Week 7 Legislative Update:

February 15th - 19th 

Photo of Montana Capitol building.


On Monday, February 15, there will be a joint meeting with the Section A budget subcommittee regarding Federal CARES II Funds.

After that, the Part B Sub-committee will wrap up its work and begin voting on the budget on Wednesday, February 17 at 8:00 am. It is crucial that they hear from you about what funding increases should occur and in which divisions well before then. We are hoping we see increased funding for the tribal/county matching grants for mental health services and diversion from criminal justice settings, provider rate increases, an increase in foster care daily rates, and an increase in the medically needy spend-down cap. 

We are also hoping that we do not see support for AMDD’s proposal to request an 1115 waiver to allow a 30-day stay at the Montana State Hospital to be reimbursed by Medicaid. This proposal is antithetical to the purpose of waivers, which is to divert people from institutional care.

Click here for the full schedule. Be sure to check it often as we have seen the schedule change with little notice.


General Bills

Monday, February 15th:

At 3:00, the House Education Committee with hear HB 329, “Establish the Students with Special Needs Equal Opportunity Act.” Click here to read this bill.  This bill would establish a fund called the “Montana Special Needs Equal Opportunity Education Savings Account Program” where funds would be deposited for parents to use for private education of their children with disabilities.  The bill does not establish standards for the provision of special education services by private educational institutions, nor does it prohibit them from discriminating on the basis of disability.   The sponsor is Rep. Sue Vinton and the hearing will be in room 137.

Click here for the contact information for the House Education Committee.

House Human Services

Also at 3:00, the House Human Services Committee will hear HB 291 “Requiring coverage of amplification devices, services for kids with hearing loss.” Click here to read this bill.  This would require private insurance plans to cover these services for children with hearing loss.  It is sponsored by Rep. Moffie Funk, it will be heard in room 152.

The House Human Services Committee will also hear HB 341, “Require that Medicaid appropriations be used only for Medicaid expenditures.” Click here to read this bill. This bill would address the issue of reversion of appropriated but unspent Medicaid funds to the general fund.  The sponsor is Rep. Matt Regier and will be heard in room 152.  

Tuesday, February 16th: 

At 9:00 the Senate Business and Labor Committee will hear SB 186  “Revising definition of services related to public procurement contracts.” Click here to read this bill. This is sponsored by Sen. Freidel and will be heard in room 422.

Click here for the contact information for the Senate Business and Labor Committee.

Wednesday, February 17th:

At 8:00, the House Judiciary Committee will hear HB 351 “Revise disability parking laws.” Click here to read this bill. This would require that a disability parking space be “maintained free of any obstructions, including but not limited to snow, shipping pallets, and shopping carts.” The sponsor is Rep. Ron Marshall and will be heard in room 137.

Click here for the contact information for the House Judiciary Committee.

At 3:00, the House Human Services Committee will hear HB 328 “Provide guidelines for assessing language development in deaf children.” Click here to read this bill.  It provides requirements for evaluating and assessing language and literacy development, the selection of language-specific evaluation and assessment tools, and providing for an annual report about the “language and literacy development of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.” This is sponsored by Rep. Connie Keogh and will be heard in room 152.

Click here for the contact information for the House Human Services Committee.

Friday, February 19th:

At 9:00, the Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee will hear SB 217, “ Revise laws relating to psychiatric collaborative care.” Click here to read this bill. The bill revises the mental health parity act to include coverage of services provided through the psychiatric collaborative care model, which means the:

“evidence-based, integrated behavioral health service delivery method in which care:

(a) is delivered by a primary care team consisting of a primary care provider and a care manager who work in collaboration with a psychiatric consultant, including but not limited to a psychiatrist; 

(b) is directed by the primary care team; 

(c) includes structured care management with regular assessments of clinical status using validated tools and modification of treatment as appropriate; and 

(d) involves regular consultations between the psychiatric consultant and the primary care team to review the clinical status and care of patients and to make recommendations.

The bill is sponsored by Senator Jason Small and will be heard in room 422.

