Legislative Update: Wednesday, April 12

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Dennis Lenz

Abortion bill wins preliminary approval

By Freddy Monares

The Montana House gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill that would make it unlawful for physicians to perform abortions after five months of pregnancy.

Senate Bill 329 provides an exception for medical emergencies that threaten the life of the mother.

Rep. Dennis Lenz, R-Billings, a supporter of the bill, said he says he takes great offense when someone says men don’t understand abortion.

“As someone who was born to an unwed mother—11 years before Roe v. Wade—I know where I would be,” Lenz said.

Rep. Virginia Court, D-Billings, who opposes the bill, said it is the ultimate in government interference.

“What happens when your daughter comes home and she has been date raped?” Court said. “What do you do? Do you say, ‘Oh, fine. You can carry this child.’”

The House passed the bill on a 60-to-40 vote, and will hold a final vote Thursday.

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.

Hunting ballot issue killed in House

By Cole Grant

The Montana House of Representatives killed a bill Wednesday that would have asked voters to make hunting, fishing and trapping a constitutional right. Senate Bill 236 passed the Senate on a 30-to-20 vote back in March.

The bill would have put the issue on the 2018 ballot. It would also have given the public preference in any hunting, fishing or trapping used for wildlife management.

The current language, which will remain in place, states that harvesting wild fish and game is a heritage that will always be maintained for Montana citizens. Neither the bill nor the Constitution creates a right to trespass or diminish any other private rights.

Rep. Tom Jacobson, D-Great Falls, said the bill would have dramatically changed what’s already in the Constitution.

“Why we would want to go out and meddle with something that is so simple, so clean and so effective is beyond me,” he said. The bill failed on a 48-51 vote.

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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