Conspiracy Fest Names Enemies, Alludes to Civil War  

 

“We’ve gone to war before,” Hamilton’s Trish Roberts told a reporter for Lee Newspapers at the Red Pill Festival. “I don’t fear a civil war, but I feel it’s a very real possibility.” 

 

It wasn’t surprising to hear a Red Pill attendee make such a statement. Instead, it confirmed that Roberts absorbed the messages she heard from the speakers’ podium during the 10-hour conspiracy fest held in St. Regis on Saturday, July 24, 2021. Somewhere between 150-200 people and vendors came to the event, which featured right-wing extremist speakers from Montana, Idaho, and Washington.  Attendees came from the same states, with many Montana license plates originating from the Bitterroot and Flathead Valleys.  

 

Red Pill participants heard the COVID pandemic was a hoax, that the federal government is illegitimate, and that various provocateurs (socialists, communists, Democrats, etc.) are destroying the country. While references to civil war were couched as a last resort, it was clear that revolution was on the table. Montana state Rep. Derek Skees (R-Kalispell), acting as the event’s emcee, repeatedly reminded the crowd that speakers weren’t trying to incite violence. His sarcastic delivery, however, brought to mind the Shakespearian quote that Skees and attendees “doth protest too much.” Skees also repeatedly ridiculed specific mainstream media reporters in attendance. 

 

The level of animosity and the “us versus them” mentality built throughout the day. The early speakers discussed how their conservative Christian beliefs called them to public service. By the end of the event, speakers were claiming states could overrule the federal government and replace it with what they view as a God-ordained republic of sovereign states. The speakers combined many tenets of the anti-government movement with Christian Nationalism. It’s no wonder that Trish Roberts and other attendees left with the idea that a war with their perceived enemies in God’s name was imminent.  

 

Despite the extremist nature of the event, Republicans were more than happy to attend. In addition to Skees, the lineup of speakers included Montana state Senators Theresa Manzella (R-Hamilton) and Bob Brown (R-Thompson Falls); Idaho state Rep. Heather Scott (R-Blanchard); and former Montana state Rep. Rick Jore (R-Ronan). Republican groups and central committees from Mineral, Missoula, and Ravalli Counties had booths at the event. The GOP presence and participation demonstrates what MHRN refers to as “margins to the mainstream,” the process by which extremist ideas end up making their way into regular political discourse. Having these elected officials on the program helped legitimize and normalize the fearmongering and conspiracies promoted at the Red Pill Festival.  

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The 2021 Montana Legislative Session was one of the most complicated and contentious in anyone’s memory. At every turn, GOP legislators made the everyday decisions more difficult, from COVID-19 prevention to basic rights for Indigenous and LGBTQ Montanans. 

All of us at the Montana Human Rights Network want to take a moment to thank the legislators who served with civility, integrity, and compassion during this difficult time. We are also grateful for everyone who called, emailed or texted their legislators, even when it seemed that our voices were being ignored. 

The GOP seemed determined to push through every horrible bill that had been rejected in the past decade, but we still had some significant wins. This article has a good summary of the entire session. Please read on for our overview of the victories we are proud of during this overwhelming session. keep reading
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It’s the final countdown! Word from the Capitol is that legislators want to wrap up next week, so decisions are being made pretty quickly. 

We are so grateful to everyone who has invested time in phone calls and emails to support or reject crucial legislation! We know the flood of bills and talking points has been overwhelming at times, so thanks for keeping up the pressure. 

If you only have time to contact legislators on a couple of issues, we recommend urging Gov. Gianforte to veto anti-transgender legislation and telling the House Bill 2 Conference Committee to reject an abortion court. Read on for talking points on those issues. 


How to contact your legislators

  • Find your legislators here.

  • Email them here.

  • Call the Capitol switchboard at 406-444-4800 from 7:30am – 5pm on weekdays to leave them a message.

Last chance to say NO to HB 112 and SB 280 – Protect rights for transgender community members

HB 112 would ban transgender youth from participating in school sports, and SB 280 would force transgender, nonbinary, and Two Spirit people to have surgery and a court hearing to change the gender marker on their birth certificate. HB 112 passed third reading on Friday, but we still have a chance at getting Governor Gianforte to veto these bills. 

Actions 
1. Tell Gov. Gianforte to veto these bills, and if you’re a teacher, coach, athlete, student, or business leader, please tell him that, too. 
2.
Get on social media to tell friends to veto these bills, and tag Gov. Gianforte in the post. He’s on Facebook and Twitter as @GovGianforte and Instagram as @govgianforte. 

You can contact Gov. Gianforte’s office at 406-444-3111, email a comment at governor@mt.gov, or click here to use on online email form. 

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After a long, difficult session with some crushing losses, this week brings some good news! We haven’t won every vote, but several destructive bills have been defeated.

The Montana Legislature’s momentum was slowed a bit this week when in-person floor sessions for Friday were canceled after a private citizen associated with the legislative process tested positive for COVID-19. That delay gives us extra time to speak up!

It’s time to dive in for another round of calls and emails to make sure legislators are clear on what’s best for Montana. We still have a shot at ending the last anti-LGBTQ and OTHER bills. 


How to contact your legislators

  • Find your legislators here.

  • Email them here.

  • Call the Capitol switchboard at 406-444-4800 from 7:30am – 5pm on weekdays to leave them a message.

Last chance to say NO to HB 112 – Rights for transgender community members

HB 112, which would ban transgender youth from participating in school sports, was assigned to a Conference Committee, and will have a hearing on Tuesday. We’re not sure what could happen in committee, so let’s go directly to  Governor Gianforte and tell him to veto this bill. 

