The pace at the Montana Legislature isn’t slowing down. As we get closer to transmittal this week, legislators are pushing bills through as fast as they can, so a lot of dangerous legislation is being considered.

Several bills haven’t moved forward since last week because we’re hitting the transmittal deadline, which is Wednesday, March 3. Bills need to cross from the chamber where they originated (from House to Senate or vice versa) by this date. If you’re not seeing action on bills that crossed to the other chamber earlier this month, that’s probably because legislators know they have time to act on them during the second half of the session.

Please take a few minutes to make comments on these bills. There’s a good chance that we can kill some of the really terrible ones this week. 

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 and the Discrimination by Design campaigns

Legislators should be using their time focusing on Montana’s economy, but they’re attacking LGBTQ people instead. We’re calling their efforts the Discrimination by Design campaign. Please email your legislators every day on one of these bills. Top priorities are SB 215 and SB 280!

You can read more about these bills here.

SB 215 is another attempt to 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. And it could allow individuals to decide that non-discrimination laws, child abuse laws, and domestic violence laws don’t apply to them.
keep reading

0

MHRN supporters have reached out to ask what on earth is happening at the session this week! New bills are cropping up, and the others are getting pushed through the process very quickly.

Why the rush? It’s almost transmittal time!

Transmittal is an important deadline within the legislative session. Bills that aren’t passed through the chamber of the legislature where the bill was introduced by this date are essentially dead. The deadline for introducing general bills (those not related to the budget) is next week. That’s why legislators are hustling to get their bills submitted and hearings scheduled.

The result is that in a year when so many bad bills are coming through, it’s going to feel even more overwhelming for the next few days. Please keep breathing, keep calling or writing, and do what you can. Thank you for all of the work you’ve done so far!
We did our best to list bills by priority in this summary, but that doesn’t mean that bills at the bottom are less important.

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.


Discrimination by Design – NO to anti-LGBTQ legislation

Top priority for this week is a list of bills we’re calling the Discrimination by Design campaign. There’s no denying that all of these bills will make life more difficult for LGBTQ community members, especially when some of them are specifically targeting transgender, nonbinary and Two Spirit people.

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 more confidence, better mental and physical health, and affirmation that they are valued members of their school. Montana could also lose up to $484 million in federal funding because this bill contradicts President Biden’s recent executive order that states, “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”


Action – Contact your senator to say NO to HB 112. 

HB 427 is a revised version of HB 113, which proposed denying health care to transgender youth. It looks like the bill sponsor is trying to get this version through by removing hormones and puberty blockers from the list of prohibited care, but the outcome is still the same. Montana legislators are trying to get between families and their medical care.

Action – HB 427 should have a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Monday, so please contact them today to say NO this bill. 

SB 215 is another attempt to 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. And it could allow individuals to decide that non-discrimination laws, child abuse laws, and domestic violence laws don’t apply to them.

Action – This bill passed out of committee 7-4 on a party line vote after receiving amendments. Please tell your senator NO on SB 215. 

SB 280 This bill, which is sponsored by the same legislator as SB 215, just appeared this week. It would force transgender people to have surgery and go through a court process before their birth certificate could be changed to their correct gender.

Action – A hearing in the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled for next Thursday. Please tell them NO. 

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

Action – Please tell your senator NO on this bill. 

NO to HB 200 and 223 – Immigration

These two bills made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, so we need another round of emails. Both these bills ask local police to play the role of immigration officers.

HB 200 prohibits sanctuary cities in Montana, even though none currently exist.


HB 223 is especially dangerous because it not only asks, but compels local law enforcement to play the part of federal immigration agents. This bill would divert local resources, open the door for profiling and civil rights violations, and erode trust in ways that make our communities less safe.

Action – Ask your senator to say NO to both bills, but please reach out to these additional senators on HB 223. They might be persuaded to vote against.

