Legislative update: March 20 - 24

This is a big week for ACLU supported and opposed legislation! Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on the which bills are moving, and respond to our ACLU Action Alerts!

Opposed by the ACLU

SB 329 - Adopt the Montana Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

This unconstitutional ban on abortion after 20 weeks is making its way to the Senate Floor. Disguised as an attempt to protect “the lives of unborn children,” this bill compromises women’s health and privacy and criminalizes abortion by creating serious legal ramifications for providers, including felony charges for physicians. Unconstitutional, manipulative, and dangerous - this legislation has no place in our state.

SB 329 will head to the Senate Floor for Second Reading this week. Call your senators and tell them to keep anti-choice legislation out of Montana! Vote NO on SB 329!

SB 97 – Prohibit application of foreign law in state courts

Senator Keith Regier (R) has picked up this torch from last session, seeking to prohibit the application of foreign laws in our courts. Unfortunately, this innocuously named piece of legislation is far darker that the title implies. SB 97 is nothing more than Islamophobia shrouded in the idea that our judges need guidance on which laws apply in our courts and our constitution needs protection.  Regardless of whether the bill title says “foreign law,” proponents really mean Sharia law. This legislation does not reflect Montana values and its passage will only increase anti-Muslim sentiment in the Legislature and the state.

ACTION ALERT: SB 97 - will be heard on the House Floor Monday, March 20th at 1pm! Join us at the House Gallery of the Montana State Capitol at 12:30pm or show your opposition by calling your representatives and telling them to vote NO on SB 97!

SB 571 - Create offense of concealing a person's identity

Rep. Barry Usher wants to make it a felony to hide one’s identity while protesting. While this new felony attaches only to times when a person is committing a crime AND concealing their face, the intent is obvious - to criminalize protesters. Peacefully demonstrating is a crucial and historical exercise in free speech and holding our government and institutions accountable. Both protesting and covering one’s face are protected 1st Amendment expressions.

SB 571 makes its way to House Judiciary on Wednesday. Call your representatives and tell them to vote NO on SB 571!

Supported by the ACLU

SB 71 - Provide for an intervention hearing for parolees

SB 71, sponsored by Senator Gross (D), will provide intervention hearings for parolees when they violate the conditions of their supervision. These informal hearings allow offenders who present no threat to public safety the opportunity to come into compliance before a formal revocation hearing. Current state statute already grants this opportunity to probationers and extending this proven preventive measure to parolees will help reduce recidivism & alleviate pressure on our prisons and county jails. It is no wonder the bill saw unanimous support in the Senate!

SB 71 has its first reading in House Judiciary Monday, March 20th and the Committee will likely vote again later on in the week! Call your representatives and tell them to vote YES on SB 71!

SB 90 – Remove mandatory jail for driving on suspended or revoked license

This bill sponsored by Senator Swandal (R) would remove mandatory jail time for people driving on a suspended or revoked license, a non-violent offense that should not mean automatic jail time – especially for those who are just trying to get to work or the grocery store.

SB 90 will be heard by House Judiciary Monday, March 20th. Call your representatives and tell them to help lower incarceration rates and vote YES on SB 90!

SB 26, SB 17 & SB 29 - Law & Justice Interim Committee Bills on Sexual Assault Consent Statutes

Senators Swandal, Malek, and Sands will have a package of bills heard by the House Judiciary Committee this Friday. These bills are the product of the Law and Justice Interim Committee, which met periodically over the course of 18 months to study sexual violence and draft recommendations for updating Montana’s outdated laws on the issue of consent in sexual assault crimes. These crimes infringe on a survivor’s fundamental right to dignity and bodily autonomy, and it is the responsibility of our government to ensure that our criminal justice system provides adequate safeguards for victims and defendants. SB 17 (Swandal) & SB 29 (Sands) passed unanimously in the Senate.  SB 26 (Malek) also received bipartisan support.

All three have seen amendments over the past 18 months and have inspired important discussion and debate that we guarantee will continue as they head to House Judiciary this Friday.