- 1 Ways to Resist
- 2 Updates
- 3 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Healthcare
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Benefits / Tax Cuts
- 11 Housing/Infrastructure
- 12 Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
Ways to Resist
- Contact your elected officials:
- Get involved with local organizations.
- Find organizations with state and local presences working in your area.
- Check out our Tools of Resistance.
- Look for upcoming state and local events.
- A special election will be held in late April to replace current Republican Representative Ryan Zinke, who is poised to be sworn in as Secretary of the Interior. Both parties must hold nominating conventions, which are currently on hold because Zinke has not yet been confirmed.
Actions Taken by the State Government
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by Montana lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
- HB 169 Act to raise minimum wage to $10.10 on January 1, 2018.
- HB 417 would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Harmful bills proposed by Montana lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- HB 357 restricts what qualifies as accepted identification at the ballot box.
- HB 609 would restrict access to changing facilities for people according to the sex that they were assigned at birth.
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
Key Upcoming Elections
Click here to find out if you're registered to vote. Register to vote here. The deadline is 30 days before Election Day. Same-day in-person registration is available on Election Day. Bring proof of identification the first time you vote. A non-photo ID is requested every time you vote.
- Elections for Montana US House at large will be held in 2017.
- Senator John Tester (D) is up for reelection in 2018.
- If there is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, 102,000 people in Montana (or 9.9% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 142,000 people (or 13.8% of the population) will lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/28/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.) This is because with a full repeal, premiums will not increase the way they would under a partial repeal, since insurance companies will be able to discriminate on the basis of preexisting conditions and won't be required to provide essential health benefits. Not covering preexisting conditions will disproportionately affect people with disabilities.
- Approximately 18,000 Native Americans in Montana may lose their health coverage under a full repeal.
- The number of uninsured people in Montana is predicted to be 86,000 by 2021 under the ACA. Without the ACA, that number is expected to rise to 196,000, a 127.4% increase.
- Montana is among the many states that lost the ability to place lifetime limits on coverage, because that practice is banned by the ACA; those limits are likely to be reinstated under a full repeal.
- Given that a repeal of the ACA would also change payment structures and subsidies, 8,000 jobs could be lost in Montana in the event of repeal. When federal funding is cut, it creates a ripple effect that affects local and state revenue, thus creating losses in economic activity and employment.
- Democratic Senator Jon Tester, who is up for reelection in 2018, voted to keep the ACA.
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay strategy, young adults in Montana could pay $914 more in 2018.
- 24 people have been killed by police in the state of Montana from 2013 through 2016.
- 0% of the people killed by police were black.
- Police in Montana kill people at the 7th highest rate among US states..
- In 2013, Montana had 19,692 immigrants, making up 2% of the population.
- There are estimated to be less than 5,000 undocumented immigrants in Montana, making up 0.3% of the population.
Rights of Non-Citizens
- Montana does not allow undocumented immigrants to get drivers’ licenses.
- Montana does not allow undocumented immigrants to attend public college at the same in-state tuition rate as legal residents and citizens.
- In 2012, President Barack Obama signed an executive order (DACA) that defers deportation for children who were brought to the country as children. The action allows them to work lawfully but does not create a pathway to citizenship or give them legal status in the United States. In Montana, 99 individuals have benefited from this executive action.
- 0.1% of K-12 students in Montana had undocumented parents in 2014.
- Undocumented immigrants in Montana made up 0.4% of the labor workforce in 2014.
- If all undocumented workers were removed from Montana, the state would lose $96.3 million in economic activity.
- Undocumented immigrants paid $3.2 million in state and local taxes in Montana in 2012.
- Montana does not have any counties or cities with sanctuary policies.[
- From 2013 to 2014, Montana ranked in the bottom 20% for refugee resettlement, with less than six refugees resettled per 100,000 residents.