  • Duane Ankney – R-Colstrip, SD20

  • John Fitzpatrick – R-Great Falls, SD10

  • Chris Friedel – R-Billings, SD26

  • Terry Gauthier – R-Helena, SD40

  • Bruce Gillespie – R-Ethridge, SD9 (Cascade, Augusta, Choteau, Conrad, Shelby, Cut Bank)

  • Doug Kary – R-Billings, SD22

  • Walt Sales – R-Manhattan, SD35

  • Daniel Salomon – R-Ronan, SD47

  • Jason Small – R-Busby, SD21

  • Russ Tempel – R-Chester, SD14

  • Jeff Welborn – R-Dillon, SD36

  • Mark Blasdel (Majority Leader) – R-Kalispell, SD 


NO on SB 169, SB 170, HB 176, HB 406, HB 455 – Voter suppression

More voter suppression bills are flowing into the session, and the ways that they could complicate voting in Montana are staggering. These bills seems to be targeting voting rights for Indigenous people, new voters, and college students in particular.
Thanks to the Indigenous Organizers’ Collective for sharing this information so we can take action!

Information and action items
SB 169 would require voters to have photo ID to register to vote and cast their vote. This bill had a hearing on Friday, so please tell the House State Administration committee NO. 

SB 170 would require annual voter list maintenance. This could lead to list purges that removed people from voter registration lists, but they would not realize they were ineligible to vote until Election Day. Please tell the House State Administration committee NO. 

HB 176 would eliminate same-day voter registration and end late voter registration at noon the day before Election Day. Please tell the House State Administration committee NO.

HB 406 attempts to place new restrictions on ballot collection. People who are not family members would be required to register as a ballot collector and fill out a permission slip for each ballot collected. Each violation of proper registration would be considered a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of $500. Tell the House Judiciary Committee NO. 

HB 455 attacks the absentee ballot process by complicating the system considerably. Please tell the House State Administration committee NO. Here are some of the unnecessary and oppressive restrictions it creates. 

  • Absentee ballots would have to be returned by 6pm on Election Day

  • Voters would be required to request an absentee ballot for each election, eliminating the option to be on a permanent absentee ballot list

  • Absentee ballots would have to be sent to your residential address, even if you’re away temporarily

 

Yes on SB 94 and SB 146, NO on LC 2809 – Indigenous sovereignty

It’s time for Indigenous People’s Day! Both SB 94 and SB 146 would add Indigenous People’s Day to the list of Montana holidays. Click here to read about these bills.

Action – Both bills had hearings before the Senate State Administration Committee, so please contact this committee and your senator to say YES to SB 94 and SB 146.

LC 2809 This bill sponsored by Bob Keenan would repeal the CSKT water compact, which was carefully negotiated for years. Many anti-Indian groups and their supporters have been trying to undo this agreement at every step in the process. 

This bill could enter the process at moment, and we will tell you how and when to say NO.

NO on HB 121, HB 236, HB 216, and SB 108 – Militia ideology removing authority from health boards

Most of the county supremacy bills are about to advance, so please take a few minutes to contact legislators and committees about the dangers of these bills.You can click here to get talking points about these bills and their connections to militia ideology.

Updates and action items

HB 121 and HB 236 are bills that remove power from the nonpartisan public health experts on county health boards and give it to partisan members of county commissions. These bills have hearings in the House Business and Labor Committee on Monday. Please tell that committee to vote NO. 

HB 316 is waiting for action in the House Business and Labor Committee. The bill gives final decision on public health measures and the local level to the county commission, changes the governor’s powers during statewide emergencies, and allows legislators to request to poll the entire legislative body in order to challenge the governor’s emergency orders. Please contact this committee and tell them NO. 

SB 108 would remove certain powers from the health board, like the ability to recommend and carry out prevention measures for communicable diseases. It would also remove penalties for people who don’t comply with health department directives. This bill has a hearing scheduled in House Business and Labor on Tuesday, February 23, so please contact the committee and tell them NO. 

