Alerts & Actions
MHRN 2023 LEGISLATIVE SUMMARY, WEEK 8
We’re hustling to keep up with the tidal wave of bills that are being funneled through the legislature before the transmittal deadline on Friday, March 3.
What’s transmittal? Transmittal happens when a bill has been approved in one chamber and moves to the other. In other words, it’s when a bill moves from the House to the Senate or vice versa. Most bills that aren’t approved by the transmittal deadline are considered dead.
Legislators are working long hours in the next few days to get bills through hearings and floor votes, so their bills move forward to the other chamber. If it feels like there’s a lot going on, that’s because there is! Thanks for doing your best to keep up and take action during this critical and chaotic time!
Top action items!
Tell members of the Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Safety Committee to vote NO on SB 458! This terrifying bill defines a person’s sex by their reproductive capacity and is a direct attack on transgender, nonbinary, and Two Spirit Montanans.
Defend democracy and Montana’s judicial branch! Tell your Senator to vote NO on SJ 11 and SB 302! These two bills threaten checks and balances, undermine the power of the courts, and introduce partisan politics into our independent judiciary.
KEEP READING FOR ACTION ITEMS ON LGBTQ RIGHTS, PROTECTING DEMOCRACY, 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 will 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.
Legislators and supporters of these bills have used hearings and floor discussions to spread misinformation about LGBTQ+ community members, but we have hope. Many of these bills are unconstitutional and will be challenged immediately in the courts. Members of the LGBTQ+ community, PLEASE take care of yourselves and connect with people who love you.
No on SB 458 – Tell the Public Health, Welfare, and Safety Committee to vote no on this bill. SB 458 has a hearing at 3 pm on Monday.
SB 458 is sponsored by Sen. Carl Glimm (R-Kila) and is 61 pages long. It attempts to legislate transgender, nonbinary, and Two Spirit people out of existence and defines people based on their reproductive capacity. This is another situation where legislators without medical expertise are attempting to interfere in the private medical decisions of Montanans. This is a dangerous and unacceptable bill that carries sweeping consequences for all Montanans.
No on SB 337 – Tell the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote no on this bill.
This bill is another example of government overreach. While SB 337 codifies some current practices into law, it’s clear that it conflicts with some privacy for students built into in the U.S. and Montana Constitutions. The anti-LGBTQ+ group, Alliance Defending Freedom, which is categorized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, spoke in favor of this bill, which makes it clear that this is an anti-public school bill. Representatives from the pro-censorship group Moms for Liberty of Yellowstone County also spoke in favor of this bill. About 90% of Montana students attend public schools, and this bill would harm those schools and make it harder to recruit teachers.
Say NO to HB 359 – HB 359 passed the House this week and will make its way to the Senate. We will let you know when it has a hearing in a committee there. Tell your Senator to vote NO because this bill is unconstitutional.
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. Please note that we do not expect that this bill will ever become law, but it is crucial to make public comments against this misleading, harmful bill.
Updates on HB 303, HB 234, HB 361, and SB 99 – All of these Slate of Hate bills passed the first chamber and are waiting to be assigned to a committee. We will let you know when that happens so you can testify or send in comments.
HB 303 is a medical “conscience” bill that would allow healthcare providers and institutions to deny healthcare to patients for any reason without consequences.
HB 361 would allow students to deadname and misgender other students without consequences.
HB 234 would make distributing “obscene” materials to minors a misdemeanor. This bill opens the door to frivolous lawsuits and censorship.
SB 99 is a ban on gender-affirming care for Montana youth.
Say NO to HB 726 – This bill will have a hearing in the House Energy, Technology, and Federal Relations Committee on Monday at 3pm. Please tell the committee to vote no.
HB 726 would remove water compacts from the authority of the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and place them under the authority of the Public Service Commission. This is another attempt to undermine the authority of sovereign Indigenous nations to manage water rights that have only recently been restored. Several Montana legislators have been involved with attempts to overturn water compacts in the past, so it is unlikely that this legislation would benefit Tribal nations.
Say YES to HB 338 – This bill passed through the House and is waiting for a committee assignment in the Senate. Please tell your Senator to vote yes.
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 – HB 317 was approved by the House Human Services Committee and should have a floor vote in the House soon. Please tell your Representative to vote yes.
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.
Here’s more information on threats to ICWA on the national level and in Montana.
Update on SB 233 – SB 233 would have enhanced legislative understanding of state-tribal relations, but it was tabled in the Senate Legislative Administration Committee.
MHRN is seeing outrageous attacks on voting rights, free and fair elections, independent courts, and individual rights in the 2023 Montana Legislative Session. Here are the bills we’re fighting this week.