- Montana has a troubled history of denying Native Americans the right to vote and of enacting systems that dilute American Indian voting strength. It has taken decades of litigation to remedy many of these problems, yet inequalities remain. Attempts have been made to further disenfranchise Native American voters and voters as a whole through changes in voting procedures, such as Legislative Referendum 126, an issue on the November 2014 ballot that attempted to eliminate Election Day voter registration.
- In 2017, lawmakers in Montana have already introduced bills to expand early voting access, restore the right to vote for people with criminal convictions, and enact online voter registration. Members of both political parties have endorsed these or similar reforms over the past two years.
- In 2014, Montana had 6,569 incarcerated people, plus a probation population of 8,362 and parole population of 1,020.
- 1,432 people are incarcerated in private prisons in Montana.
- 150 juveniles are in custody in Montana.
- Of the prison population, 97 people were serving life sentences, and 53 were serving life sentences without parole.
- In Montana, a black person is 6.3 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white person.
- Corrections expenditures in 2014 were $195 million.
Benefits / Tax Cuts
- Montana residents who face a tax increase under Trump’s plan:
- Households: 25,000
- Adults and children: 87,000
- Children: 54,000
- In 2015, an average of 56,112 households and 119,082 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) benefits in a given month in Montana. In 2011, approximately 12% of the population of Montana was receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps). The average monthly benefit per Montana household was $248 per household and $117 per person in 2016.
- In 2016, an average of 7,653 households, including 3,230 families and 5,849 children, received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in a given month. The average monthly benefit for a single parent with three children residing in Montana was $588 in 2014. Average benefits in Montana have fallen in value by 12% since 1996.
- In 2016, an average of 4,304 women received funds from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in a given month.
- In December 2015, there were 1,288 Social Security recipients in the "aged" category who received $298.13 per person on average, for a total of $384,000.
- 29,700 low-income families spent more than half of their income on housing.
- In 2014, Montana had 41 units of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of area median income.)
- In Montana, there were 1,418 homeless people in 2016.
- Of the homeless population, there were 172 families, 165 veterans, 87 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 137 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Montana received $69 million in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In Montana, more than 14,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all Montana households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly people or disabled people.
- Montana's infrastructure received a score of C- from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2015.
- This study gave the state a “good” score for solid waste, and identified schools and wastewater as being in “poor” condition.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 17.2% of Montana's bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 52% of Montana's roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $184 per motorist per year in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs.
Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- Montana has five Planned Parenthood centers.
- In 2015, all five centers were in rural, medically underserved, or health provider shortage areas.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 37,000 women of reproductive age.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There were five abortion providers in Montana in 2015.
- In 2014, 4.4 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in Montana had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
Policy Solutions / Issues
Montana has no major restrictions on abortion access.
Women and Wages
- In Montana, 14.2% of women live in poverty. 45.3% of single mothers live in poverty, as do 8.9% of women age 65 and older.
- For every dollar made by men, women are paid $0.73, which is seven cents below the national average of $0.80.
- African American women are paid $0.63 for every dollar paid to white men, while Latina women make $0.55 for every dollar made by white men.
- 51.21% of simple assaults in the State in 2011 were by partners or family members.
- There were 112 deaths due to intimate partner homicide between 2000 and 2012.
Religious freedom law
Montana does not have State religious freedom laws. Religious freedom laws protect people's right to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right, and were intended to protect religious minorities. However, after same-sex marriage was legalized, conservative states have attempted to enact similar laws with provisions that allow discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.
Montana lacks nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, adoption, foster care, insurance and credit. It has passed laws against discrimination in jury selection and does have nondiscrimination policy for state employees.. Montana legislators will have the opportunity to pass a law adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's nondiscrimination laws in 2017.
Montana has passed laws on second-parent adoption and de-facto parent recognition, but lacks parental presumption for same-sex couples and laws on consent to inseminate (meaning that in the case of the insemination of one member of a female same-sex couple, the partner not carrying the child is not automatically recognized as a parent).It has passed laws permitting discrimination in adoption and foster care placement.
