The Montana Legislature adjourned sine die late Tuesday night. The 68th Legislative session was marked by high-profile fights over Montanans’ rights, the state constitution, and the removal of a Democratic Representative from the floor of the House. Despite the national spotlight on Republican leadership’s radical legislation and extreme political stunts, Montana Democrats worked hard to deliver several priority bills to the Governor’s desk.
Following Sine Die, Legislative Democratic Leadership held a press conference to review the 68th session and to highlight some of the key bills Democrats delivered for working families from the minority.
Through tireless advocacy and hard work, Rep. Laura Smith (D-Helena) got her “troubled teen” industry accountability bill, HB 218, passed with strong bipartisan support.
SB 516, a bill to require insurance to cover fertility preservation for Montanas diagnosed with cancer and brought by Sen. Jen Gross (D-Billings), sailed through both chambers with little opposition.
Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy (D-Box Elder) championed an effort to provide for a Montana Indian Child Welfare Act, HB 317, protecting Native American children in Montana from being removed from tribal families and communities.
In other wins for the safety and health of Montana children, Rep. Paul Tuss (D-Havre) successfully amended HB 5 to provide $3.7 million for lead remediation in K-12 schools – a historic direct investment making school drinking water safer statewide. Rep. Alice Buckley (D-Bozeman) passed HB 648 to invest critical funds in Best Beginning child care scholarships for working Montana families. Senate Minority Whip Shannon O’Brien’s (D-Missoula) SB 70 expanded the Quality Educator’s Loan program to reduce the burden of paying off student loans by Montana teachers.
Democrats fought to protect Montanans’ right to bodily autonomy, including HB 302, brought by House Minority Caucus Chair Alice Buckley (D-Bozeman) to allow Montanans access to 12 months of birth control and ensure there is no gap in coverage.
Rep. Jonathan Karlen (D-Missoula) worked with Senator Minority Leader Pat Flowers (D-Belgrade) to pass legislation, HB 889, to ensure mobile homeowners have the same property rights other Montanans enjoy.
Democrats strengthened Montanans’ constitutional rights this session: Sen. Janet Ellis’ (D-Helena) SB 232 will require deadlines for public records requests, enforcing our constitutional Right to Know.
At the press conference following adjournment, Montana Democrats criticized the Republicans for their radical agenda, their failure to deliver any meaningful or permanent solutions for working families, and their spectacle of undemocratic political stunts.
“Republicans spent this entire session whittling away at our fundamental rights – attacking our Montana Constitution, our right to privacy, right to representation, and right to free expression,” said House Minority Leader Kim Abbott (D-Helena). “Montana Democrats fought against these attacks all session, and we will keep fighting going forward to protect Montanans’ right to live our lives in freedom.”
“The Majority provided no immediate solutions to the housing crisis, no relief for renters, and our small businesses will continue to suffer and shutter their doors. Instead of investing in working families, the majority frittered away two billion dollars in surplus on tax handouts to their wealthy friends,” said Senate Minority Leader Pat Flowers (D-Belgrade). “Montanans want to live in a state where they can make a fair wage and afford to raise their family. Democrats managed to hold the line on some of the Majority’s bad ideas. Now, it’s up to Montanans to hold Republicans accountable.”
GOP Leadership brought national attention to the Montana Legislature this session for their radical, extremist legislation, political stunts and underhanded dealings. They wasted time with an unserious TikTok ban, attempted to subvert the will of Montana voters by meddling with the 2024 Senate election, engaged in excessive political grandstanding, and blocked Montanans’ Constitutionally protected rights to freely participate in our democratic process.
Meanwhile, Democrats delivered bipartisan solutions on behalf of Montana working families who need help now. It’s time for the Governor to sign these pieces of legislation. It would be a great disservice to all Montanans to not allow these carefully crafted, debated, and vetted bills to become law.