The novelist James Lane Allen is credited with the quote, “Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.” After a remarkably challenging session full of adversity, the character of Northern Plains members is unmistakable. We are steadfast protectors of our communities, we do not back down from challenges, and our values drive our tenacity.
As bizarre as it sounds, the victories we achieved during Montana’s 68th Legislative Session may be some of Northern Plains’ biggest yet. We were facing a rabid, radicalized faction of the legislature that sought to wreck Montana’s Constitution, removing our right to a clean and healthful environment, dismantling the independence of our courts and local governments (HB 464, SB 200, SB 302, SB 317) and destroying our right to vote for Supreme Court justices (HB 915, SB 372). Alone, any one of those measures could have fundamentally changed Montana for the worse, and if enacted together, they would have been catastrophic. But, we stood strong in the face of those headwinds, and we won. Despite almost 70 proposed amendments to our Constitution, the document that underpins all of our democratic freedoms remains intact. These rights were upheld because of YOU. That’s not hyperbole. That’s not flattery. It is the truth. THANK YOU!
Without the thousands of calls, letters, and emails from Northern Plains members, dozens of dangerous laws would already be on the books or enacted in the coming days. Passionate testimony and citizen lobbying from dozens of members were often deciding factors for many bills.
Your courage was essential, because it became painfully clear early on that many legislators were getting their marching orders from corporate lobbyists. We had to fight back efforts to tax clean energy to death (SB 97) and punish Montanans for generating their own clean energy (HB 643). Both bills died thanks to our efforts.
We also stood in solidarity with our Indigenous allies, supporting important bills that address the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons crisis (HB 18, HB 163) and a powerful resolution that acknowledges the harm done by Indian boarding schools with a request that the U.S. Congress designate a national day of remembrance (SJ 6). All of these bills passed the legislature.
Despite the rancor and division sown by extremists, Northern Plains shepherded a bipartisan resolution through both chambers (SJ 9) that will designate the first week of April as Montana Soil Health Week and the first Wednesday of that month as Montana Soil Health Day. This achievement illustrates the patience, wisdom, and maturity of Northern Plains’ grassroots leaders who found common ground and shared values at a time when others worked only to widen divides.
Speaking of division, we cannot ignore the disturbing ugliness we witnessed this session as some sought to strip the dignity from our most vulnerable communities. We also saw legislators bend over backwards to please corporate lobbyists no matter the damage to Montanans’ rights or the safety of our communities. None of these fights are over yet, and we are making one last push to keep many of these dangerous bills from becoming law. Click here to lend your voice to a number of important veto requests.