Action – Please call Gov. Gianforte’s office at 406-444-3111, email a comment at governor@mt.gov, or click here to use on online email form.

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The flood of hearings is slowing to a more manageable pace this week, but there’s still plenty of issues to watch. Thank you to everyone who is keeping up and sending messages each week. It’s important to keep moving even when things are rough. 

Yes, this session has been rough. The legislators are feeling it, too. If you’re fortunate to have a legislator who supports the same issues that you do, please take a few minutes to thank them for their service. Gratitude goes a long way during uncertain times.


How to contact your legislators

  • Find your legislators here.

  • Email them here.

  • Call the Capitol switchboard at 406-444-4800 from 7:30am – 5pm on weekdays to leave them a message.

Last chance to say NO to HB 112 and SB 280 – Rights for transgender community members

HB 112 went through its third reading in the Senate and is waiting for approval of amendments in the House. This bill, which would ban transgender youth — specifically transgender girls — from playing school sports, had an amendment added which would make the bill “void on the date that the office for civil rights of the United States department of education [sic] issues a letter of impending enforcement action due to the enforcement of [this act].”

Action – Please tell your representative YES on the amendment, which will have a vote on Monday afternoon. We are hoping that the Department of Education acts quickly after this bill is enacted. 
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This week in the Montana Legislature was rough, with the rejection of the Indigenous Voting Rights Act, HB 613, and the passage of Montana’s version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, SB 215

There were a couple of bright spots in the week, so please keep up the emails and phone calls. It’s important that we keep moving forward and letting our legislators know that it’s okay for Montanans to have diverse opinions on important issues.

The legislators are on break for a few days, but there are more bills on economic justice, LGBTQ issues, and reproductive rights that we can speak to. Let’s use our freedom of speech to speak up for safety, equity, and justice for everyone!

How to contact your legislators

  • Find your legislators here.

  • Email them here.

  • Call the Capitol switchboard at 406-444-4800 from 7:30am – 5pm on weekdays to leave them a message.

Thank you to businesses and organizations opposing anti-LGBTQ legislation!

Last week, more than 300 businesses and organizations across Montana said no to anti-LGBTQ bills that have been working their way through the legislature! Big national corporations like American Airlines and small businesses like Tree Hugger Soap Company in Dillon are signed onto a statement that tells legislators how anti-LGBTQ legislation is bad for businesses and even worse for the lives of their valued employees. 

Please check out the list to see which businesses are invested in a more diverse and equitable Montana. If you’d like to add your business or organization to the list, click here

NO to SB 280 and HB 427, YES to the amendment on HB 112 

To all LGBTQ and especially transgender, nonbinary and Two Spirit community members, we want to send you a lot of love. You have been courageous during this legislative session. We see you, we see what’s happening, and we are going to keep fighting for your rights.

Discussion on the floor vote for HB 112 in the Senate and SB 215 in the House were awful, as expected. Senator Matt Regier opened his statement with a quote from Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, and legislators repeatedly ignored testimony from LGBTQ legislators and Montanans about how this bill would impact their lives.  

These bills are part of a coordinated effort across the country to normalize anti-LGBTQ and anti-trans legislation. It’s crucial that we keep sending legislators the message that everyone has the right to feel safe in Montana.
 
HB 112 – This bill would prevent transgender and nonbinary youth from participating in school sports. Health care professionals have testified that participation in sports gives trans youth more confidence, better mental and physical health, and affirmation that they are valued members of their school. 

Action – HB 112 was approved by the Senate 29-21. However, an amendment nullifying the bill if the US Department of Education gives Montana consequences for violating Title IX on the basis sex discrimination has to be approved by the House. Please contact your House member and say YES to the amendment for HB 112.

HB 427 would prevent trans youth under 18 from getting gender-affirming surgery. This situation is already heavily restricted, but bill sponsor Rep. John Fuller used the hearing on this bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee to spread misinformation about trans people and justify unnecessary restrictions on surgical care. 

Action – This bill could have a floor vote in the Senate soon. Please tell your senators NO. 

SB 280 would force transgender people to have surgery and get a court order before changing the gender marker on their birth certificate.

Action – This passed out of the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 12-7 and should be scheduled for a floor hearing soon. Please tell your representative NO on SB 280. 

SB 99 would prevent access to accurate sex education and ban qualified medical providers from offering sex education. This bill could possibly classify any mention of human sexuality or gender identity as sex education.

Action – This bill is waiting for a vote on the House floor. Please tell  your representative NO.

SB 215 establishes the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which allows any person, corporation or other entity to claim an exemption from any law, policy or government regulation if the action might burden their religious expression. An amendment to protect the Montana Human Rights Act and local non-discrimination ordinances failed by a vote of 47-53 on the House floor. The bill passed the House 59-38 and is on its way to the Governor to be signed. Governor Gianforte and Lt. Governor Juras lobbied legislators hard on this bill. 

YES to HB 36 – Indigenous safety and sovereignty

Bills that address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women have had a lot o so please make sure you prioritize this action.


Action – This bill is going back to the Senate for approval of???, and then is expected to be signed by the governor. 

YES to HB 36 – Indigenous safety and sovereignty

Bills that address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women have had a lot of  bipartisan support at every point in the legislative process. Let’s give HB 36 support as it nears the finish line!

HB 36 establishes a missing persons response team training grant program. It passed its second reading in the Senate, and was referred to the Senate Finance and Claims Committee. 

Action – Please tell that committee and your senator yes on this bill. 