HB 144 , which would allow sheriffs to refuse to assist health officers without penalty. This bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, so please contact your senator and say NO. 

Yes on HB 458 and HJ 12, No on HJ 11 – Accountability for militias

HB 458 – During the summer of 2020, there were a number of militia and so-called “Patriot” groups that showed up heavily armed to public events across Montana. They called themselves “neighborhood protectors” and claimed to be coordinating with police departments. In some cases, they chased down people they falsely assumed to be suspicious and held them until actual officers arrived.

This attempt to rebrand violent extremist groups as legitimate law enforcement entities needs to be stopped. This bill will classify those actions as impersonating an officer and place some other limits on militia activity.

Action – HB 458 has a hearing on Tuesday, February 23 in the House Judiciary Committee. Please tell them YES.

HJ 12 is a resolution recognizing that white nationalism and neo-Nazi groups are some of the largest threats to public safety in America today. This bill follows the conclusions of reports from the FBI , the Department of Homeland Security, and investigations after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol that far-right extremists are responsible for the majority of violent and lethal activity in America.

Action – HJ 12 will have a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on February 23. Please urge the committee members to vote YES.

HJ 11 , which would classify antifa as a domestic terrorist group, had a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee this week. During the hearing, a committee member asked bill sponsor Rep. Braxton Mitchell if this bill was bipartisan, as Mitchell claimed, where the Democratic sponsors were. Mitchell admitted that “making a joke on the bill.” Committee Chairman Barry Usher reminded Mitchell that the hearing was not a joking matter. 

After the hearing, 31 GOP 31 Republican lawmakers originally listed as co-sponsors withdrew their names.

Action – Tell the House Judiciary NO on HJ 11.

NO on SB 158 – Gun safety

SB 158 would allow legislators to carry concealed weapons on the floor of the legislative chambers, creating an intimidating atmosphere, especially when discussions can be heated.

Action – This bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, so please contact your senator and say NO to SB 158.
 

NO to HB 171, HB 136, HB 140, and HB 167, HB 229, and HB 337 – Anti-choice

HB 171, HB 136, HB 140, and HB 167 are attempts to restrict reproductive health care and make abortion impossible in Montana. For more context on these bills, click here  to listen to an interview with Joey Banks, the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of Montana. He explains why full access to reproductive care is crucial for Montanans.

This article provides an overview of all of these anti-choice bills. 

Action – Please contact your senators today and tell them to vote No on HB 136, HB 140, HB 167, and HB 171. 

HB 229 would prevent insurance policies obtained through the Affordable Care Act exchange from covering abortion. This would force people with tight budgets to pay for this important care out of pocket.

Action – This bill is waiting for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, so please contact the committee and your senator and say NO to HB 229. 

HB 337 is a new bill attempting to redefine the word “person.” This would give a fertilized egg constitutional rights in order to ban access to abortion and possibly birth control.

Action — HB 337 will soon be up for debate on the House floor, so please contact your senator to say NO. 

NO on Gov. Gianforte’s budget, SB 159 and HB 279 – Budget and tax cuts

Gov. Gianforte’s proposed tax cuts are bad for Montana, and especially for working families. The proposed cuts will bring no benefit for them, but the wealthiest Montanans will get 80% of the benefits. Former Montana tax and economic development experts say that this tax politics that benefit the wealthy aren’t good for our state. Read more here


We’re featuring a couple of the tax bills below, but make sure you read this report from the Montana Budget and Policy Center which shows exactly how devastating and unfair the entire plan really is. 

SB 159 – This bill for “income tax relief” only helps those who already have the most. It lowers the top income tax rate from 6.9% to 6.75%, which means that 79% of the benefit will go to the wealthiest 20% of households. 

Someone with adjusted gross income of $25,000 will NOT get a tax cut, while a millionaire will get more than $1,400. That’s not only unfair, it will drain the state budget of $30 million each year and starve crucial programs of the funds they need.

