The Policy Institute, based in Helena, Montana, blends authoritative research and
hands-on political engagement to create public policy based on economic justice, fair taxation, corporate accountability and environmental responsibility.
In Their Own Words - Testimony at the 2011 Legislature
Throughout the 2011 Montana Legislature, The Policy Institute gathered video clips of legislators - and others who testified - making their case, in their own words.
- SB 423: Rep. Ellie Hill (D-Missoula) defends the medical marijuana community in Montana and Rep. David Howard (R-Park City) calls medical marijuana a "scourge."
- SB 276: Rep. Diane Sands (D-Missoula) attempts to blast Senate Bill 276 (a bill that would decriminalize homosexual acts in Montana) from House Judiciary. Rep. Ken Peterson (R-Billings) argues that the law should not be changed. Rep. Steve Gibson (R-East Helena) argues that the government should stay out of our bedrooms. Rep. Michael More (R-Gallatin Gateway) argues that protections for LGBT Montanans are sufficient and refers the body to the Bible to defend his viewpoint. Rep. Sands reminds the body that until 1997, LGBT Montanans were un-convicted felons because of the people they loved.
- HB 14: Rep. Alan Hale (R-Basin), a bar owner, stands in opposition to HB 14 (would eliminate the five-year look back in misdemeanor DUI/BAC cases) and all DUI laws and seems to defend drunk driving as a, "way of life that has been in Montana for years and years."
- HB 638: Montana Human Rights Network lobbyist Jamee Greer speaks out against HB 638 (would deny certain state-funded services to undocumented workers) and against the racist rhetoric that has been allowed in the House Judiciary Committee this session.
- SB 276: Rep. Bob Wagner (R-Harrison) and other opponents of SB 276 (a bill that would decriminalize homosexual acts in Montana) rely on lies to smear the LGBT population. Opponents claim that all pedophiles are gay or bisexual and try to portray all gay men as HIV-positive tax burdens to the state.
- HB 516: Sen. Carol Williams (D-Missoula) speaks to a crowd gathered at the Montana capitol, many of whom had traveled to Helena to testify in opposition to HB 516 (would nullify Missoula's nondiscrimination ordinance passed last year). The House Judiciary committee heard only a fraction of those who had come to testify in opposition to the bill.
- HB 516: Rep. Diane Sands (D-Missoula) reads the names of those who had come to oppose the bill (to limit local ordinances that protect particular classes of people) but were not allowed to testify. Committee chairman, Rep. Ken Peterson (R-Billings) limited the testimony of proponents and opponents to just 10 minutes each. More than 50 people came to the capitol wishing to speak in opposition to the bill and in favor of HB 514, that would add protection of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Montanans to the Montana Human Rights Act.
- HB 516: Rep. Ellie Hill (D-Missoula) questions Hamilton pastor Harris Himes about what "religious reasons" he has for not wanting to rent to an LGBT Montanan. Rev. Himes says that God's punishment for being gay is that a person shall, "surely be put to death."
- "Birther bill": Rep. Bob Wagner (R-Harrison) is interviewed by Anderson Cooper regarding the "birther bill" in Montana on CNN's AC360.
- HB 392: A news story featuring testimony against House Bill 392, sponsored by Rep. James Knox (R-Billings), that would deny Montana citizenship to people born in the U.S. who don't have at least one parent who "owes no allegiance to any foreign sovereignty."
- SB 185: Rep. Janna Taylor (R-Dayton) testifies in opposition to Senate Bill 185, which would abolish the death penalty in Montana and replace it with life in prison without parole. Rep. Taylor's comments have drawn criticism for misrepresenting the ways in which HIV/AIDS can be transmitted.
- HB 274: Proponents testify on House Bill 274, an anti-immigration bill that would require the state of Montana to investigate any complaint they receive about immigrants working without authorization, even if the complaint is based purely on race, appearance and language. In this compilation piece, Border Crossing Law Firm's Shahid Haque-Hausrath shows how the proponents' own testimony contains the racial stereotyping and xenophobia that the bill would encourage.
- HB 130: Rep. Champ Edmunds (R-Missoula) describes a hypothetical voter fraud scheme that could ostensibly take place on the UM campus as a reason to oppose House Bill 130 (a bill to establish mail ballot elections). In this speech, Rep. Edmunds implies that students of The University of Montana - and other Montana universities - are somehow less responsible to handle mail and sensitive information than other people.
- Use of the Term "Obamacare": Here Sen. Anders Blewett (D-Great Falls) challenges Sen. Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge) on his use of the term "Obamacare" to describe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.