Montana Legislature Update – March 22, 2021

Should a fertilized egg have the constitutional rights of a person? HB 337 would give constitutional rights to a fertilized egg to ban access to abortion and possibly some birth control. This bill passed the House and is on its way to the Senate. Contact your senator.

The Montana Human Rights Network says, “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 this is the time for calls and emails even if you have made contacts earlier.

Here are a few we have been closely watching:

1) HB 112 would prevent transgender youth from participating in school sports. It will likely have a Senate vote this week. Contact your senator.

2) HB 427 would prevent trans youth under the age of 18 from getting access to gender-affirming surgery. It will also likely have a Senate vote this week. Contact your senator.

3) SB 215 would establish the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and allows the justification of discriminatory behavior based on sincerely held religious beliefs. This includes refusing services, withholding benefits, and prohibiting access to governmental services. It’s now headed to the House floor. It passed the Senate narrowly, so contacting your representative is strongly encouraged.

4) SB 280 would force transgender people to have surgery and get a court order before changing the gender marker on their birth certificate. It will have a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee this week. Contact committee members and your representative.

Other alerts:

1) HB 259 would take away a local initiative to increase affordable housing by prohibiting Montana cities and towns from enacting inclusionary zoning which requires a certain percentage of affordable housing within an area. Both Bozeman and Whitefish currently have inclusionary zoning ordinances. Contact the (S) Local Government Committee and your senator.

2) HB 121 would allow the governor or local officials to overturn recommendations issued by county health boards. Contact (S) Business, Labor & Economic Affairs Committee and your senator.

3) HB 279 would increase the allowable tax credit for individuals and corporations for donations to private and for-profit schools from $150 to $200,000, a tax break for the wealthy at the expense of funds available for public schools. Contact the (H) Education Committee and your representative.

Status of bills we would like to see passed:

1) HB 235 would create nutrition incentives for SNAP to increase the buying power of fresh produce in supermarkets and farmers’ markets. Montana lower-income residents in rural communities and food deserts would benefit from this bill. Contact Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Safety Committee and your senator.

2) HB 35 would establish a missing persons review committee and it was overwhelmingly approved in the Senate. Now, it heads back to the House for approval of amendments.

3) HB 36 would establish missing persons response team training grants to combat the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. It was referred to the Senate Finance and Claims Committee.

4) HB 613 would revise tribal voting requirements to remove some hardships. This includes expanding access to ballot drop locations and allowing voters to use nontraditional addresses such as a tribal government building in their voting precinct when registering to vote. It was unanimously approved by the House committee and should be going to the House floor.

Phone 406-444-4800 to leave a message for a legislator or a committee. Go to

https://leg.mt.gov to leave a web message for a legislator or committee or to sign up to testify.
For updates on other bills, go to Key Issues and Bills at www.gallatinvalleymethodists.com or Look Up Bill Information at https://leg.mt.gov.

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