Action – This bill passed out of the Senate Taxation Committee this week. Please tell your senator to vote NO on SB 159.

HB 279 – This bill would dramatically expand the tax-credit program for private schools. The current limit of $150 would jump to a shocking $200,000. This would allow individuals and companies to funnel money away from public education and steer it directly toward religious schools, continuing the Religious Right’s sustained attack on public education.

Action – This bill is still waiting for a vote in the House Education Committee. Please contact the committee and your representative and tell them NO on HB 279. 

NO to HB 244, YES to HB 335 – 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. It is uncertain what those drugs would be and if they would be adequate for humane executions.

Action –This bill had a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee this week, so please contact these members and your representative and say NO to HB 244.

HB 335 would end the death penalty in Montana and replace it with life in prison without possibility of parole. This bill is still waiting for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. We’ll let you know when to take action! 

No HB 168, HB 251, and SB 89 – Attacks on unions

These bills attack the freedom of workers to belong to unions, have union dues subtracted from their paychecks, and work through union representatives to negotiate wages and benefits. You can read more about the problems with these bills in an editorial from the Montana AFL-CIO here .

The language implies that union membership is coerced, and the restrictions these bills enact represent government overreach and an assault on the freedom of speech. 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.

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.

Action items

  • HB 168 had a hearing before the House Business and Labor Committee. Please contact that committee and tell your representative NO on HB 168.

  • HB 251 The Montana Human Rights Network opposes this bill because “Right to Work” laws harm working families. Studies show that states with such policies have lower wages, higher rates of household poverty, and increased levels of consumer debt. “Right to Work” only benefits large corporations at the expense of workers. This bill had a hearing in the House Business and Labor Committee on Tuesday, February 16. Please contact that committee and tell them NO.

  • SB 89 would revise laws related to collection of union dues. This bill passed out of the Senate State Administration Committee, so please contact your senator and say NO.

    Questions about these bills or the legislative process? Email cherilyn@mhrn.org. 

0


Job Title: Executive Director
Reports To: Board of Directors
Compensation: $75,000 to $80,000, plus generous benefits and paid leave. Funding for relocation expenses available. 
Classification: Full-time exempt
Location: Helena, MT preferred, but other locations in Montana will be considered


The Montana Human Rights Network (MHRN) was founded in 1990 by grassroots groups from all over the state which formed in response to militia and white nationalist and supremacist activity, and to counter hate activity. Our mission is to organize Montana residents to realize their power to create pluralism, justice, and equity in their communities. We challenge bigotry and discrimination, support marginalized people, and advocate for legislation that honors everyone’s basic rights.


MHRN realizes this mission by:

  • Organizing human rights events and educational opportunities

  • Exposing, diffusing and responding to racism, white nationalism and the extreme right

  • Developing and maintaining robust programs to support LGBTQ+ equality

  • Developing and pursuing public policy initiatives and holding public officials accountable

  • Working to increase community support and legal protection for groups of people targeted by hate activity

  • Being allies who build and support all human rights


We seek a leader who:
  • Embodies the values of our mission

  • Will reflect those values in practice through growing and developing leadership at all levels of the organization

  • Works to progress the quality, success, and development of our programs.

  • Is an engaging collaborator with demonstrated cultural awareness and agility with the ability to build trust, credibility, and navigate a complex landscape


The MHRN currently has a long-time, experienced, talented, and dynamic staff of six, with staff working out of the main office in Helena and organizers in Butte, Missoula, and Kalispell. MHRN is overseen by ten board members from across the state. 


The MHRN is growing. We are seeking a dynamic leader who will thrive in a culture of shared governance to fill the role of Executive Director whose primary responsibilities are to lead and sustainably move our mission forward.
The Executive Director will be responsible for the execution and delegation of the duties outlined below. 


