The 2021 legislative session was fast, furious, and jam-packed with bills that will affect Montanans’ lives for years to come. We’ve laid out some of the most important bills that came out of this session and created a scorecard to see how Montana’s legislators voted on these issues. Remember: if our elected officials aren’t working toward the Montana we want to see, it’s up to us to hold them accountable.

Table of Contents:

LGBTQ2S+ Rights | Climate Justice | Voting Rights | Economic Justice

Master House Scorecard | Master Senate Scorecard | Who is my legislator?

Discrimination by Design: The Montana Legislature’s Campaign Against LGBTQ2S+ Equality

Over the course of this session, we engaged with hundreds of LGBTQ2S+ Montanans and allies who fought alongside us to move towards a Montana where everyone can live and thrive free of discrimination. We were hit with a slew of bills targeting LGBTQ2S+ Montanans, especially trans people, and our work is far from over.

HB112: Ban Trans Youth from School Sports

  • HB112 bans trans athletes from participating on sports teams that align with their gender at Montana schools. It prioritizes baseless discrimination over the wellbeing of our state’s children, and risks hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for education to push a political agenda that Montanans overwhelmingly spoke out against.
  • Status: Signed by Governor

HB427: Restrict Healthcare for Trans Youth

  • HB427 would have prohibited certain gender-affirming healthcare for transgender and gender-nonconforming minors, ignoring the fact that gender affirmation surgery on minors is exceedingly rare. This bill would have allowed for some procedures to be performed on cisgender but not transgender minors, and would have barred transgender patients from receiving or even being referred to another doctor for lifesaving care. 
  • Status: Died in Process

SB215: Allow “Religious Exemption” for Discrimination

  • SB215 makes it legal for any person, business, or other entity to claim “religious exemption” to civil and criminal laws, including nondiscrimination ordinances. This bill places religious freedom above all other constitutional and human rights. 
  • Status: Signed by Governor

SB280: Increase Barriers to Accurate ID for Trans People

  • SB280 requires proof of gender transition surgery to be presented in court in order for a person to change the sex on their birth certificate. This violates medical privacy, ignores the reality that the majority of trans people never get surgery for a variety of reasons, and will only make life more difficult for trans Montanans. 
  • Status: Signed by Governor
Click here to see how your legislator voted on these bills.

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The Right to a Clean and Healthful Environment is a Montana Value.

It’s even written into our state constitution! Sadly, during the 2021 Legislative Session we saw bills designed to benefit large corporations, continue our reliance on fossil fuels, and attack public lands access. We’re proud to keep fighting alongside Montanans young and old for a cleaner, safer, more equitable climate future. True solutions to the current climate crisis require addressing basic human needs and inequities. Our planet can’t wait.

HB273: End Public Input on Nuclear Facilities

  • HB273 overturns a long-standing initiative known as I-80, which gave Montanans the right to vote on any proposed nuclear facilities in the state. Repealing this initiative severely weakens public input on whether Montana pursues nuclear energy, and instead will force Montanans to deal with the repercussions whether they want a nuclear facility or not.
  • Status: Signed by Governor

HB320: Enable the Transfer of Public Lands

  • HB320 would have laid the groundwork for public lands to be sold off to private interests. If federally-managed public lands were transferred into state management, state agencies would not have the funding or capacity to manage them. As a result, these agencies could be forced to sell them off. In the long run, HB320 would have meant less public access, loss of wildlife habitat, and fewer protections for cultural sites.
  • Status: Died in Senate Natural Resources Committee

HB481: Penalties for Protesting

  • Part of a nationwide effort to intimidate climate advocates and stifle fossil fuel protests in the wake of the #NoDAPL movement, HB481 adds severe penalties for those convicted of trespass and/or vandalism of energy infrastructure — activities that are already illegal. The vaguely-written bill also hurts organizations found to be in support of protests. HB481 has major implications for Indigenous resistance to fossil fuel development on their lands.
  • Status: Signed by Governor

HB576: Eliminate Renewable Energy Programs

  • By law, NorthWestern Energy was required to invest in Community Renewable Energy Projects (CREP), although it had consistently failed to comply. HB576 eliminates the CREP program, letting NorthWestern Energy off the hook for $2.5 million it owes to tribal and low income energy assistance programs. It also eliminates the Montana Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which was intended to encourage development of renewable energy across Montana.
  • Status: Signed by Governor