This committee will also hear SB 216, “Revise laws relating to insurance parity compliance reporting.” Click here to read this bill. The bill requires health insurance issuers to provide parity compliance reporting. This bill is also sponsored by Senator Jason Small and will be heard in room 422.

Click here for the contact information for the Senate Business and Labor Committee.

At 3:00, the House Human Services Committee will hear HB 296 “Establish grant program and other uses of DD general fund appropriation.” Click here to read this bill. This bill would direct any “general fund money appropriated in a general appropriations act to match federal funds for services provided under the Medicaid comprehensive home and community-based services waiver for people with developmental disabilities may be used only for . . . waiver services” or a grant program for entities that provide developmental disability services.  The grants may be used for

“(a) acquisition, renovation, or maintenance of community-based facilities;  

(b) staff training that exceeds the minimum training levels established by the department;

(c) staff retention and recruitment efforts, including but not limited to lump-sum payments based on:

(i) acceptance of employment; (ii) longevity in employment; or (iii) the complexity of the care provided;

(d) payment for medical equipment needed by a person with developmental disabilities but not

covered by Medicaid; and

(e) other purposes involving community-based facilities or community-based services as established by the department by rule.”

This is sponsored by Rep. Mary Caferro and will be heard in room 152.

Click here for the contact information for the House Human Services Committee.


To listen to audio/video streaming of committee hearings, click here.


Goings on this week:

SB 31, “Require consideration of less restrictive options in guardianship proceedings” was heard and passed unanimously by the House this week.  It now goes to the Governor.

The House also passed HJR4, “Study criminal proceedings and commitment of people with mental illness.”

The House Human Services Committee passed HB 37 “Clarify requirements for the Medicaid medically needy program”, HB 276 “Put peer support specialists on the board of behavioral health”, and HB 275 “Establish uses of Medicaid waiver funds.”


If you have accessibility needs and would like to receive the newsletter in another format, please contact Disability Rights Montana at advocate@disabilityrightsmt.org or call 800-245-4743.


How to Contact Legislators During the Session

Online Messaging

Use the online messaging form to message a legislator (click button below). This is one of the quickest and most effective ways of contacting your legislator. 

Phone Call

Regular office hours during the session are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to adjournment on Saturdays. Callers may leave messages for legislators or acquire general legislative information by calling the Information Desk at (406) 444-4800. Callers may leave messages for up to 5 individual legislators or 1 legislative committee per call.

Not sure who represents you in the Montana Legislature? Click Here 

Stay Informed

We will be posting an electronic newsletter each Friday during the 2021 legislative session. We will give you information about upcoming budget and general bill hearings, developments for other bills we are following and action alerts when these bills are coming up for votes.  


Paid Opportunity for Youth and Young Adults with Intellectual Disabilities:

Click here to learn more.

Do You Have the Assistive Technology You Need to Participate in the 2021 Legislative Session?

Do you have what you need to share your story or voice support of bills that impact the lives of Montanans with disabilities? Borrow equipment from MonTECH for 30-60 days so you'll be prepared to write, call, or testify.

MonTECH houses a wide range of equipment to help you get connected. Borrow iPads, adapted keyboards, hands-free mice, laptops, wearable speakers, headphones, webcams, voice amplifiers, or devices that allow hands-free video calls with motion tracking. Spotty or nonexistent internet? If you’re in range of a cellular tower, borrow a Jetpack Mobile Hotspot and connect up to 15 devices! MonTECH provides free shipping and return shipping anywhere in Montana, and serves any Montanan who has a disability (including learning disabilities). The program is easy to use and does not require medical verification of a disability to borrow this type of equipment. Call or write if you have questions or need help accessing our program: montech@mso.umt.edu, 1-877-243-5511. We look forward to helping ensure you are heard during the 2021 legislative session!


Protection & Advocacy Service Training

We are more than happy to provide training and workshops to others. We welcome nonprofits, clients, workplaces, and more, to reach out to us if you would like for us to present about our services, and how we can provide assistance. Call 406-449-2344 or email Advocate@DisabilityRightsMT.org.


"Advocating for justice is our individual and collective responsibility."

Executive Director,
Disability Rights Montana
Bernie Franks-Ongoy



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