Duties & Responsibilities


Leadership & Strategy:
Facilitates involvement and oversight of MHRN by the Board of Directors, and leads the strategic planning for the organization in partnership with the Board of Directors with input from staff.

Fiscal Management: Ensures the fiscal responsibility of MHRN by providing ongoing oversight of fiscal operations; including the development and distribution of financial reports to the Board of Directors and stakeholders to ensure established objectives.


Development: Develops MHRN annual fundraising and development plan, and stewards relationships with foundations, donors, and other key stakeholders.


Program: Coordinates MHRN state-level advocacy and legislative agenda, including lobbying and outreach activities. Provides vision and leadership to guide the programmatic work of the organization.


Operations: Ensures MHRN is operating in compliance with federal and state laws, regulations, and guidelines with specific and applied knowledge related to diversity, inclusion, and nondiscrimination.


Staff Management: Empowers leadership at all levels of the organization by engaging best practices related to the recruitment, retention, support, and growth of a culturally diverse staff.


Membership & Engagement: Builds relationships with broader community of allies and potential partners, including representing MHRN in coalitions or other collaborative tables. Engages leaders and emerging leaders in key communities to increase grassroots support and membership while ensuring that affiliates of MHRN are active and have appropriate staffing support.


Communications & Media: Establishes MHRN strategic messaging and represents the organization to decision makers, donors, supporters, and the general public.


Essential Qualifications & Skills


Candidates for this position should have the following qualities as a result of experience and/or education:

  • Substantial professional and/or personal experience in human rights advocacy, nonprofit management, grassroots organizing, or related field

  • Demonstrated commitment to anti-racist praxis, economic justice, LGBTQ+ equality, human rights, and pushing back against extremism

  • Demonstrated success as a cross-cultural collaborator and relationship builder, with strong interpersonal skills and ability to build coalitions and trusting relationships with a broad range of diverse individuals, organizations, and groups to achieve results

  • Experience with employee engagement, retention, supporting their leadership and professional development, empowerment, and management, and demonstrated success in developing and implementing strategies to build and support a diverse staff

  • Commitment to modeling racial equity, diversity, cultural sensitivity, and inclusiveness in the workplace, with volunteers, with allies, and in program work

  • Proven record of success in financial management, fundraising, grant writing, and cultivating relationships with donors

  • Ability to foster open communication, collaboration, learning, and respect in the workplace

  • Demonstrated success in working collaboratively to develop and implement recruitment and retention strategies focused on building a diverse workforce

  • Knowledge of laws and policies connected to 501c(3)s, 501c(4)s, and PACs (Political Action Committees) and how to navigate the complexities of non-profit compliance


Desired Qualifications & Skills


We welcome candidates who demonstrate the following additional qualities:

  • Demonstrated success in identifying and implementing best practices of equity and inclusion and an excellent command of issues related to justice in human rights

  • Strong leadership, work ethic, visioning, strategic thinking, and listening abilities

  • Experience with communication strategy, planning, analysis, and organization branding and positioning

  • Strong track record in managing change with an understanding of the contexts, cultures and politics within institutions that impact the implementation of effective change

  • Experience with volunteer recruitment, management, and engagement

  • Experience with strategic operational and programmatic planning, implementation, and management


How to Apply


The Montana Human Rights Network recognizes the power of those most affected by the continued impact of systemic oppression to transform those systems. In our commitment to empowering residents to create pluralism, justice, and equity in their communities and our commitment to challenging bigotry and discrimination, we strongly encourage people of identities including and not limited to: Black, Indigenous and People of Color, women, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ+ community members, immigrants, and members of non-Christian faiths to apply.


Please submit a cover letter, resume, and three references to mhrnhiring@gmail.com


We are eager to fill this position, so please apply promptly. Candidate review will occur as we receive applications; interviews will begin March 22.


