Weekly Update - 3/15/2019

We are in the first full week back from transmittal break. Several bills that we are tracking received second hearings. 
 
Bills we support:
 
HB 21: This bill would create a Missing Person specialist, based in the state Dept. of Justice, who would work closely with local, tribal, state, and federal law enforcement authorities on missing person cases. The specialist will fill a current gap in our Dept. of Justice and provide the needed support for the current crisis of murder and missing women and children within Indigenous communities in our state. HB 21 received its second hearing this week in Senate Judiciary and is awaiting a vote from committee members. 
 
HB 54: This bill would create a standard for all law enforcement to accept a missing person report, which is often stalled when there is confusion regarding jurisdiction. This bill was tabled in committee last week, but on Thursday received enough votes to move onto the Senate floor!
 
HB 155: This bill would repeal the statewide ban on switchblade knives and clean up our criminal code. This bill was voted unanimously out of committee this week!  
 
SB 30: This bill would expand Medicaid coverage to include behavioral health peer support services, which are a vital way to support people who are recovering from substance use disorders or other behavioral health issues. Increasing access to these services and making it Medicaid reimbursable will improve outcomes for people who are in our probation and parole system. SB 30 received its second hearing in House Human Services and is awaiting a vote from committee members. 
 
SB 168: This bill would eliminate questions on job applications seeking to collect information on an individual’s past criminal record, which would combat bias that formerly incarcerated face in the initial stages of the job application process. This bill received its second hearing in House State Admin and is awaiting a vote from committee members.
 
HB 425: This bill would lift the sunset on Medicaid Expansion, which is set to expire on July 1, 2019. Medicaid expansion provides crucial coverage for substance use treatment and mental healthcare for low-income Montanans and those returning to their communities’ post-incarceration. Having access to treatment and healthcare reduces recidivism rates for individuals on probation and parole. This bill would allow Medicaid expansion to continue, a program that currently provides healthcare to 1 in 10 Montanans. 
 
Bills we oppose:
 
HB 534: This bill would significantly increase penalties for 5th and subsequent DUI. Increasing penalties will not deter crime and instead potentially increase the criminalization of people with serious addiction issues. The more than 2.7 million dollar fiscal impact of this proposed legislation is not a responsible use of Montana’s budget and should be used for more addiction treatment services in Montana. This bill received its first hearing in House Judiciary committee. 
 
HB 238: This bill would expand the punishment for those who are convicted of false reporting of a crime, creating a penalty for those who falsely report a felony to be charge with a felony and serve up to 10 years in prison. This bill proposes a disproportionate punishment for those who mistakenly or intentionally misreport a crime. This bill conflates violent crimes with the false reporting of those crimes and those two things are simply not the same. HB 238 received its second hearing this week in Senate Judiciary and is awaiting a vote by the committee. 
 
HB 500: This bill, named the Montana Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is an unconstitutional ban of abortions after 20 weeks and seeks to establish a legal framework that could ban abortions of any kind in Montana. This bill is an attack on a person’s rightful access to an abortion. 
 
HB 658: This bill seeks to extend Medicaid Expansion with work requirements and other restrictions, which would result in tens of thousands losing healthcare coverage. This bill would significantly impact those on probation and parole who benefit from substance use and mental healthcare and who need these services to successfully reintegrate into their community. HB 658 received its first hearing in House Human Services.
 

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