Tribal sovereignty – SB 214 defeated 

SB 214 was an attempt to revise tax exemptions for private land that is being reclaimed and added to tribal trust lands. A similar bill like this was tabled in committee, and this bill was tabled in the House Taxation Committee this week.  Montana’s tribal nations have repeatedly spoken out against this bill and two others like it this session, so we are relived to see it finished. 

Indigenous voting rights failed to pass

HB 613 is the Montana Native American Voting Rights Act, which would make it easier for Indigenous people to vote. This bill had a great deal of support through the legislative process, only to be voted down on third reading in the House, 48-51.

Losing these protections for Indigenous voters is difficult to face, especially considering how many voter suppression bills have passed. Here is a statement from Keaton Sunchild, Political Director of Western Native Voice. 

NO to HB 406 – Voter suppression

An inclusive democracy should make it easier for people to exercise their right to vote. Instead, legislators are creating barriers to voting for first-time voters, college students, people who move frequently, Indigenous people, and people who work long hours.


HB 406 is the last of the voter suppression laws left in the process. All others, which include SB 169, SB 170, and HB 176, have all passed. HB 406 attempts to place new restrictions on absentee ballot collection that would directly impact Native voters.

Action – This bill is waiting for executive action from the Senate State Administration Committee. Please tell this committee and your senator NO. 

No to SB 108 – Militia ideology and health boards

SB 108 weakens the authority of county health boards and officers by restricting them to recommendations (not directives) on public-health measures. County commissions would be given final approval authority instead of health board members with specialized knowledge and medical training.

Anti-government groups have routinely pushed for exactly this type of shift to give more power to the county commission, which they view as the highest legitimate level of government.

Action  – SB 108 is waiting for action from the House Business and Labor Committee. Please tell them and your representative NO.

 

YES to federal funding for refugee resettlement programs

Earlier this session, $390,000 in federal funding for refugee resettlement programs was removed from the budget. This funding is available at no cost to the state or municipalities, and it has provided critical resources for jobs and  support mechanisms for recently arrived refugees. Thanks to the hard work of the International Rescue Committee and Soft Landing Missoula, the Senate Finance and Claims Committee added the funding back into the state budget. 

Action – Please tell the Senate Finance and Claims Committee and your senator to keep funding for refugee resettlement in the budget. 

NO to SB 100  – Economic justice

SB 100 would make it more difficult for Montanans to qualify for public assistance programs, leading to low-income folks losing their healthcare or SNAP benefits, even if they’re eligible for those programs.


Action
– This bill had a hearing scheduled in the House Human Services Committee on Tuesday and is waiting for executive action. Click here to send a message to the House Human Services Committee and tell them NO to Senate Bill 100.


We are relieved that HB 676 was tabled in committee. It would have made multiple changes to CHIP and Medicaid that would increase the number of uninsured children in Montana and further complicate DPHHS’s ability to verify information.


Thank you to Montana Women Vote for their leadership in opposing these bills.

No to HB 279 and SB 99 – Attacks on public schools

The Religious Right is attacking the basic rights of many Montanans this session. They’ve targeted LGBTQ rights, reproductive choice, and now they’re trying to undermine public schools. 

HB 279 is a proposal to increase the Montana Tax Credit Scholarship Program from a tax credit of $150 to an unbelievable $200,000. This bill burdens the state as wealthy folks receive more tax cuts which deplete funds available for our public schools. We know that many religious schools, like the one that Gov. Gianforte helped found in Bozeman, have refused to provide support services for students with special needs. Any measure that moves towards privatization and away from educating ALL students should be rejected. 

Action – This bill passed its hearing in the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. Please tell your representative NO on HB 279.

HB 633 was tabled in the House Education Committee, possibly due to the fiscal note. This bill was an attempt to establish charter schools using taxpayer funds. It’s very possible that these schools would promote specific religious beliefs, exclude LGBTQ students and families, and refuse to offer resources for special needs or gifted students.  Similar bills in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 failed.

SB 99 is another bill supported by the Religious Right. See details above, under the anti-LGBTQ Discrimination by Design bills. 

NO to HB 229 and HB 337 – Anti-choice bills

Two anti-choice bills need immediate attention! Legislators have passed four harmful bills this session, and these are two more attacking reproductive choice in Montana. 

Action items

  • HB 229 would prevent insurance policies obtained through the Affordable Care Act exchange from covering abortion. It passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, so please tell your senator NO.

  • HB 337 attempts to redefine the word “person.” This would give a fertilized egg constitutional rights in order to ban access to abortion and possibly birth control. This bill had a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, and is awaiting executive action. Please contact the committee and your senator and tell them NO!

NO to HB 244 – Death penalty

 HB 244 would change the requirements for drugs used for lethal injections so a broader range of drugs could be used for executions. This change is happening because the drugs that were previously used for fast, pain-free executions have been discontinued by their manufacturers.

Action – This bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a narrow 6-5 vote. Please tell your senator to vote NO.

No to SB 159, SB 182, and SB 184 – Budget and revenue

These bills have one theme in common: lowering taxes for the wealthy and cutting much-needed revenue for important state programs.  You can read more here

SB 159 would lower the top income tax rate from 6.9% to 6.75%. That means that 79% of the benefit will go to the wealthiest 20% of households and drop more than $30 million in revenue from the general fund per year. That will probably lead to drastic cuts in vital services and infrastructure in Montana.

Action – SB 159 is waiting for executive action in the House Taxation Committee. 

SB 182 will trigger more tax cuts to wealthy Montanans based on state revenue levels. This bill will have serious repercussions that could last for years.

