Montana Hit with Lawsuit over Sex-Change Policy for Birth Certificates, Driver’s Licenses

Montana Capitol

Two transgender people sued Montana on Thursday, challenging a state policy that bars residents from changing the sex designations on their birth certificates unless they meet certain criteria.

Jessica Kalarchik and an individual identified only as “Jane Doe” are listed as plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging a state policy that, they argue, makes it “impossible” for transgender people born in Montana to change their birth certificates. The policy, which was finalized in 2022, prohibits individuals from changing the gender on their birth certificate, unless their gender was listed incorrectly on the original certificate as a result of data error or misidentification, according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

Read the full story

Commentary: When the State Turns Against Parents

Montana Family

A 14-year-old Montana girl has been taken from her family by the state’s child protective services after deciding to identify as a boy and will soon be sent to Canada, according to the family.

The harrowing story of Todd and Krista Kolstad’s custody battle for their troubled teen—who is Todd’s biological daughter and Krista’s step-daughter—was recently told at length by news site Reduxx.

Read the full story

Montana Attorney General Shoots Down Proposal to Enshrine Abortion in State Constitution

Austin Knudsen

Attorney General Austin Knudsen of Montana stopped an abortion ballot proposal from going through on Tuesday, claiming it was “legally insufficient,” according to the Montana Free Press.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana launched the ballot initiative in November 2023, which would prevent “the government from denying or burdening the right to abortion before fetal viability,” according to the Idaho Capital Sun. Knudsen dismissed the proposal, arguing in a memorandum that it was “legally insufficient” and “logrolls multiple distinct political choices into a single initiative,” the Montana Free Press reported.

Read the full story

Dem-Appointed Judge Blocks Montana Ban on Sex Change Treatments for Minors

A state judge appointed by former Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock ruled Wednesday to temporarily halt the enforcement of a Montana law that would have banned sex-change medical procedures for minors, according to The Associated Press.

Senate Bill 99 was signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte in April and was set to take effect on Oct. 1 until the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Montana filed a lawsuit with the plaintiffs in July arguing that the law was “inhumane,” according to a press release. Judge Jason Marks claimed in his ruling that the law was likely unconstitutional and would result in harm to those with gender dysphoria, according to the AP.

Read the full story

Top Montana State Republican Lawmakers Break from National GOP, Reveal Their Senate Pick

Republican leaders in both chambers of Montana’s state legislature along with 37 other lawmakers are backing U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale for Senate in 2024, who has yet to launch a bid and is not the favorite of the GOP in Washington, D.C.

Former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy was recruited to run by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman Steve Daines of Montana and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and has received endorsements from GOP Gov. Greg Gianforte along with numerous other national Republicans. Montana’s Senate President Jason Ellsworth, Speaker of the House Matt Regier and other legislators argued Rosendale is the best candidate to beat Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and challenge the “establishment” in Washington, D.C., according to the letter.

Read the full story

Montana Conservatives Balk at Republican Leadership’s Senate Pick for 2024

As prominent national Republicans line up behind a political newcomer and decorated veteran as their pick to win back a coveted Senate seat in 2024, grassroots Montana conservatives are frustrated with what they perceive as unwelcome outside influence attempting to sway the primary race.

National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman Steve Daines of Montana and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recruited Tim Sheehy, who quickly secured endorsements from Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte and several other senators since his late June campaign launch. However, Montana Republicans and grassroots activists who spoke to the Daily Caller News Foundation view Sheehy as the D.C. establishment’s candidate and would rather see GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale run for the seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.

Read the full story

Montana Republican Lawmakers the Latest to Receive Threatening Letters with White Powder

Montana Republican legislators are the latest GOP state officials to be targeted, receiving threatening letters containing white powder after Tennessee and Kansas Republicans received similar suspicious mail in recent days, officials say. 

Meanwhile, four days after the Cordell Hull Building legislative offices in Nashville were locked down upon Republican leaders received threatening mail, an FBI official tells The Tennessee Star that the incident remains under investigation and that the agency has no comment at this time.

Read the full story

TikTok Sues Montana over Total Statewide Ban

Chinese social media platform TikTok on Monday filed suit against a Montana law barring the platform from operating within the state and forbidding app marketplaces from offering it for download.

“We are challenging Montana’s unconstitutional TikTok ban to protect our business and the hundreds of thousands of TikTok users in Montana. We believe our legal challenge will prevail based on an exceedingly strong set of precedents and facts,” the company wrote in a complaint filed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, per Politico.

Read the full story

Montana Becomes the First State to Completely Ban TikTok

Republican Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill Wednesday that bans TikTok from the state, becoming the first one to completely outlaw the social media app.

