Legislative Update for February 16

The pace of bill hearings has picked up significantly and will continue through this week as the Legislature approaches the transmittal deadline for general bills on February 27. Check Facebook and our website for more updates during the week.

Niki Zupanic testifying

Highlights from February 9 - 15

The House Judiciary Committee heard three pro-privacy bills on Monday morning.  We supported all three.

HB 333 by Rep. Schwaderer (R - Superior) revises laws related to publicly operated cameras to prevent misuse and to limit retention of images. HB 344 by Rep. Zolnikov (R - Billings) generally prohibits the use of automatic license plate scanners.  HB 345, also by Rep. Zolnikov, restricts the use of data collected by a vehicle event data recorder (sometimes called a car "black box"). 

HBs 344 and 345 were passed by the committee and will be heard on the House Floor this week.

We opposed HB 37 by Rep. Monforton (R - Bozeman), which was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning. This bill would change our rules of evidence so that prosecutors could now introduce evidence of prior acts in an attempt to prove a defendant's guilt in certain sexual and domestic violence cases. The bill was tabled in committee.

Two committees heard bills on each side of the right to die debate on Tuesday morning. We opposed HB 328 by Rep. Tschida (R - Missoula), which would undo the protections in the Baxter decision and would allow doctors to be prosecuted for homicide if they offer aid in dying to a patient. We supported SB 202 by Sen. Dick Barrett (D - Missoula), which would provide a framework of regulations and protections for physician aid in dying. The House Judiciary Committee passed HB 328, while SB 202 failed on a tie 6-6 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. You can video of the anti-aid in dying bill hearing here and the pro-aid in dying bill hearing here.

We supported SB 224 by Senator Wolken (D – Missoula). This bill will create a commission to comprehensively review sentencing laws and practices and to make recommendations to the next legislature. We were joined by the Department of Corrections, the Department of Justice, the Office of Public Defender, the court administrator, county attorneys, Disability Rights Montana, NAMI-Montana, and Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, among others. You can listen to audio of the hearing here.

We supported HB 195 by Rep. McConnell (D – Missoula) to make it easier for prosecutors to enter into pre-trial diversion agreements with defendants. The bill was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be heard on the Senate Floor this week.

We supported HB 370 by Rep. "Doc" Moore (R - Missoula) to repeal the death penalty. The House Judiciary Committee heard this bill on Friday morning. The bill will repeal the death penalty and replace it with life without possibility of parole. We expect the committee to vote on the bill this week.

We also supported HB 412 by Rep. Zolnikov on Friday morning in House Judiciary. This bill provides that minors may not be charged or prosecuted for “minor in possession” if the minor seeks medical care for him or herself or another. More than 20 other states have adopted similar “Good Samaritan” laws that encourage people to seek medical care for themselves and others without fear of prosecution for drug or alcohol possession.

We also support HB 43 by Rep. MacDonald (D – Billings) to allow the Governor greater latitude to consider clemency requests (like Barry Beach’s). The bill was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee at the same time as the death penalty repeal bill.

Bills ACLU of Montana is Testifying on this Week
The House Judiciary Committee will hear HB 425 by Rep. Monforton (R – Bozeman) to amend our state constitution to define “person” to include fetuses from the moment of conception. We oppose this amendment. The House Judiciary Committee will hear this bill on Monday morning.

We support HB 456 by Rep. Peppers to add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions for which a patient may use medical marijuana to treat. The House Human Services Committee will hear this bill on Monday afternoon.

The House Judiciary Committee will hear HB 463 by Rep. McCarthy (D – Billings) on Tuesday morning. We support this bill to revise our civil asset forfeiture laws.

On Wednesday morning, the House Judiciary Committee will bear HB 477 by Rep. Gerald Bennett (R – Libby). We oppose this bill to criminalize physician aid in dying.

Also on Wednesday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear SB 316 by Senator Webb (R – Billings). We support this bill to provide greater protections before a person is transferred from the Montana State Hospital to a Department of Corrections facility. This bill was introduced at the request of Disability Rights Montana in response to situations at issue in the current litigation by our organizations.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will also hear HB 207 by Rep. Zolnikov (R – Billings). We support this bill to protect media source information from warrantless law enforcement searches. The bill updates our current media shield law to clarify that data held by a third party – such as emails held on a server – is protected.

Rep. Zolnikov has three more pro-privacy bills up for hearing on Thursday morning in House Judiciary Committee. We support HB 443, HB 444, and HB 445, which will provide greater protection from warrantless searches for electronic communications, such as email, and other data stored on electronic devices.

We strongly support HB 490 by Rep. Eck (D – Helena) to restrict the use of solitary confinement. This bill was brought at our request to address the overuse of solitary confinement and to prohibit the use of solitary confinement for juveniles and inmates with serious mental illness. The bill will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday morning.