The Montana Human Rights Network does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, or family status. If you have any need for accommodation or assistance with the application process, please tell us how we can help by emailing mhrnhiring@gmail.com


The Montana Human Rights Network
PO Box 1509, Helena, MT 59624
(406) 442-5506
network@mhrn.org

0

Tells Legislative Committee the Real Threat Comes from the Far Right 

 

The Montana Human Rights Network is criticizing a bill brought by a freshman legislator out of the Flathead. The resolution is based on something like an urban legend promoted by the Far Right. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on House Joint Resolution 11 on Tuesday, February 16, 2021. HJ 11 seeks to declare Antifa a domestic terrorist organization. MHRN submitted comments to the committee stating the resolution is based on misinformation that the organization has previously dubbed the “Antifa Fantasy,” which is a conspiracy based on claims that Antifa is a violent threat to our communities.   

 

“Antifa has become a ghost story that Far-Right activists tell around the campfire of social media,” says MHRN’s Travis McAdam, Program Director for Combating White Nationalism and Defending Democracy. “These stories routinely make it sound like Antifa is going to attack our communities by land, air, and sea. However, the real threat to our communities comes from the Far Right. The entire country watched that threat become a reality when the mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.” 

 

Security and intelligence organizations have not documented any Antifa structure or leadership, and Antifa is more of an idea that is sometimes referenced by activists than an actual organization. In its comments to the committee, MHRN expands on the real dangers posed by the Far Right, citing reports from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI as confirmation. The comments also include numerous media reports on the topic. MHRN encourages the House Judiciary Committee to kill the resolution or amend it to focus on groups with structure and leadership, like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, that are real threats to safety.  

 

“House Judiciary should kill HJ 11 or at least amend it to include threats from the Far Right,” says McAdam. If they don’t, they should add references to the Headless Horseman and other scary urban legends and folklore. HJ 11 in its current form should be taken just as seriously as those ghost stories. 

   

MHRN has worked on policy issues regarding human rights at the Montana Legislature for over 30 years. While many extremist ideas have been proposed as bills during that time, MHRN notes that over the decades there has been an increasing number of Far-Right activists that have been elected to the state legislature. The 2021 session has shaped up to feature even more marginal ideas and characters than the 2011 session, which took place during the Tea Party revolution. One challenge MHRN and other advocacy groups have faced this year is that testimony that is critical of activists, movements, or ideas is often limited during committee hearings, where it’s deemed too personal to legislators.  

 

The line between Far-Right activists and lawmakers has become too blurred, leaving regular Montanans locked out of the seats of power in what is hailed as a citizen legislature,” says Rachel Carroll Rivas, Co-Director of MHRN. “This session we’ve seen testimony limited during bill hearings and other such manifestations of the Far Right’s influence. This happens when the Far Right is able to exert control over democratic processes. Democracy begins to suffocate as authoritarianism and conspiracies shape how policy is considered and made.” 

 

MHRN notes that, in the case of HJ 11, the resolution’s sponsor is an activist trained by the Far Right. Rep. Braxton Mitchell (R-Columbia Falls) cut his political teeth with Turning Point USA, a group known for its allegiance to former President Trump that frequently crosses the line into white nationalism. More information about Turning Point USA and Mitchell’s activism with the group can be found in this MHRN report. 

 

MHRN encourages community members to contact their legislators and tell them to vote NO on HJ 11. 

 

The comments submitted to the House Judiciary Committee by MHRN can be found here: https://mhrn.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/MHRN_Opposes_HJ-11.pdf 

 

0

The first weeks of the Montana Legislature seemed to be focused on bills attempting to take away the basic human rights of Montanans to access medical care, basic safety, and democracy. This week, many of the attacks are coming through taxation issues.

Read on to see which bills have the potential to create rigged systems and inequality in our state. We’ll give you all of the information you need to create a simple, thoughtful response to your legislators.

Remember that short emails are fine! We know the list is long, so if you don’t have much time, choose a few bills and focus on those.

