Legislative Update from KFGM and KBMF: Child Sex Trafficking, Montana Humans Rights Act, and More

Helena, Montana

Helena, Montana

House Bill 549 would revise child sex trafficking laws and revise the definition of “child abuse and neglect” to include child sex trafficking. The Bill would also ensure that victims of child sex trafficking receive access to specialized services. The bill was introduced by Kimberly Dudik, a Democrat from House District 94, which covers parts of Missoula. Representative Dudik introduced the bill during a hearing of the house judiciary committee on February 22nd.

The bill received support from the Montana Family Foundation and the Montana Coalition against domestic and sexual violence.

On March 1, House bill 549 passed the House with a vote of 91 to 8 and was transmitted to the Senate where it awaits a hearing.

House Bill 465 would generally revise the Montana Human Rights Act to add protections for gender identity or expression and sexual orientation under the laws prohibiting discrimination. The bill would define “gender identity or expression” and “sexual orientation.” Representative Kim Abbott, a Democrat from House District 83, which covers parts of Helena, introduced the bill to the House Judiciary Committee on February 22nd.

SK Rossi of the ACLU of Montana added support of the bill and offered detailed information about the logistics of extending protections to individuals based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Kelly Twoteth, of the Indigenous Coalition of Organizers spoke in support of the bill

Additionally, the bill was supported by the Montana Association of Christians, the Montana Interfaith Network, and the Montana Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics.

The bill was opposed by the Montana Family Foundation, the Montana Catholic Conference, Big Sky Christian Center, Montana Pastor’s Network, Christian Association of Montana, and Pure Image Ministries.

House Bill 465 was tabled in the House Judiciary Committee on February 27th.

Senate Bill 313 would revise enforcement of discrimination laws including investigation and hearing timelines. The bill would also require a hearing officer to be an attorney. Nate McConnell, a Democrat from Senate District 48, which covers parts of the City of Missoula and Missoula County, introduced the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 27th.

Pat Fox, of Montana Trial Lawyers, lent support to the bill and emphasized the impact of current time periods on both plaintiffs and defendants

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 50 to 0 in the Senate and was transmitted to the House on February 27th. The bill awaits a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 30, introduced on Episode 2 of this legislative update series, would allow certified behavioral health peer support services to qualify as medical assistance and therefore receive reimbursement under the Montana Medicaid program.  Currently, Peer Support Services in the state are funded through two federal block grants. Jen Gross, a democrat from Senate District 25 covering part of Billings, introduced the bill to the Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Safety committee on January 23rd.

On February 27, the bill passed the Senate with a vote of 36-14 and was transmitted to the House. Senate bill 30 awaits a hearing in the House Human Services Committee, currently scheduled for March 12th.