Victory on HB 464 – This bill failed on the floor on Friday! We’re hearing that there may be an attempt to revive it, so please tell your Representative to vote no.
HB 464 would destroy the nonpartisan aspect of Montana’s independent judiciary, allowing judges to declare a partisan affiliation and accept partisan endorsements. We need justices to give their loyalty to the law, not partisan agendas.
Say NO on SB 302 – Tell your Senator to vote no on this bill.
SB 302 would require partisan elections for judges, which would obligate justices to make decisions based on political party preferences instead of their best legal analysis. This bill reinforces the mistaken idea that every person in public service has a specific partisan affiliation. Bills like this create division and suspicion in our communities instead of upholding the values of fairness and justice.
Say YES on HB 563 – Tell the House Judiciary Committee to support this bill.
HB 563 would help keep communities safe from the unaccountable armed groups that have a history of showing up in Montana communities. Militia groups have no legitimate training and are not associated with actual law enforcement entities, but they often try to act as if they are authorized to patrol communities and question people on behalf of local police or sheriff’s departments. HB 563 makes it clear that these extra-legal groups do not have authority in Montana.
Say NO to HB 589 – Please tell the House Judiciary Committee to table this bill.
HB 589 would allow average citizens to convene a grand jury. This decidedly non-standard idea has its roots in the extreme anti-government movements from the 1960s who wished to harass and intimidate their perceived enemies. There is no reason for this bill because our current grand jury system is working effectively. This bill is very dangerous because it would allow a very small number of people to target anyone they disagreed with.
Say NO on HB 604 – Tell the House Judiciary Committee to vote no on this bill.
HB 604 is an attempt to turn the militia ideology of “constitutional sheriffs” into Montana code. This bill would give county sheriffs permission to pick and choose which laws to enforce, and they could stop federal agencies from enforcing federal law, a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. This would hinder important investigations, create confusion, and prevent best law enforcement practices from being utilized. There’s no reason to endorse this abuse of authority.
Say NO to SJ 11 – This had a hearing in Senate Judiciary Committee and should have a floor vote soon. Please tell your Senator to vote no.
SJ 11 is a deeply concerning bill. It seeks to give the legislature the authority to determine the law, not the Supreme Court. This is a direct attack on the validity of the court system, our independent judicial branch, and the constitutionally prescribed separation of powers. If passed, SJ 11 would undermine checks and balances, and give the legislature undue authority.
Update on SB 311 – This bill failed on the floor on Friday on a very close vote. We are relieved!
SB 311 would have reduced the number of associate judges on the Supreme Court from 6 to 5, which would create more delays in the courts for the average person. There’s no advantage to this change, and there were no supporters of this bill during the hearing.
Say NO to SB 302 – This bill was approved by the Senate State Administration Committee and heads to the Senate floor. Tell them to vote no.
SB 302 would allow candidates for a non-partisan race to indicate a political party affiliation on a declaration for nomination and to have that appear on the ballot. This law would apply to all non-partisan elections, not just judicial races. This would erode an independent judiciary and flood judicial races with partisan endorsements and funding.
Multiple anti-choice bills are coming through the legislative process right now, and we are doing our best to keep up. Please help protect full reproductive healthcare in Montana and send a message to legislators about these bills.
YES on SB 437 – Please tell the Senate Health, Welfare, and Safety Committee to vote yes on this bill.
SB 437 establishes the right to reproductive care, including abortion care in Montana. It also repeals a number of restrictions around accessing accurate sex education and private reproductive healthcare , no matter what location, income level, or situation pregnant people may have.
No on HB 720 – This bill had a hearing in the House Human Services Committee. Please tell them to vote no.
HB 720 defines life in such broad terms that it could be used to force people to carry a fetus to term even if it had severe complications that were incompatible with life.
No on HB 721 – This bill will have a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Monday, February 27. Please tell them to vote no.
HB 721, sponsored by Rep. Matt Regier (R-Kalispell), would ban abortions after 12 weeks, which is well before the time that medical professionals know whether there are major fetal health problems that are incompatible with life. We know that limiting options for medical care leads to negative, and sometimes severe, consequences for families.
Yes to HB 432 – HB 432 would have codified the Armstrong decision into Montana code, but it was tabled by the House Judiciary Committee.
Say YES to SB 315 – SB 315 This bill would have helped make sure Montana sex education would align with national standards, but it was tabled in the Senate Education and Cultural Resources Committee.
NO on HB 448 – Victory! This anti-union bill was tabled in committee!