Montana's legislative session is a whirlwind. Every other year, legislators and advocates come together for 90 days to create laws that – we hope – will make Montana a better place to live, work, and raise a family.
The 2023 Legislative Session is already half way through, and already we've beaten back too many assaults on Montanans’ civil rights. During the first forty-five days of session, politicians delivered on their promises to restrict Montanans' civil rights and liberties with attempts to limit access to abortion services, politicize our nonpartisan judiciary, and target Transgender people and those who love and support them.
Our team of lobbyists and advocates have responded to nearly 200 bills in the first half of session alone. The majority of these bills are absolutely unconstitutional and were designed specifically to remove and restrict the rights of Montanans – all in the name of out-of-state special interests of politicians and corporate extremists.
Thanks to our team, we have been able to:
- Maintain aid in dying, stopping any bills to restrict this right,
- Continue the stay on the death penalty in Montana, ensuring existing court decisions, remain the standard,
- Push back against an expansive effort to dismantle 2017 criminal legal reforms and expand criminalization in Montana,
- Provide input on amendment language to strengthen our proactive bills,
- Build and expand relationships with Tribal political leaders and the broader Indigenous community,
- Foster relationships with legislators from all political parties,
- And so much more!
Although the legislature continues to harm Montana's most vulnerable communities, the ACLU of Montana is excited the legislative movement of two bills sponsored by Representative Jonathan Windy Boy – HB 317, the Montana Indian Child Welfare Act, and HB 338, enforcing the Indian Education For All Act.
We believe that whether it's through the education system or family regulation system, we have a responsibility to respect, honor, and uplift Indigenous communities, culture, and history. These two bills will have tremendous impacts on Montana's youth, preserving Indigenous culture for generations to come. The Montana Indian Child Welfare Act will keep Native families together by preventing the unwarranted removal of children from their homes and keeping children connected to their families and tribal culture when possible. While passing a bill to enforce the Indian Education For All Act will ensure that all of Montana's public school students gain a basic understanding of local history and information about Indigenous peoples in this region.
Over the next few weeks, we will redouble our efforts to stop the bills that made it through a first chamber, including attempts to ban gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth - SB99 - and expand the prosecution of kids as young as 12 as adults - HB614. Our team will also be closely monitoring any constitutional amendments or newly introduced legislation extreme politicians try to sneak through.
We remain committed to spending the remainder of the 2023 Legislative Session fighting to stop all harmful legislation and protecting our free speech and civil liberties, but we will need you with us. Every phone call that you make, every email that you send, every piece of testimony you give, every social media post you share matters. We can stop these assaults on our rights, together.
Thank you for joining us, and for fighting alongside us.