 225, it will create revenue losses of almost $1 billion. That’s $1 billion that won’t be available to fund needed public services.
Update on HB 216 – We are relieved to report that this union-busting bill was tabled in committee early last week!