Action – This bill passed the House Taxation Committee with a 12-6 vote, and should have a floor vote in the future. Please tell your House member NO. 

 

SB 184 cuts certain capital gains taxes, which benefits wealthy investors, not workers. This will not help Montana recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Action – This bill passed its second reading in the House on Monday. Please tell your representative NO. 

Bills recently passed

Here’s a recap of bills that passed their floor votes and are headed to the governor’s desk. Our position on each of these bills is indicated with a YES or NO.

  • HB 35 will establish a missing persons review commission in order to address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people. YES

  • HB 98 will extend the Missing Indigenous Persons Task force and the LINC (Looping in Native Communities) grant program. YES 

  • HB 121 would remove power from the nonpartisan public health experts on county health boards and give it to partisan members of county commissions. This bill passed its third reading on Thursday. NO

  • HB 200 would prohibit sanctuary cities in Montana, even though none currently exist. This bill would fine cities that do not take part in federal immigration issues. NO

  • HB 223 would compel local law enforcement to play the part of federal immigration agents and could increase racial profiling across Montana. This bill passed its third reading in the Senate. After approval of amendments, this should soon pass to the governor. NO

  • SB 169 would require photo IDs to register to vote and vote in person. It passed third reading in the House with amendments, and now the Senate has to approve those amendments. NO

  • SB 170, which required annual voter list maintenance that could lead to voter list purges, passed out of the House and was sent to the governor’s desk. NO

  • HB 176 will eliminate same-day voter registration and end late voter registration at noon the day before Election Day. It passed third reading in the House on Tuesday. NO

  • HB 258 would prohibit enforcement of any federal regulations regarding firearms in Montana. This bill passed the Senate and should be on its way to the governor’s desk. NO

 

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When legislators in the 2021 Montana Legislature launched a series of bills attacking the basic rights of LGBTQ people, Montanans responded. About 300 businesses and organizations signed onto a statement telling these legislators that these bills were bad for hardworking Montanans and bad for business.

Here’s the list of all of the businesses and organizations that signed! They are listed in alphabetical order by city, and you’ll find businesses in our lovely smaller towns under the “Rural” heading.

The statement they signed is located at the end of this list. Thank you to the Free and Fair Coalition for their work on this list!

CORPORATE

American Airlines

Molson Coors Beverage Company

BILLINGS

406 Race Series

AD Astra Air Duct Cleaning

Angela Matta, LCSW, LAC, PC

Canopy Behavioral Health, PLLC

DerB Designs

Fireweed Creative

Kinesi Coaching Studios

Louis Habeck Construction

Montana Endeavors

Nerd Rager

New Vision Software

Pita Pit

Planned Parenthood of Montana

Q360 Health

Resolute Health and Wellness

Russ Plath Law LLC

Samantha M French Arts

Teresa Kennedy Counseling And Consulting, PLLC

Transformative Counseling LLC

Visionary Counseling

Zest Billings LLC

BOZEMAN

2 Fat Guys Spirits

Aether Tattoo

AlterCycles

Arete Builders

A New Hope Psychotherapy PLLC

Better Angels LLC

Bird Dog Strategies

The Bountiful Table

Bridger Brewing

Bridgercare

Broadside Productions

Broken Ground

Bruca LLC

Calliope Flowers

Classic Clean Inc.

commonFont, LLC

Cottonwood Enterprises, Inc.

Cottonwood Environmental Law Center

D Gregory Smith, MA LCPC

Design 5

Downtown Bozeman Partnership

DTLP Inc. / SHINE Beer Sanctuary

Egzact Electrolysis Center

Erotique

Experiencing Change LLC

Faultline Strategies

Fresco Cafe

Good Trip Adventures

Haven

Heather White Strategies LLC

Hive and Hamlet Inc.

Hopa Mountain

JG Research and Evaluation

Karen Lundgren LLC

Kestrel Aerial Services, Inc.

Lang Studios, LLC

Last Best Comedy

The Lazy Enuf

Lehrkind Mansion Bed And Breakfast

Leslie Trumble, PsyD, LLC

Lotus Effects, LLC

Love | Schack Architecture, PC

Madysen Rose Designs

Magnite, Inc.

Metta Counseling Services, LLC

Mountain Air Dance

Movie Lovers Inc

The Montana Racial Equity Project

Montana Science Center

Mountain Air Dance

Mr. Paper Caper

Nick Hill Films

Nine Worlds LLC

Oasis Organics

Open Routes Counseling

Paulie’s Market and Deli

Priscilla Foster Handmade LLC

Que Ver, LLC

Red Chair Retreat AirBnB

Sacred Images Tattoo and Piercing

Scarson Photography

Schenk Construction Inc.

SHÈN

Slanted Creative Co.

Slow Drift River Shuttles

Smith River Therapy

Sun Snow Creative

Tadpull

Three Rivers Defense

Timberline to Coastline

Transitions Counseling

Velvet Studio

Verge Theater

Vibliome Therapeutics

Vibrant Life Therapy, LLC

Village Green Preservation

weas design.

Wellness Well Made

Wild Joe’s Coffee Spot

Wordal Law PLLC

XY Planning Network

Yellowstone Wellness

YGP LLC

BUTTE

Copper Physical Therapy

Great Harvest Bread Co.

Long Haul Goods

Marching Order LLC

Shelly Clark Music Studio

Taco Del Sol

Woodie’s Rescues

The Write Exposure

 

FLATHEAD VALLEY

Bigfork

Ned Cooney, Facilitator/Consultant, Echo Ventures Inc.