Hate crime laws
Montana does not include LGBTQ+ people in its hate crime laws as a protected group and does not requires specific reporting of such crimes.
Montana lacks laws on bullying, transgender inclusion in sports and laws to address LGBTQ+ youth homelessness. It does not require school suicide prevention policies and lacks protections from conversion therapy, LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education laws and LGBTQ+ inclusive juvenile justice policies.
Health and safety laws
Montana does not have nondiscrimination protections in the ACA exchanges and does not ban insurance exclusions for trans health care. It lacks trans-inclusive health benefits for state employees and does not include trans health care in State Medicaid. The State does not allow gender marker changes on identification documents and does not collect health data on LGBTQ+ individuals.
- Montana is ranked 25th in per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $6,352 per student.
- As of 2013, Montana ranked 28th in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $49,999 per year.
- 89% of students in Montana attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private school families earning an average 17% higher income.
- As of 2014, public charter school enrollment accounted for 0% of total public school enrollment.
- Montana's overall graduation rate is 85%, which is above the national average. By subgroups, four-year graduation rates are as follows:
- White: 88%
- Latino: 81%
- Black: 89%
- Asian/Pacific Islander: 85%
- American Indian: 65%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 75%
- Limited English Proficient: 59%
- Students with Disabilities: 76%
Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- Montana has a minimum wage of $8.15(/$4.00*). The $4.00 rate applies to businesses with gross annual sales of $110,000 or less; $8.15 applies to all others.
- Montana has no state law for paid sick leave.
- Montana has no state law for paid family leave.
- Montana is a state with no Right-to-Work laws, which means that the state can not prohibit unions that collectively bargain on behalf of both members and nonmembers from requiring union fees for the services they provide to all workers they represent. Right-to-work laws are designed to reduce unions' income and power.
- Montana is a state with an at-will exemption. However, Montana is the only state where employment is not presumed to be at-will. "At-will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
- Montana also has a public policy exemption, meaning that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (e.g., joining the National Guard or performing jury duty) and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- Montana does allow for implied contract exemptions.. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor; or handbooks, policies or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- Montana does not support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted the covenant in different ways, from requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
Climate / Environment
- About 51% of Montana's electricity generation is from coal, and the rest is from renewable sources.
- Montana has 17 sites on the National Priorities List.
- Approximately 30% of Montana’s land is federally owned.
- In 2014, the Black population had the highest air pollution exposure indices—of 15—compared to an overall index of 12 and a White index of 12.
- In 2012, people of color in Montana were most likely to have asthma—13.2%, compared to 9.1% overall.
- The environmental agency in Montana is the of Environmental Quality.
- Montana's Climate Action Plan was completed in 2007. It had the goal of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by the year 2020.
- Montana passed a law in 2005 that requires (beginning in 2008) that 15% of the state's energy come from renewable sources starting in 2015.
- 13.7% of Montana's residents are disabled, compared with the national average of 12.6%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1810]
- The employment rate among disabled adults in Montana is 40.3%, compared to the national average of 34.9%. People without disabilities in Montana have a 77.4% employment rate. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1811]
- Approximately 17.1% of eligible voters in Montana have one or more disabilities, compared to a national average of 15.7%.
- Of adults with disabilities in Montana, 30.0% live in poverty, as opposed to 12.9% of non-disabled adults. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B23024] The poverty rate for disabled children under 5 is 6.7%, as opposed to 25.2% for non-disabled children.[2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B18130]
- In Montana, 4.8% of adults between 18 and 64 receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income), compared to the national average of 5.4%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B19056]
Find state/local chapters of national organizations here.
State and Local Disability Rights Organizations
- Brain Injury Alliance Montana
- Disability Rights Montana, Montana's P&A (Protection & Advocacy) Organization
- Montana Aging and Disability Resource Center
- Montana Money Follows the Person (MFP), helping people transition from institutions back into the community
- Montana Statewide Independent Living Council
- NAMI Montana (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
- OlmsteadRights list of Montana disability resources