Montanans are fiercely independent and cherish our constitutional rights and freedoms. We are proud to report that this legislative session Republicans passed a series of bills that safeguard individual rights, and thankfully we have a governor who has signed them into law.
Early in the session, House Republicans introduced House Bill 102 to expand permitless carry of firearms. This legislation protects the individual right to self-defense and strengthens Montanans’ Second Amendment rights. Similar bills have been vetoed in previous sessions but House Bill 102 was signed into law by Gov. Gianforte. Other pro-Second Amendment legislation pushes back on the enforcement of new federal gun or ammunition bans in the state.
House Republicans also successfully passed legislation to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for the unborn. House Bill 136 is the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and it prevents abortions after five months when a child can begin to feel pain. House Bill 140 requires that pregnant women be offered the opportunity to view their ultrasound or fetal heartbeat so that they can make a fully informed decision. Finally, House Bill 171 requires an in-person doctor visit in order to be prescribed abortion-inducing drugs. This allows the pregnant woman to get a medical exam and learn about the drug. It also prevents abusers and sex traffickers from ordering these pills through the mail and forcing them on victims.
Montanans increasingly saw their rights to work, practice their faith, operate their businesses, and participate freely in society eroded over the past year by overzealous, unelected health officials. The Legislature responded by passing a series of bills to rein in health orders, require local elected officials to approve certain health department actions, and prevent businesses from having to be the enforcement arm of health orders. We also provided liability protection to businesses, nonprofits, churches, schools, government entities, and individuals to avoid frivolous COVID lawsuits and get our state opened back up. Finally, we asserted the legislative branch of government’s role in determining state-level emergency declarations.
The Legislature also expanded other civil liberties that Montanans care about such as free speech and association on our college campuses, a constitutional referendum to establish digital privacy, and a bill to require a warrant for the government to access your DNA through third parties.
Finally, we passed legislation to limit burdensome administrative rules, regulations, and red tape that state agencies force on Montana businesses and individuals when the legislature isn’t in session. A key theme of this legislative session has been reducing the heavy hand of government on the everyday lives of Montanans. Our state and our citizens are more free thanks to the 67th Legislature.
Wylie Galt, R-Martinsdale, is the speaker of the Montana House of Representatives. Casey Knudsen, R-Malta, is the speaker pro tempore. Sue Vinton, R-Lockwood, is the majority leader.