Columbia Falls

Backslope Brewing

Greg Schatz Builder

Montana Woman Magazine

Odd Fellows Coffee House 

Snowy Owl Therapeutic Services


Kalispell

Carrie Thiel Counseling

Columbia Falls United Methodist Church

Flathead Farmworks

Handle Brews

Glacier Queer Alliance

Kalispell Brewing Company

Megan Keenan Counseling

Mission Mountain Wholesale

Randall Woodworking

Sane Solutions by Dru

Soul Nutrition, LLC

Whitefish

Clearwater Counseling Services, LLC

Explore Whitefish (Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Garden Wall Inn

HandWorks

Harbor Mountain Properties

LJ Communications, Inc

Love Lives Here in the Flathead

Mazur & Mazur, LLC

Montana Coffee Traders

Nelson’s Ace Hardware

Riverhome Psychological Services, PLLC

Thrive Inc.

The Walking Man Frame Shop & Gallery

GREAT FALLS

Add-A-Tudez

Belles and Lace Bridal

Bighorn Outdoor Specialists

Bridge Solutions, LLC

Dia Desserts

Electric City Creative

Fireweed Creative

Graybill Law Firm, PC

Residential Appraisal Service of Montana, LLC

REP Space

Shirley J. Cayko, LCSW

Sirens and Dappers Clothing Shoppe

HELENA

1+1=1 Gallery

Ann Truesdell, Independent consultant 

The Art Space

Aspen Law PLLC

Auxilyum Technologies, Inc

Blackfoot River Brewing Co.

Blue Feather Chiropractic

Blue Heron Design

Chasers of the Light

Cotton-Top Pastries

Emily Tosoni, Arbonne Independent Consultant

FUNKY TRUNK

General Mercantile

Grandstreet Theatre

Greenbriar Psychotherapy

Gulch Distillers

The Hawthorn

Helena Community Yoga

Illumination Interior Design

Jenny Buchman, Cosmetologist

Little Fox Learning Center

Loft Yoga Helena

Montago Coffee

Montana Book Company

Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Montana Human Rights Network

The Montana Post

The Myrna Loy

Nerd Central

The Painted Pot

Quality Plus Home Services

Queen City Framing & Art Supplies

Randall Fuhrmann Counseling and Therapy

RentHelena.com

Rock Wren Jewelry

Signs Now Helena

The Sovereign Health Project

Stevens Real Estate Group

Sunflower Bakery

Ten Mile Creek Brewery

Treasure State Internet

White Wolf Enterprises, LLC

LIVINGSTON

ASPEN – Abuse Support & Prevention Education Network

Blue Desk Art LC

Dunlap Rehabilitation Services

Fireside Productions Inc.

The Frame Garden

The Kitchen Shop

Montana Aquatic Resources Services

Montana Farrier Supply

studioryker

Wheatgrass Books & Gifts

MISSOULA

ACLU of Montana

Associated Students of the University of Montana

Banana Belt RealtyThe Clay Studio of Missoula

Bathing Beauties Beads

Beefcake Swimwear

Betty’s Divine

Big Dipper Ice Cream

Big Sky Herbals & Edibles

Black Coffee Roasting Co.

Bridge Pizza

Burns St. Bistro

The Catalyst Cafe

ClassPass

The Clay Studio of Missoula

Cedar Creek Integrated Health

Central House Strategies

Charley Macorn

Clyde Coffee

Community Forward Consulting

Complexly

Dandelion and Pine

Darrow Law PLLC

Design to Print

Detour

Driscoll Hathaway Law Group

Ear Candy Music 2

Ellie Hill Smith, Law Offices

EmpowerMT

Erica Sandiland, LCSW, LLC

FABshed

Fact & Fiction Books

First United Methodist Church

Flaherty Consulting

Flaherty Financial Services

Garden City Harvest

GILD

Glacier Country Regional Tourism Commission

Glacier Ice Rink

Golden Yolk Griddle

Imagine Nation Brewing

Ink Realty Group

Inner Roads Inc.

International Wildlife Film Festival

KBGA College Radio

Kevin Hilton

LAB Industries

Liquid Planet

Lyn’s Bookkeeping & Payroll Service

M-80 Chicken

MCAT TV

Mamalode

Meera Graham Art and Coaching

Missoula Bicycle Works

Missoula First United Methodist Church / Faith and Justice Group

Missoula First United Methodist Church / Mission & Outreach 

Missoula Food Bank & Community Center

Missoula Pediatric Associates

Missoula Therapy, PLLC

Missoulian

Montana Clay Creations

Montana Women Vote

MT Child Care Resource & Referral Network

North-Missoula Community Development Corporation

Oneshi Press

Painting with a Twist

Plantasia LLC

Poteet Construction

Poverello Center

Project Veterinary Clinic

Rattlesnake Construction and Investments

Ries Law Group, PC

Rio Chantel Photography

Ronald E. Barker, LCSW, MAC, SAP

The Roxy Theater

ShowRoom Missoula

Small Time Shirt

Submittable

Starhitch

Sunrise Movement Montana

Three Bales Home Supply

TransVisible Montana

Tuning Fork Creative LLC

United Church of Christ Missoula

Western Cultural, Inc.

