Alerts & Actions
MHRN 2023 LEGISLATIVE SUMMARY, WEEK 9
It’s transmittal break, which means we all get to take a quick breather before the rest of the 2023 Montana Legislative Session.
What’s transmittal? Glad you asked! Transmittal is the halfway point of the Montana Legislative Session, when bills approved by one chamber of the Legislature are transmitted (passed over) to the other chamber. With a few exceptions, bills that aren’t approved by the transmittal deadline (March 3) are dead. Legislators are getting a few days off before they make final decisions on the bills that made it this far. The second half of the session is when the state budget will become a major focus for lawmakers.
Most bills are now waiting for a hearing in the opposite chamber from where they started, so we’re giving you a break from the typical calls to action. During this pause, we’d like you to write a letter to the editor about an issue you care about. Legislators take notice when constituents make their position clear in public spaces.
Below you’ll find a quick update on the bills that are still in play and talking points on key issues. Remember, you don’t have to be an expert! It’s easy to tell your legislators that you support LGBTQ+ rights, better training to help locate missing Indigenous people, or privacy for medical decisions.
Click here to find your legislators and click here to send them a message. Short messages are completely fine!
Here’s a list of local media outlets where you can send a letter to the editor. Remember that most newspapers ask that letters are shorter than 300 words.
KEEP READING FOR UPDATES ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES WE FOLLOW!
Priorities for the Legislative Session
If you’re wondering why legislators are wasting time on drag show bans, censoring books, and constitutional amendments, you’re not alone! A recent poll of 600 Montanans showed that:
63% oppose amending the state’s Constitution, with 45% strongly opposed. The majority of people in both parties oppose changes to the Montana Constitution.
60% said that abortion should be legal in all or many circumstances, and 75% opposed an amendment that would change the right to medical privacy and abortion under the privacy clause in the Montana Constitution.
57% of those polled agreed with a statement that said the budget surplus should be used for affordable housing, targeted tax relief for homeowners and renters, and investments in child care, mental health and public education. Only 36% said that it should be used to provide tax cuts and to pay down the state’s debt.
For decades, extremists have used harmful rhetoric to attack LGBTQ+ people and build their own power at the expense of others. We will not let extreme politicians drag us backward. Many of the anti-LGBTQ+ bills are examples of copycat legislation introduced in other states. No one in Montana is asking for this. Instead, it is part of a well-funded and aggressively anti-LGBTQ political agenda.
Drag bans, as well as book bans and healthcare bans, are part of an ongoing effort by certain politicians to marginalize transgender people and the LGBTQ+ community. Let’s be clear, bans on drag performances and attempts to prevent gender diverse people from getting accurate identity documents are designed to target transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer people and force them out of public life.
Discrimination against people for who they are, who they love, or what clothes they wear is unacceptable. Denying people healthcare, the right to choose their name, the chance to get married, the opportunity to play sports, is unconstitutional and malicious. This does not belong in Montana.
These bills are being aggressively pushed into Montana by national anti-LGBTQ+ organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom, not from actual local problems.
Bills still active in the Slate of Hate:
SB 99 – ban on healthcare for transgender and nonbinary youth
HB 234 – attempt to classify books as “obscene” and punish school librarians for having them in school libraries
HB 303 – allow medical providers and institutions to discriminate against patients without consequences
HB 359 – ban on drag shows
HB 361 – free pass for bullies to deadname and misgender fellow students
SB 458 – a 61-page bill that attempts to erase the existence of transgender, nonbinary and Two Spirit people, eliminate marriage equality, force trans and nonbinary people to misgender themselves on identity documents, and much more.
Indigenous people have been violently removed from their families, communities, and cultures for generations. The Montana Indian Child Welfare Act ( HB 317 ) and the Indian language preservation bill (HB 287) are crucial for maintaining vital connections to family and knowledge for Indigenous people.
The missing and murdered Indigenous people crisis needs to be taken seriously by law enforcement entities. HB 18 will establish more training and a grant fund, and HB 163 extends the MMIP task force until 2025.
Montana needs to provide honest and accurate accounts of history. SJ 6 recognizes the terrible history of Indian boarding schools in Montana, and the Indian Education for All Act ( HB 338 ) ensures that the requirements to teach public school students about the past and present of sovereign Tribal nations.
Attacks on our independent judiciary and the Montana Constitution harm the foundation of our freedom and liberty. Bills like SJ 11 attack crucial checks and balances and give legislators undue power and influence.
We have the right to access information under the First Amendment. SB 222 would severely limit access to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) trainings for state employees. DEI trainings help everyone learn about the harmful impacts of discrimination, unconscious bias, intergenerational trauma, and chapters of our history that have been erased.
There is still plenty of legislation in play to restrict voting rights and attack fair elections. These will continue to be prominent issues during the second part of the legislative session.
Montanans have the right to make private medical decisions with their trusted healthcare providers and access healthcare without government interference.
Since the Dobbs decision from the Supreme Court, national anti-choice organizations are promoting a range of terrible bills that are full of misinformation about pregnancy and abortion care.
These bills erase the existence of pregnant people and deny that difficult decisions must be made when pregnancy emergencies and abuse happen.
Legislators who object to abortion have the right to do that for themselves, but they do not have the right to force their personal opinions on others. This is especially true when those opinions are based on conspiracy theories, not actual medical practices.
Anti-choice bills still active:
HB 213 – attempts to establish fetal personhood
HB 625 – a repeat of LR-131, which was soundly defeated by Montana voters
HB 575 – a forced birth bill which does not allow for abortion in the case of rape or incest and attempts to make providing an abortion a felony charge
HB 721 – sensationalizes and attempts to ban abortion procedures that are needed in emergency situations
HB 786 – creates unnecessary bureaucracy and government interference related to medication abortion
We’ll be taking a bit of a break during transmittal too, but please reach out to us at email@example.com if you have questions!