Legislative updates: 2/15/19
(From Montana Women Vote, Bryce Bennet, Under the Rotunda, Women’s Foundation of Montana.)
Round-up of bills in the last two weeks. There’s a lot going on, so please let us know if there’s something we’ve missed.
1. –Rep. Peppers Bill to Expedite Missing Persons Reports for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Passes Senate
This bill introduced by Rep. Rae Peppers that would seek justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women, HB 20, passed in the Senate 49-1 on third reading and will head to Governor Bullock’s desk to be signed into law. Hanna’s Act also passed out of committee 19-0. We will keep you updated on the status of these very important bills as they move along in the legislative process.
2. –The House voted 62-38 to establish Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Montana. Rep. Shane Morigeau’s bill, HB219, would also make it so that Columbus Day would not be recognized as a holiday in the state of Montana. This is a welcome step towards recognizing the contributions and accomplishments that Indigenous people have made in shaping Montana to be the state it is today.
From Jan Strout, member of the Legislative Committee on behalf of NOW
Dear Montana NOW members and Allies,
We congratulate the leadership of Bozeman IPD founder Marsha Small and her team for this visionary work to remove Columbus Day and replace it with a statewide Indigenous People’s Day. As you know, Montana NOW – with our priority commitment to advanccing racial justice and all forms of diversity – has been proud to co-sponsor both the City of Bozeman Proclamation and now this Montana bill #219 currently before the Legislature.
3. –House Bill 144, carried by Rep. Alan Redfield, would eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit, which provides tax credits for working families while retaining the Capital Gains Tax Credit, which primarily benefits the wealthiest 1% of Montanans.
4. –Rep. Schreiner’s education bill, HB 225 provides a comprehensive funding package for public schools. The bill would do three things:
1. Provides ANB funding for four-year-old children who are voluntarily enrolled in a preschool program in a public school.
2. Funds and reauthorize a teacher loan repayment program that helps rural schools recruit and retain teachers.
3. Provides for inflationary funding increases for school funding and adds special education to the list of components that will annually receive an inflationary increase.
5. Gov. Steve Bullock has made investing in preschool one of his top goals for the session. During his State of the State Address on Thursday, he laid out his proposal: $22 million for public schools to offer preschool, and $8 million to continue the STARS Preschool program for Head Start and other private and community programs.
6. –Greg DeVries-R Whitehall introduced HB 303 in the House Education Committee this afternoon. This bill would remove school compulsory attendance laws, lower education standards, and prohibit any enforcement of the few remaining benchmarks.
7. — HB 354 by Rep. Rodney Garcia (HD 52) – a bill that “Restricts sexually explicit materials and sexually oriented businesses” from being within a certain range of schools.
8. –Sexual harassment and discrimination policy update:
revisions have been made to the sexual harassment and discrimination policy, changing some language and restricting the policy.
Ultimately, most Democrats voted for the bill package, believing that having some policy to address harassment and discrimination was a step in the right direction.
9.–Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell Proposes Bill to Pay Workers a Living Wage
A recent report showed that Montana has the fastest growing rate of income-inequality in the United States. To help more Montana families make ends meet, Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell of Helena introduced HB 345, to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour this year and would increase minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.
10. –The House Education Committee had its first hearing on Rep. Chris Pope’s bill HB 298, which would provide funding to Montana schools to help students with special needs stay in high school until they turn 21 in order to obtain a high school diploma.
11.–HB 378 would require SNAP participants, including parents of children aged 6 and up, to participate in a workfare program, unless they are working or exempt.
12.–Greg Devries “Personhood” bill”, which would redefine a person as mankind at any stage of development. His bill (HB 302) is a constitutional amendment that would criminalize abortion in Montana. In order for it to pass, two-thirds of the legislature would have to vote in favor of the proposed change. Personhood Amendment Passes House
Republicans need 44 votes in the Senate for it to pass, and with 20 Senate Democrats, this bill is expected to fail once the Senate votes on it.
13.– SB 100 by Sen. Keith Regier (R-Kalispell) Under this bill the doctor would be required to offer a view of the ultrasound to a woman before performing an abortion. Proponents of the bill describe this as “informed consent.”
Passes On Second Reading
Republican Sen. Keith Regier, brought forward legislation that would require doctors to ask pregnant women seeking an abortion if they want to listen to a fetal heartbeat or view ultrasound images. SB 100 passed on the floor of the Senate on second reading and is expected to pass on third reading before moving to the House.
14.–Rep. Funk Brings The FAMLI Act to House Business & Labor
Rep. Funk presented HB 208, also known as “The FAMLI Act”, to the House Business & Labor committee. The FAMLI Act would create a paid family leave insurance plan in Montana. This would help provide financial support for Montanans who leave work to care for someone in their family and for workers who are dealing with serious health problems.
Only five states in the nation and Washington DC provide paid family leave for workers who need time off to take care of family members. This bill would help women in Montana return to their jobs and is a great step towards addressing the equal pay gap.
House Bill 465 would add sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression to the Montana Human Rights Act, giving LGBTQ+ Montanans the opportunity to earn a living and take care of their families without the fear of being fired or denied housing.
The Capitol Switchboard is open weekdays from 7:30 am to 5 pm. Call your legislators today at (406)444-4800, or send them a message through this online form
–GALLATIN VALLEY FRIENDS OF CUBA KICKS OFF 2019 CULTURAL AND SOCIAL EVENTS TO FURTHER TRAVEL AND DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS Contact Jan Strout,
Susan and Kelly