Wildfire Ceramic Studio

Women’s Resource Center

Rural

A Buck or $2.00, Cut Bank

Antler Pub and Grill, Gardiner

Bellwether Jewelry, Babb

Blue Line Plumbing LLC, Manhattan 

Boulder Creek Packs, Corvallis

Bozeman Supportive Counseling, PLLC, Gallatin Gateway

Carole Paredes, LCPC, PLLC, Hamilton

Chapter One Book Store, Hamilton

County Rail Farm / Field Five Flowers, Huson

Follow Yer’ Nose BBQ, Emigrant

Fuze Electric, Ronan

Glacier Distilling Company, Coram

Griffith Steel, Baker

GRM Consulting, Darby

Hardin Chevrolet, Hardin

H bar N Craftworks, Wisdom

Hope’s Artisan Foods, Red Lodge

Indigikitchen, Babb

Innsjoen Enterprises, LLP, Somers

Iridium Learning & Consulting, Red Lodge

Little Pipestone Ranch Soap Co., Whitehall

Montana Air Studio, Florence

Montana Press Monthly

Open Doors Education and Consulting LLC, Belgrade

Overland Cruisers, Belgrade

Pistol Creek Ranch, St. Ignatius

Pom Italian Eatery, Red Lodge

Red Ants Pants, White Sulfur Springs

Ripples Unlimited, Belgrade

Sagebrush Woodcrafts, Roundup

Silent T Construction, Belgrade

SmartBooks, Polson

Thunder Cloud Images, Gallatin Gateway

Tongue River Winery, Miles City

Tree Hugger Soap Co., Dillon

Waxwing Psychotherapy, LLP, Polson

Wildflour Bakery, Emigrant

Whitehall Geogroup, inc., Whitehall

Vintage Apothecary, Bridger

 

Montana Business Leader Letter Opposing Anti-LGBTQ Bills: Full Text

To the Members of the Montana State Legislature,

The companies and organizations joining this statement are committed to serving Montana by creating jobs, serving customers, and providing key services in this great state. Laws that encourage discrimination or prevent any residents, including our families and employees, from accessing medical care or fully participating in daily life as their true, authentic selves harms our ability to do business. We strongly embrace diversity and inclusion in our businesses, and we want our elected leaders to reflect that commitment as well. We’ve established the core values of fairness, equal treatment, opportunity, and inclusive business practices because they lead to more productive and engaged employees, increased customer satisfaction, and financial performance, but also because it’s the right thing to do.

We are deeply concerned by the bills in the Montana Legislature that target LGBTQ individuals – specifically transgender youth – for exclusion or differential treatment. This slate of bills include HB 112, HB 427, SB 215, and SB 280. They are measures that would ban access to best practice medical care for transgender people, parental rights, social and family services, student sports, or access to public facilities and encourage discrimination. These bills unnecessarily single out already marginalized groups for more mistreatment, harassment, and discrimination. No government should authorize discrimination against members of any community.

As businesses and organizations that support equality for all, we’ve done our part to make sure that our employees
will be protected at work. But these bills would harm our team members and their families as they navigate daily life and utilize services and opportunities that should be available for everyone.We know that these laws make it difficult for us to recruit the most qualified candidates for jobs and place substantial burdens on the families of our employees. Legislation promoting discrimination directly affects our businesses, whether or not it occurs in the workplace.

We are decision makers who make crucial, complex decisions about where we invest and grow our organizations. We do business in Montana for several reasons, but for many of us, it comes down to this: we love this state. We choose to live and work here, and we want to keep providing good-paying jobs and opportunities to the wonderful people who also live here. However, we will not compromise our values and stay silent regarding legislation that will negatively impact our employees, our customers, our competitiveness, and our communities.

We call on public leaders in business and elected office to oppose discriminatory legislation and ensure fairness and safety for all Montanans. As job creators who are constantly taking the pulse of economic viability of our state, we reject legislation that stifles opportunity and optimal financial growth by telling some people that they don’t belong here as their full, talented selves.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

 

 

 



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We’re still running the legislative marathon!

Thank you, thank you to everyone who is still writing and calling your legislators. This report adds up the number of messages that legislators have received through the Capitol switchboard and online mail form. It’s clear that you’ve been busy!

Here’s one example. For HB 112, the bill that would ban trans youth from participating in sports, more than 2, 145 people sent messages opposing the bill, and 853 were in favor.

Please keep up the amazing work! Each message is important as we remind legislators that Montana values are built on caring for our neighbors and creating opportunity for everyone. 

How to contact your legislators

  • Find your legislators here.

  • Email them here.

  • Call the Capitol switchboard at 406-444-4800 from 7:30am – 5pm on weekdays to leave them a message.

 


NO to SB 215, SB 280, HB 112, and HB 427 and the Discrimination by Design campaign

The dates for final votes for these bills have changed a couple of times, and we’re trying to keep everyone updated via Facebook posts and email action items. Given the information we have at the moment, we’re anticipating that floor votes on HB 112, HB 427, and SB 215 will happen early this week. See the listing for each bill for more information. 

These bills are part of a coordinated effort across the country to normalize anti-LGBTQ and anti-trans legislation. It’s crucial to keep sending the message that everyone has the right to feel safe in Montana.
 
HB 112 – This bill would prevent transgender and nonbinary youth from participating in school sports. Health care professionals have testified that participation in sports gives trans youth more confidence, better mental and physical health, and affirmation that they are valued members of their school. 

Action – HB 112 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee along party lines and may have a Senate floor vote on Tuesday. Please contact your senator and say NO to HB 112.

HB 427 would prevent trans youth under 18 from getting gender-affirming surgery. This situation is already heavily restricted, but bill sponsor Rep. John Fuller used the hearing on this bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee to spread misinformation about trans people and justify unnecessary restrictions on surgical care. 

Action – This bill is also likely to have floor vote in the Senate early this week. Please tell your senators NO. 

SB 215 would establish the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which would allow any person, corporation or other entity to claim an exemption from any law, policy or government regulation if the action might burden their religious expression.