SB260: Limit Environmental Regulations

  • SB260 would have forced the state government to pay developers anytime a regulation decreases the value of a property over a certain threshold. This would have forced the state to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in claims, ultimately discouraging regulations that keep Montanans safe, corporations in check, and provide for a clean and healthful environment.
  • Status: Died in Process

SB379: Handouts for NorthWestern Energy

  • SB379 would have handed a blank check to NorthWestern Energy shareholders for investments in the outdated Colstrip power plant without any scrutiny, while driving up energy bills for nearly 400,000 Montana households. Rep. Kelly Kortum called it “the most brazen corporate handout the legislature has seen in a generation.” 
  • Status: Died in House Energy, Technology and Federal Relations Committee

NorthWestern Energy (NWE) had a heavy hand in the 2021 Legislative Session, attempting to decrease oversight from the Public Service Commission — their own regulatory body — and put even more money into wealthy investors’ pocketbooks while propping up coal-fired energy. As other energy companies turn to cleaner, cheaper power, NWE is stuck in the past — and sticking its hands (and lobbying power) in our democracy. Rest assured, we will continue to hold NWE accountable for their actions.

Click here to see how your legislator voted on these bills.

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A Nationwide Attack on Voting Rights

During the 2021 Legislative Session, many of our elected officials attempted to move us backwards and  create more barriers to voting. These efforts are symptomatic of a nationwide attack on voting rights, aimed to disenfranchise voters based on the identities we hold, what we look like, and where we live. At FMT, we believe every eligible Montanans should have the freedom to exercise the most fundamental right of our democracy — the right to vote. Our voices matter.

HB176: End Same-Day Voter Registration

  • HB176 ends late voter registration on the Friday before Election Day, eliminating same-day voter registration (SDR). This bill goes directly against the will of Montanans, who voted overwhelmingly to keep SDR when it was on the ballot in 2014. During the 2020 general election, 3,352 voters used this service, demonstrating the harmful impact this law will have on the future of elections in Montana.
  • Status: Signed by Governor

SB169: Enact Stricter Voter ID Laws

  • SB169 changes our current voter ID system, instating stricter ID requirements and making it more difficult for Montanans to vote. This bill specifically disenfranchises student voters, who will no longer be able to use a student ID alone to register and receive a ballot. It also targets low-income Montanans by prohibiting the use of a voter registration card — currently the only free form of voter identification.
  • Status: Signed by Governor
Click here to see how your legislator voted on these bills.

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A Step Backwards from Equity in Montana

During the 2021 Legislative Session we were introduced to plenty of legislation that will create more barriers to an equitable Montana. Many efforts to move the needle towards a more economically just world unfortunately failed to pass.

HB259: Prohibit Inclusionary Zoning

  • HB259 prohibits inclusionary zoning (IZ), an affordable housing practice that requires new residential developments to include a certain percentage of affordable homes. Bozeman and Whitefish already have IZ ordinances in place, and HB259 will revoke these efforts. It’s no secret — we have an affordable housing problem in Montana, and HB259 eliminates one of the best tools we have to address this issue. We believe local governments should be able to determine what’s best for their communities.
  • Status: Signed by Governor

SB99: Limit Sex Education

  • SB99 bans abortion providers from teaching sexual and reproductive education in Montana schools. Reproductive healthcare professionals are the best suited experts to provide sexual education to young people. This bill is a targeted attack on Planned Parenthood of Montana.
  • Status: Signed by Governor

SB100: Increase Barriers to Critical Public Services

  • In the middle of a public health crisis, SB100 would have made it more difficult for Montanans to qualify for public assistance programs such as Medicaid, CHIP and SNAP. This would have put 22,000 low-income Montanans in jeopardy of losing vital coverage and services, even if they were eligible for these programs. SB100 would have disproportionately affected the most vulnerable communities in our state, leaving serious and lasting impacts.
  • Status: Died in House Human Services Committee
Click here to see how your legislator voted on these bills.

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To learn how your representatives voted on the issues that matter most to you, check out our master 2021 Senate and House of Representatives Legislative Scorecards below! If your representative didn’t show up the way you’d like, let them know. Write them, call them, and make sure you’re registered to vote in their next election.

Montana House of Representatives Scorecard

How did my representative vote?

Who is my representative?

Montana Senate Scorecard

How did my senator vote?

Who is my senator?