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 on Gov. Gianforte’s budget, SB 159 and HB 279 – Budget and tax cuts

Any way you look at it, Governor Gianforte’s proposed budget is terrible for Montanans. Instead of generating revenue for crucial programs that serve local communities and people who have been hurt by the pandemic, Gov. Gianforte proposes cuts, cuts, and more cuts.

His fiscal vision for Montana is so bad that a former Republican legislator from Kansas is trying to warn us. “Do not expect that simply cutting taxes will magically produce economic prosperity. It did not happen in Kansas, and it will not happen for you,” said Don Hineman. Read his full letter here
keep reading

0



During the 2021 Montana legislative session multiple anti-transgender bills were proposed. HB112, a bill that would ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports from elementary school until college, is one of those bills. “Transgender Athletes: A Conversation” was organized by the Montana Gender Alliance for trans athletes to speak out against these bills, educate the public, and discuss how their participation in sports has changed their lives.
0

Bad bills have been stacking up and getting pushed through this week! Thank you for continuing to reach out to your legislators on these issues. It can feel overwhelming, but your persistence matters. 
 

It takes several steps for bills to get to the governor’s desk, and that’s why you’re seeing the same information a few weeks in a row. It’s fine to use the same talking points as a bill moves from a committee to the floor, and then goes to the opposite chamber. An email that’s 2-3 sentences long is all you need to tell your senator or representative yes or no on a bill!

Click here to email your legislators or call the Capitol switchboard at 406-444-4800 to leave them a message.

Here are the most recent updates on the legislation we’re following. 

NO to HB 200 and HB 223  – Anti-immigrant legislation 

These two anti-immigrant bills are getting approved and passed through the system. HB 200 prohibits sanctuary cities in Montana, even though none currently exist. HB 223 would compel local law enforcement officers to be pulled into immigration issues, which could increase racial profiling and erode trust between police and Montana residents.  

keep reading

0

Several bills are coming through the legislature in reaction to COVID-19. At first glance, many of them seem like backlash against mask wearing, quarantine orders, and restrictions on businesses. We’re all frustrated that life can’t just go back to normal just yet, but these bills express more than resentment. 

MHRN opposes these bills (see bill numbers below) because they attempt to give more authority to certain officials, generally county commissioners and county sheriffs, who may be more easily influenced by militia and so-called “Patriot” group supporters. We need to reject them in order to keep militia ideology from creeping into Montana law.

These bills fall into two categories:
1. Taking authority away from local county health boards/officers and giving it to county commissioners
2. Allowing county sheriffs to decide which laws they want to enforce

County health boards

As we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, we need nonpartisan public health professionals who follow evidence-based science making the decisions that keep people safe.



The bills designed to weaken the authority of county health boards and officers would give boards the authority to make recommendations for public health measures, but only county commissions would be given final approval. That means crucial health care decisions would be taken away from people with specialized knowledge and expertise and given to politicians. This will only further politicize and polarize decisions around public health.

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. The legislation we’re watching would help prop up their notion of county supremacy. 

Bills introduced to shift power form health boards to county commissions are HB 121, HB 236, and SB 108.

 

Sheriffs

These bills will lend a sense of legitimacy to militia ideas about sheriff supremacy, which posits that sheriffs can decide which laws they want to enforce. 

Militia activists like Ammon Bundy and his People’s Rights group have been trying to recruit sheriffs to their cause during the pandemic by encouraging them to refuse to enforce public health measures like masks and social distancing.

Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association has made repeated attempts to get Montana sheriffs to endorse this anti-government notion that sheriffs can decide which laws they enforce. Militias like the Oath Keepers constantly try to recruit sheriffs with the
 same idea. You can read more about Gary Marbut’s connections to militias and other extremists in MHRN’s report Shooting for Respectability and in an issue brief about Marbut’s attempts to rally sheriffs’ support for militia ideology.