Governor Gianforte and Lt. Governor Kristen Juras have been lobbying legislators hard on this bill, so please make sure you prioritize this action.

Action – This bill is also headed for a vote on the House floor next week. Please tell your representative to vote NO today and every day. 

SB 280 would force transgender people have surgery and get a court order before changing the gender marker on their birth certificate.

Action – This bill should have a vote in the House Judiciary Committee early this week, and could move to a floor vote soon after. Please tell this committee and your representative NO on SB 280. 

SB 99 would prevent access to accurate sex education and ban qualified medical providers from offering sex education. This bill could possibly classify any mention of human sexuality or gender identity as sex education.

Action – This bill is waiting for a vote on the House floor. Please tell  your representative NO.

YES to HB 36 – Indigenous safety and sovereignty

Bills that address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women have had a lot of support at every point in the legislative process. Let’s give this bill support during its final vote.

HB 36 establishes a missing persons response team training grant program. It passed its second reading in the Senate, and was referred to the Senate Finance and Claims Committee. 

Action – Please tell that committee and your senator yes on this bill. 

NO to SB 214 – Tribal sovereignty 

SB 214 is an attempt to remove tax exemptions for private land that is being reclaimed and added to tribal trust lands. Montana’s tribal nations have repeatedly spoken out against this bill and two others like it this session. 

Action  – SB 214 had a hearing in the House Taxation Committee and is waiting for a vote. Tell this committee and your representative NO. Read more here on SB 214. 

YES to HB 613 – Indigenous voting rights

HB 613 is the Montana Native American Voting Rights Act, which would make it easier for Indigenous people to vote. 

ActionThis bill is scheduled for a second reading on the House floor on Monday. Please tell your representative YES. 

No to HB 121 and SB 108 – Militia ideology and health boards

SB 108 weakens the authority of county health boards and officers by restricting them to recommendations (not directives) on public-health measures. County commissions would be given final approval authority instead of health board members with specialized knowledge and medical training.

Anti-government groups have routinely pushed for exactly this type of shift to give more power to the county commission, which they view as the highest legitimate level of government.

Action  – SB 108 is waiting for action from the House Business and Labor Committee. Please tell them and your representative NO.

 

YES to federal funding for refugee resettlement programs

Earlier this session, $390,000 in federal funding for refugee resettlement programs was removed from the budget. This funding is available at no cost to the state or municipalities, and it has provided critical resources for jobs and  support mechanisms for recently arrived refugees. Thanks to the hard work of the International Rescue Committee and Soft Landing Missoula, we are optimistic that we can restore this funding, but we need your help. 

Action – Please tell the Senate Finance and Claims Committee and your senator that you support funding for refugee resettlement. 

NO to SB 100 and HB 676 – Economic justice

SB 100 would make it more difficult for Montanans to qualify for public assistance programs, leading to low-income folks losing their healthcare or SNAP benefits, even if they’re eligible for those programs.

 

HB 676 makes multiple changes to CHIP and Medicaid. This bill would increase the number of uninsured children in Montana and further complicate DPHHS’s ability to verify information, making access to health coverage more difficult for both children and adults.

Both SB 100 and HB 676 leave Montana families, hospitals and providers, and communities vulnerable to loss of coverage and services, uncompensated care, and worsening health outcomes.

 

Action – Both bills have a hearing scheduled in the House Human Services Committee on Tuesday. Click here to send a message to the House Human Services Committee and tell them NO to Senate Bill 100 and House Bill 676. Thank you to Montana Women Vote for their leadership in opposing these bills.


NO to HB 258  – Gun safety

HB 258 would prohibit enforcement of any federal regulations regarding firearms in Montana. Gary Marbut, leader of the pro-militia extremist group the Montana Shooting Sports Association, and his supporters have been rallying support for this bill.

Action – This bill has one more reading on the Senate floor. Please contact your senator and say NO.

NO to HB 176 and HB 406 – Voter suppression

An inclusive democracy should make it easier for people to exercise their right to vote. Instead, legislators are creating barriers to voting for first-time voters, college students, people who move frequently, Indigenous people, and people who work long hours.

Action items

  • HB 176 would eliminate same-day voter registration and end late voter registration at noon the day before Election Day. It passed the Senate and is scheduled for its second reading in the House with amendments. Please tell your representative NO.

  • HB 406 attempts to place new restrictions on absentee ballot collection. This bill is waiting for executive action from the Senate State Administration Committee. Please tell this committee and your senator NO. 

No to HB 279, HB 633, and SB 99 – Attacks on public schools

The Religious Right is attacking the basic rights of many Montanans this session. They’ve targeted LGBTQ rights, reproductive choice, and now they’re trying to undermine public schools. 

HB 279 is a proposal to increase the Montana Tax Credit Scholarship Program from a tax credit of $150 to an unbelievable $200,000. This bill burdens the state as wealthy folks receive more tax cuts which deplete funds available for our public schools. We know that many religious schools, like the one that Gov. Gianforte helped found in Bozeman, have refused to provide support services for students with special needs. Any measure that moves towards privatization and away from educating ALL students should be rejected. 

Action – This bill passed its second reading in the House and was referred to the House Appropriations Committee on Friday. Tell this committee and your representative NO on HB 279.

HB 633 is an attempt to establish charter schools using taxpayer funds. It’s very possible that these schools could promote specific religious beliefs, exclude LGBTQ students and families, and refuse to offer resources for special needs or gifted students.  Similar bills in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 failed. Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen is a supporter of this bill, and also supported charter school bills in 2013 and 2015.

