The Montana Legislature. A four-month bustling political event, when the usually quiet Capitol building is suddenly alive with debate and democracy.
From tracking bills to figuring out how to contact your legislators, Montana’s legislative process can seem impenetrable and unnavigable. Yet each legislative session, bills become laws, which in turn affect our way of life here in Montana. Through it all, we must remember that our legislators are accountable to us – their constituents. Every one of us is a powerful part of our democracy. As somebody said to one of our young volunteers as he walked into the Capitol building, “Don’t forget, legislators are here working for you.”
Having a day where Montanans come together at the Capitol to discuss issues and speak with legislators can make the legislative process seem less intimidating. This year, at the ACLU of Montana Lobby Day, we had an incredible opportunity to uplift the energy, commitment, and stories of Montanans who care about civil rights and liberties.
Despite the subzero weather and treacherous roads, 15 community advocates arrived at the Capitol full of questions and eager to start the work. We spent the morning digging into the ACLU of Montana’s priority issues this session, from criminal justice reform to Medicaid expansion. Then, people broke into small groups and headed into the hallways to track down their legislators and share their stories and perspectives.
Conversations between legislators and community members are some of the most impactful moments happening at the Capitol. Civil rights and liberties are nonpartisan issues. We work with legislators from both political parties to push for policies that protect and expand the civil rights and liberties of all Montanans. At our Lobby Day, one group spoke with a legislator who shared that while he doesn’t agree with one of our issues, he supports many others.
Lobby days like this matter. Showing up and raising your voice is how we all can contribute to change. Lobby days are also a way for people to get involved in our democracy and ensure that the voices and stories of Montanans from all walks of life are heard. The Montanans who joined us for the ACLU of Montana 2019 Lobby Day are a huge part in ensuring civil rights and liberties for all Montanans. We’re so glad you were able to join us!