Bills introduced to shift power from health boards to sheriffs are SB 67 and HB 144.

For more information about which legislators you need to contact to about these bills, please see the most recent email from MHRN or check our Facebook posts. Information changes daily, so we’ll try to keep you updated there.

Action items February 13-19

  • HB 316 had a hearing in the House Business and Labor Committee this week. Please contact the committee and your House member and say NO to HB 316.

  • HB 121 and HB 236 have been referred to the House Business and Labor Committee, so contact that committee and say NO to HB 121 and HB 236.

  • SB 108 is scheduled for hearing in the House Business and Labor Committee later this month.

  • SB 67 is headed to the House floor, so contact your representative and say NO.

  • HB 144 passed unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, so please contact your Senator and say NO.

 

0

Thank you to everyone who is writing to their legislators regularly! We had a great win with the defeat of the anti-transgender bill HB 113 —  your calls and emails make a difference. 
 
Legislation is moving quickly through both the House and Senate, and MHRN is keeping tabs on bills dealing with issues in our wheelhouse:  

  • Defeating white nationalism, antisemitism, and bigotry 

  • Resisting the influence of militia and so-called “Patriot” groups 

  • Protecting rights for LGBTQ community members 

  • Supporting safety and sovereignty for Indigenous people 

  • Maintaining access to reproductive care

  • Supporting economic equity 


There are a lot of new bills that need attention, and we’re featuring them first. Scroll down to find information on the other bills that are still in process.  
 
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of this information, so please remember that very short emails are fine. Unless you have expertise on a certain issue, writing 2-3 sentences is enough to let your legislator know your opinions on a bill.  

Click here to email your legislators or call the Capitol switchboard at 406-444-4800 to leave them a message.  

NO to HB 200 and HB 223  – Anti-immigrant legislation 

These two anti-immigration bills were heard in the House Judiciary Committee this week, and HB 200 has been voted to the House floor. HB 200 prohibits sanctuary cities in Montana, even though none currently exist. HB 223 would compel local law enforcement officers to be pulled into immigration issues, which could increase racial profiling and erode trust between police and Montana residents.  

keep reading

0

MHRN is seeking a Legislative Grassroots Organizer, located in Helena or remote for a 40 Hour Per Week Temporary Position.

Experience:  Community organizing experience is strongly preferred, but not required for an application to be considered.  Legislative or issue education campaign experience is preferred, but not required for an application to be considered.  Experience with the Voter Activation Network (VAN) is preferred, but not required for an application to be considered.  

Job Description: The legislative grassroots organizer position runs immediately through April 30th 2021.  This position’s main responsibility will be to mobilize voters to engage in the 2021 Montana Legislative Session on the Montana Human Rights Network’s legislative priorities of LGBT Rights and economic justice.  The grassroots organizer should be able to coordinate and collaborate with a diverse team of individuals representing a variety of organizations working on LGBT Rights, Economic Justice, Criminal Justice, Countering White Nationalism, and Racial Justice.  An ideal candidate should also have the capacity to work independently to achieve the civic engagement goals of these campaigns.  This position will require an individual to work some nights and weekends, and be adaptable to changing hours as legislation moves through the Legislature. All work will be conducted virtually per health guidelines with Covid 19. At home work is possible and preferred but Helena office space is available with required mask usage while in the office. All equipment and software to conduct the job is provided as property of MHRN.

Job responsibilities include:
  1. Recruit, train, and manage volunteers
  2. Plan and execute volunteer phone banks and texting programs
  3. Participate in planning lobby days
  4. Recruit community members to testify on legislation virtually
  5. Enter and manage data from volunteer activities 
  6. Draft sample letters to the editor
  7. Draft sample letters to legislators
  8. Draft sample legislative testimony 
  9. Draft legislative action alerts
  10. Participate in event planning(virtual)
  11. Participate in staffing events(virtual)
To apply please email a cover letter and resume to rachel@mrhn.org
0