More discussion is ahead. According to the Daily Montanan, “A legal review of the bill notes a potential constitutional conflict. It said the bill exempts public charter schools from the Board of Public Education’s teacher certification requirements.” A fiscal note indicates that if three charter elementary schools and one charter high school were started by fiscal year 2023, that could cost the state general fund $1.1 million in 2023 and $2.2 million in 2025.

Bill sponsor Ed Hill has filed a rebuttal to the fiscal note, which you can read here.  

Action – HB 633 is waiting for executive action in the House Education Committee. Tell them and your representative NO.


SB 99 is another bill supported by the Religious Right. See details above, under the anti-LGBTQ Discrimination by Design bills. 

NO to HB 229 and HB 337 – Anti-choice bills

Two anti-choice bills need immediate attention! Legislators have passed four harmful bills this session, and these are two more attacking reproductive choice in Montana. 

Action items

  • HB 229 would prevent insurance policies obtained through the Affordable Care Act exchange from covering abortion. It passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, so please tell your senator NO.

  • HB 337 attempts to redefine the word “person.” This would give a fertilized egg constitutional rights in order to ban access to abortion and possibly birth control. This bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, March 31, so please contact the committee and your senator and tell them NO!

NO to HB 244 – Death penalty

 HB 244 would change the requirements for drugs used for lethal injections so a broader range of drugs could be used for executions. This change is happening because the drugs that were previously used for fast, pain-free executions have been discontinued by their manufacturers.

Action – This bill should have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Please tell them NO.

No to SB 159, SB 182, and SB 184 – Budget and revenue

These bills have one theme in common: lowering taxes for the wealthy and cutting much-needed revenue for important state programs.  You can read more here

SB 159 would lower the top income tax rate from 6.9% to 6.75%. That means that 79% of the benefit will go to the wealthiest 20% of households and drop more than $30 million in revenue from the general fund per year. That will probably lead to drastic cuts in vital services and infrastructure in Montana.

SB 182 will trigger more tax cuts to wealthy Montanans based on state revenue levels. This bill will have serious repercussions that could last for years.

Action – SB 159 and SB 182 are waiting for executive action in the House Taxation Committee. 

 

SB 184 cuts certain capital gains taxes, which benefits wealthy investors, not workers. This will not help Montana recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Action – This bill is scheduled for second reading in the House on Monday. Please tell your representative NO. 

Bills recently passed

Here’s a recap of bills that passed their floor votes and are headed to the governor’s desk. Our position on each of these bills is indicated with a YES or NO.

  • HB 35 will establish a missing persons review commission in order to address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people. YES

  • HB 98 will extend the Missing Indigenous Persons Task force and the LINC (Looping in Native Communities) grant program. YES 

  • HB 121 would remove power from the nonpartisan public health experts on county health boards and give it to partisan members of county commissions. This bill passed its third reading on Thursday. NO

  • HB 200 would prohibit sanctuary cities in Montana, even though none currently exist. This bill would fine cities that do not take part in federal immigration issues. NO

  • HB 223 would compel local law enforcement to play the part of federal immigration agents and could increase racial profiling across Montana. This bill passed its third reading in the Senate. After approval of amendments, this should soon pass to the governor.   NO

  • SB 169 would require photo IDs to register to vote and vote in person. It passed third reading in the House with amendments, and now the Senate has to approve those amendments. NO

  • SB 170, which required annual voter list maintenance that could lead to voter list purges, passed out of the House and was sent to the governor’s desk. NO

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This is a crucial week for action on LGBTQ legislation! Many of these destructive bills have their final hearings or votes on the floor of the House and Senate, so we need more calls and emails to persuade legislators that these bills will harm Montana in many ways.

It’s important to give priority to bills impacting Indigenous sovereignty, voting rights, and safety, too.

Please keep up the pressure! 

How to contact your legislators

  • Find your legislators here.

  • Email them here.

  • Call the Capitol switchboard at 406-444-4800 from 7:30am – 5pm on weekdays to leave them a message.


One more way to oppose anti-LGBTQ legislation

Businesses and organizations – if you serve Montana, you can tell tell legislators NO to anti-LGBTQ bills by signing onto this statement. It clearly outlines how these bills hurt LGBTQ people and businesses that operate by the core values of fairness, equal treatment, opportunity, and inclusive practices. 

NO to SB 215, SB 280 and the Discrimination by Design campaign

Please share the link to this report with your friends and family! We need every LGBTQ ally to send a message to the legislature that we won’t stay silent in the face of cruel bills that make life harder for Montanans who already face discrimination and harassment.

 

Here’s a great overview of the place we’re in right now. The groups supporting anti-LGBTQ legislation claim these bills aren’t about discrimination, but they have repeatedly tried to remove rights from LGBTQ Montanans. 
keep reading

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Today, our hearts are with the residents of Atlanta who are reeling from a mass shooting this week where eight people were murdered. Six of these people were Asian American women with names, families, and dreams. We stand in solidarity with these communities and their families and call for an end to hate crimes.

These are the names of the victims. Say their names.

  • Xiaojie Tan 

  • Daoyou Feng 

  • Soon Chung Park

  • Suncha Kim

  • Yong Ae Yue

  • Hyun Jung Kim

  • Delaina Ashley Yaun

  • Paul Andre Michels 


Every shooting is a tragedy, but we are especially disturbed to see these senseless murders after a
steady rise in violence targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islander people across America. According to this article from the Los Angeles Times, report by Stop AAPI Hate documented 3,795 racially motivated attacks against Asian Americans from March 2020 through February 2021.   keep reading

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