Legislative Update: Tuesday, Feb. 14

Moffat

Freddy Monares/UM Community News Service

John Moffatt told of being shot while working as the principal at Fergus High School in Lewistown.

Bill would allow teachers to arm themselves

By Freddy Monares

Lawmakers in Helena are considering a bill that would allow full-time school employees with concealed carry permits to carry handguns on school grounds.

House Bill 385 would create the Montana Safe Schools Act, which the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Seth Berglee, R-Joliet, says would create a line of first defense for schools.

“It does make sense in the case of an active shooter, that having individuals in those systems armed would be a good idea and would be effective,” Berglee said.

John Moffatt, a volunteer for Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety in America, shared his story of being shot by a school shooter while working as the principal at Fergus High School in Lewistown.

“I know absolutely there is nothing I could have done, even had I been armed at that time,” Moffatt said.

Two people testified for the bill on Tuesday and 25 testified against it.

Freddy Monares is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

Expanded of anti-bias law sought

By Cole Grant

On Wednesday, a bill that would make it unlawful to discriminate against anyone based on their gender identity or expression or sexual orientation will have a hearing at the Montana Legislature. Montana law already protects against discrimination based on sex, race, and creed.

Rep. Kelly McCarthy, D-Billings, is carrying House Bill 417.

“All we’re saying is that you don’t get to single out people and deny them the rights that the rest of us have because you don’t like something about them,” McCarthy said.

Last session, a similar bill did not make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Cary Smith, R-Billings, was opposed to the bill in 2015 and he is opposed to McCarthy’s legislation.

“I’m just not interested in adding additional classes of people that identify theirselves as different than the rest of the population, and think they need a discrimination protection against that,” he said.

The hearing for House Bill 417 is Wednesday morning in the House Judiciary Committee.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

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