The Montana Legislature introduced Senate Bill 419 in late February to respond to the increasing national concerns over TikTok’s ties with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the fear the app could be used to steal sensitive information, according to the measure. SB419, sponsored by Montana Republican state Sen. Shelley Vance, passed the Legislature in April.

Read the full story

Montana Lawmakers Censure Transgender Representative over ‘Blood on Your Hands’ Remark

The Montana state House on Wednesday voted to censure Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the state’s first transgender legislator, following the Democrat’s opposition to a statewide ban on so-called gender affirming care for minors. The House voted on Wednesday to censure Zephyr in a 68-32 vote, ABC News reported. The vote bars Zephyr from being recognized for the remainder of the legislative session.

Read the full story

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Other GOP Governors to Gather at Border to Pressure Biden on Illegal Immigration

Republican Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona are hosting nine governors in Mission, Texas, Wednesday to denounce President Joe Biden’s policies leading to a surge in illegal immigration at the southern border.

“Texas and Arizona have stepped up to secure the border in the federal government’s absence, and now the Emergency Management Assistance Compact gives your state a chance to stand strong with us,” Ducey and Abbott said in a joint statement this summer. Both governors issued disaster and emergency declarations in their states earlier this year, citing increased crime and financial strains on county governments and law enforcement because of the surge in illegal immigration due to Biden’s policies.

Read the full story

Commentary: One State Can Make a Difference

Farmer on a tractor, tilling field

Late last month, Montana ended its participation in the extended federal unemployment benefits program. No surprise this event was little noted in the national press, since Montana’s decision to exit the program had a direct effect on fewer than 20,000 people (the total unemployed population of Montana). Yet Montana’s decision had an enormous effect on the country as a whole.

Particularly for those inside the Beltway, it is easy to focus on Washington, D.C. as the only place where policymaking matters. And with an administration desperate to centralize power as it prints ever-growing piles of money with which it hopes to bribe or threaten states and localities, such an attitude is understandable. Recent developments in states like Montana far outside the beltway, however, show how national political innovations can be driven by states with smaller populations far from the beltway swamp and present conservatives with a path for political success. 

While elections in Montana often are driven by local and idiosyncratic issues as well as personal relationships (understandable in a state with some of America’s least populated state house and senate districts), Montana is and has long been a very red state. The only Democratic presidential candidate since 1948 to win a majority here was Lyndon B. Johnson in his 1964 landslide win over Barry Goldwater. It is much easier to convince and move 1 million people in Montana than 332 million Americans. And yet by moving 1 million Montanans (or 800,000 South Dakotans) or 1.8 million Idahoans, the Right can often exercise an outsized influence on the national debate. 

Read the full story

Commentary: Montana Governor Strips Mask Fanatics of Their Power

Monanta Gov. Greg Gianforte

Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte of Montana delivered mask fanatics a hefty, but essential, blow last week when he signed House Bill 257 into law, stripping the few remaining left-leaning health departments in the state of their ability to use their clout and control to dominate the population through unquestioned mask enforcement. The bill declares that counties can no longer require businesses to enforce health mandates, such as mask-wearing or capacity limits and restrictions, or pursue other whimsical edicts or decrees, such as cancel farmer’s markets, prohibit school parades, ban families of spectators at high-school athletic events.

While most Montana counties and towns (including Billings, the largest city in the state with a population of approximately 110,000) removed their mask mandates several weeks, if not months, ago, the university-dominated cities of Missoula and Bozeman, as well as the small, politically mixed capital city of Helena, seemed to be only tightening the screws on chronic mask-wearing. They repeatedly hid, changed, or lied about the markers and metrics for mask mandates’ removal, inexplicably shifting from one theoretical possibility or scenario to another. In the meantime, COVID-19 vaccinations have increased to the point where testing sites and vaccination camps are virtually empty, hospitalizations have plummeted to nonexistent, and deaths from the virus have fallen to the level somewhere between venomous snake bites and automotive fatalities. Yet paradoxically, the healthier and the more strengthened the state, and the more that it has recovered from the numbing side effects of the shameful lockdowns, the further away the remaining mask-obsessed health departments have pushed the date of mask abolition.

Without House Bill 257, the remaining communities would have stayed perennially under the twisted, tight-fisted influence of a handful of marginally knowledgeable, power-intoxicated, unelected bureaucrats who were playing the “follow the Fauci” model of single-minded governance. Wear a mask. Wear a mask. Wear a mask. In fact, it would not be hard to imagine a scenario in which one government employee with a mask fetish would continue to bully the populace, terrorizing the summer camps into outside mask-wearing through the hottest days of August or perpetuating mask requirements for children straight into the fall of 2021 or beyond.

Read the full story