Week 8 Legislative Update:

February 22nd-26th

Photo of Montana Capitol building.


The Part B subcommittee took action on the DPHHS budget on Thursday and Friday of this week. On Thursday, they restored the budget to the 2021 base, as well as required additional line items for the quite large DPHHS budget in HB 2, so there will be more detail provided as to what parts of the budget are funded, and in what amounts. In recent years, we have seen a very compressed summary of the budget for each division, which provides very little detail as to what parts of the budget of each division are funded, and in what amounts.   

On Friday, the Committee voted to increase provider rates by 1% each year of the biennium in Health Resources Division, Addictive and Mental Disorders Division, Developmental Services Division and Senior and Long-term Care Division. It did not adopt the executive’s request (change package #10990) to address the issue of the continued funding Comprehensive School-Based Community Treatment, nor did they adopt the proposed compromise to fund these services for just the first quarter of the next biennium (cp 10994). They did so to encourage further discussion about how to fix this problem in future committees, including the full Appropriations Committee, which will be the next committee to consider the budget. For a summary of this issue, click here and here (page 4).

It did not adopt the two change packages intended to fund the HEART program, regarding substance use disorder. This was largely because the substance of the program has not been disclosed by the Department, nor has the bill that would be necessary to accomplish certain fund transfers appeared as yet. 

The subcommittee also adopted substantial changes to the funding of the Intensive Behavioral Center campus in Boulder. The Department of Justice has apparently voiced an interest in using that campus - except for the IBC building - for state troopers and other purposes. Thus the committee adopted a change package to end all DSD funding for the upkeep of the ancillary parts of the Boulder campus in the second year of the upcoming biennium (cp 10001, 10002).  After it took this action, it cut the budget of the IBC by half for each year of the biennium to encourage placing the current residents of the facility into the community. (cp 10311).

Finally, the subcommittee cut the DSD budget by $734,636 to reduce the number of Quality Improvement Specialists that monitor abuse and neglect in the developmental disability service system.

Click here to view the change packages with their fiscal impact.

The Part B subcommittee will meet at 11:00 on Monday, February 22 to make any other changes that they deem appropriate.  This will mark the end of the work of the subcommittee. The next step in the process will be a full hearing on this budget in front of the full House Appropriations Committee.        

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 22nd:

At 8:00, the House State Administration Committee will hear HB 455 “Generally revise election laws related to absentee ballots.” Click here to read this bill. Among other things, this eliminates the ability of people with disabilities to go to election offices to fill out an absentee ballot if they register during late registration as well as eliminates the ability to be on a “permanent absentee” list. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Lola Sheldon Galloway and will be heard in room 455

Click here for the contact information for the House State Administration Committee.

At 3:00, the House Human Services Committee will hear HB 155, “Revise laws related to reimbursement for certain Medicaid services.” Click here to read this bill. This bill will require the disclosure of the actual cost of providing disability services in the community as well as in institutional settings and provides equity in inflationary adjustments between the state-run institutions and the private community providers. It is sponsored by Rep. Lenz and the hearing will be in room 152. 

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

Tuesday, February 23rd: 

At 8:00, the House State Administration Committee will hear HB 447 “Generally revising laws related to legislative oversight of administrative rules.” Click here to read this bill. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Mercer and will be heard in room 455.

Click here for the contact information for the House State Administration Committee.

At 9:00, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear SB 282 “Assert right of parent to direct child healthcare.” This would prohibit providers from protecting the medical privacy of youth from their parents. Although providers are not often in the position of needing to make this distinction, unfortunately, there are situations where youth need to access services and have their privacy protected from a parent or guardian. Current state law allows youth 16 and up to consent for mental health services, giving them critical access in difficult times. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Theresa Manzella and will be heard in room 303.

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

At 3:00, the House Human Services Committee with hear HB 408 “Generally revise mental health laws.” Click here to read this bill. It is sponsored by Rep. Kerns. It provides various incentives to mental health providers to provide those services in under-served areas.  It will be heard in room 152.

The House Human Services Committee with also hear HB 369 “Support school-based prevention programs.” Click here to read this bill. Sponsored by Rep. Caferro will be heard in room 152.

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

Wednesday, February 24th:

At 3:00, the House Human Services Committee will hear HB 423 “Revise laws to provide for additional screening of newborn infants.” Click here to read this bill. This is sponsored by Rep. Lenz 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.


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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