On Friday morning, the House Judiciary Committee will hear HB 497 by Rep. Bryce Bennett (D – Missoula) to provide protection from prosecution for drug and alcohol possession for people who are seeking medical care for themselves or others. Like HB 412 above, this bill would encourage people to get medical care when needed by removing the threat of prosecution under certain circumstances.

And finally, we oppose HB 433 by Rep. Berglee (R - Joliet), which will be heard Friday afternoon in the House Education Committee. This bill would provide tax credits for private school tuition, including tuition paid to sectarian schools. We oppose diverting tax dollars to indirectly subsidize sectarian schools.

All bills we are watching this week:

(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 448                       Revise right to know laws related to attorney   feesKirk Wagoner  (R)   HD 75
(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 447                       Revise right to participate laws related to   attorney feesKirk Wagoner  (R)   HD 75
(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 425                       Constitutional amendment to define personMatthew   Monforton  (R) HD 69
(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 424                       Revise public meeting laws related to the   Montana supreme courtMatthew   Monforton  (R) HD 69
(S) Business,   Labor, and Economic Affairs10:00 AMHB 78                         Clarify vehicle owner's privacy rights for   event data recordersRyan Lynch  (D)   HD 76
(H)   Appropriations3:00 PMHB 89                         Generally revise human trafficking lawsKimberly Dudik  (D)   HD 94
(H) Human   Services3:00 PMHB 456                       Add PTSD to the list of debilitating medical   conditions for marijuana useRae Peppers  (D)   HD 41
(H) Human   Services3:00 PMHB 468                       Revising laws on period of commitment or   treatment of developmentally disabledGordon Pierson  (D)   HD 78
(S) Public   Health, Welfare and Safety3:00 PMSB 9                          Allow sharing of certain health care information   with law enforcementRoger Webb  (R)   SD 23


(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 426                       Revise   attorney-client privilege laws providing a crime-fraud exceptionMatthew   Monforton  (R) HD 69
(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 410                       Generally   revise laws on the exploitation of vulnerable personsJeff Essmann  (R)   HD 54
(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 463                       Revise laws   related to asset forfeitureKelly McCarthy  (D)   HD 49


(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 482                       Revise laws   related to who must register as a sex offenderChuck Hunter  (D)   HD 83
(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 457                       Constitutional   referendum to revise concealed weapons lawMatthew   Monforton  (R) HD 69
(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 477                       Clarify offense   of aiding or soliciting suicideGerald (Jerry)   Bennett  (R) HD 1
(H) State   Administration8:00 AMHJ 14                         Interim study   on eyewitness identification policiesFrank Garner  (R)   HD 7
(S) Judiciary8:00 AMSB 315                       Make a third   DUI a felony offenseRoger Webb  (R)   SD 23
(S) Judiciary8:00 AMSB 316                       Generally   revise laws re when certain individuals may be transferred to DOCRoger Webb  (R)   SD 23
(S) Judiciary9:00 AMHB 197                       Provide for an   enhanced sentence for assault on a pregnant womanKeith Regier  (R)   HD 4
(S) Judiciary9:00 AMHB 207                       Prohibiting   disclosure of media info from electronic communications servicesDaniel Zolnikov  (R)   HD 45
(H) Education3:00 PMHB 501                       Revise laws   related to student data collection and privacyDebra Lamm  (R)   HD 60
(H) Human   Services3:00 PMHB 507                       Revising laws   relating to investigations of abuse at MT Developmental CenterGordon Pierson  (D)   HD 78
(H) Human   Services3:00 PMHB 513                       Clarify rules   of evidence for mental health professional-client privilegeAndrew Person  (D)   HD 96
(S) State   Administration3:00 PMSB 267                       Revising   campaign finance laws relating to corporations and unionsSue Malek  (D)   SD 46
(S) State   Administration3:00 PMSB 289                       Revise campaign   finance lawsDuane Ankney  (R)   SD 20


(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 490                       Providing   restrictions for the use of long-term solitary confinementJennifer Eck  (D)   HD 79
(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 445                       Requiring   search warrant for gov access to electronic devicesDaniel Zolnikov  (R)   HD 45
(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 444                       Generally   revising laws related to electronic communicationsDaniel Zolnikov  (R)   HD 45
(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 491                       Generally   revise the 24/7 sobriety program lawsSteve Lavin  (R)   HD 8
(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 443                       Generally   revise privacy lawsDaniel Zolnikov  (R)   HD 45


(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 497                       Providing   immunity from certain prosecutions for person seeking medical careBryce Bennett  (D)   HD 91
(H) Judiciary8:00 AMHB 397                       Revise adoption   laws related to release of birth certificates to adopteesKimberly Dudik  (D)   HD 94
(S) Judiciary9:00 AMHB 28                         Require parole   hearings to be video and audio recordedJennifer Eck  (D)   HD 79
(H) Education3:00 PMHB 433                       Providing a   tuition tax credit for K-12 educationSeth Berglee  (R)   HD 58