Legislative update: April 18 - 21

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!

Supported by the ACLU

SJ 25 - Interim study of use of solitary confinement

SJ 25 sponsored by Senator Roger Webb requests an interim study on the extent of the use of solitary confinement in state and county institutions in Montana. Solitary confinement is the most expensive form of incarceration and the least effective in rehabilitation, and the ACLU has been working for many years on finding better alternatives for our state institutions. This study, which focuses on current practices used with juveniles and individuals with mental illness, would allow for a deeper investigation and understanding and an opportunity to review the findings and make legislative recommendations before the 66th Legislature.

SJ 25 passed 3rd Reading in the Senate 40 - 10 and was referred back to House Judiciary. Call your representatives and urge them to support this crucial opportunity to look deeper into our state’s criminal justice system.

HB 133 - Generally revise sentencing laws

HB 133, sponsored by Representative McConnell, is a much needed overhaul to Montana’s sentencing laws, reducing jail and prison time for non-violent and first time offenses and giving many first time, low-level offenders a second chance to stay out of the criminal justice system.

Last Thursday HB 133 passed 3rd Reading in the Senate 36 - 14 but was sent back to the House with amendments this afternoon. The reading has not been scheduled, but call your representatives TODAY and tell them to vote YES on this important bill!

Opposed by 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 was heard on the Senate floor today where they approved a House amendment that states that if both SB 329 and SB 282 pass, 329 will be void. The bill passed 2nd Reading as amended 43 - 6.

SB 282 – 24 Week Abortion Ban

This unconstitutional piece of anti-reproductive rights legislation is sponsored by Senator Olszewski. Unfortunately, it flies in the face of over 40 years of SCOTUS precedent on the right of women to access abortion services. The Supreme Court has found again and again that states are prevented from setting a viability marker and that viability should only be determined by a doctor on a case-by-case basis. Sen. Olszewski’s bill also makes no exception for post-viability abortion when the life of the mother is at risk, another patently unconstitutional provision. Though the sponsor says that SB 282 is about protecting women, it is really the latest in a long list of attempts to make abortion almost impossible to access.

SB 282 went before the House last Tuesday for 3rd Reading where it passed 32 - 18. It is currently in the final preparation process and will soon head to Governor Bullock’s desk where we anticipate a veto.

SJ 15 – Anti-LGBT resolution preventing equality in the provision of legal services

The American Bar Association has adopted a new Model Rule of Professional Conduct that would prohibit discrimination in the provision of legal services, including discrimination against LGBT people. Senator David Howard has filed a resolution in the Senate opposing adoption of a similar rule in Montana, a move being considered by the Montana Supreme Court. Senator Howard is using the legislative process to bully the Montana Supreme Court and to prevent equal treatment of LGBT Montanans in our justice system.

SJ 15 passed 3rd Reading in the House last Monday 58 - 41 and is in the final preparation process. We hope that Governor Bullock will stand with LGBT Montanans and veto SJ 15 when it comes across his desk.

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