Dear MSSA Friends,

Please read this entire email.

MSSA will have a total of about 15 or 17 bills introduced this session of the Montana Legislature. It will be critical for you to be able to track the progress of these bills, and for you to weigh in in support of these bills at critical times in the process (back to process in a moment).

Already introduced are:
HB 240, to address the Montana university system campus gun bans, sponsored by Rep. Cary Smith.

SB 145, to keep CWP info confidential, sponsored by Sen. Eric Moore. SB 145 is similar to and better than Sen. Murphy’s SB 133. Sen. Murphy will drop his SB 133 in deference to SB 145. SB 145 is scheduled for public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee this coming Wednesday, 1/23. See below for ways to contact committee members.

I’ll send out announcements to the MSSA e-list as soon as other MSSA bills are introduced.

The legislative process:

Every bill is introduced by either a Senator or a Representative. If introduced by a Senator, it becomes a Senate Bill, with an SB#, such as SB100. If introduced by a Representative, it becomes a House Bill, with an HB#, such as HB100.

Whichever chamber a bill is introduced into, it will be assigned to a committee for review, and that committee will set a date for a public hearing on the bill. That date is the critical date for supporters to travel to Helena to speak for the bill at the public hearing, or to send messages to legislators in support of the bill (or opposition to bad bills).

The first committee is the most critical step in the life of a bill. Bad bills are most easily killed in the first committee they come to, and good bills pass their most difficult hurdle in getting a majority vote of legislators on the committee to which a bill is assigned.

Some time after the public hearing on a bill (sometimes later that day, more commonly on a subsequent day) the committee will take “executive action” on a bill. This is where committee members will discuss a bill, make motions to amend a bill, and take the committee’s final vote on whether or not to approve and forward a bill.

If the committee approves the bill, either as-is or as amended, it goes to the floor of the full chamber for “Second Reading.” This is where the measure is discussed and debated among all members of the chamber, where the bill may be amended further (opponents may push amendments to effectively gut or minimize the effect of a bill), and where the bill will get a vote of all members of the chamber.

If the bill passes on Second Reading, usually the next day, the chamber will take Third Reading action on a bill. On Third Reading, there is no discussion, debate or amendment – just a straight up and down vote. If the bill passes on Third Reading, it goes to the other chamber (from Senate to House, or House to Senate), where the same process is repeated all over again. If the bill passes both Senate and House, it goes to the Governor for his signature (usually – there are exceptions).

So, when Second or Third Reading action is pending for a bill is also a critical time to contact legislators to urge their support for or opposition to a bill.

Critical links:

Members of Senate Committees may be found HERE (.pdf file)
Members of House Committees may be found HERE (.pdf file)

Individual bill progress and bill text may be found from HERE.

Individual legislators may be located HERE.

Messages to individual legislators or all members of a committee may be sent from the link just above. Those messages should be very brief. Legislators don’t have much time or attention span because of their heavy workload.

I highly recommend you save this email to refer to it throughout the session to use as I send out panic emails asking you to get messages supporting MSSA bills to legislators or committees.

Be prepared to get more emails soon as our bills get working. Be prepared to act on these emails. Feel free to forward these emails to your sympathetic friends. Encourage your pro-gun friends to send me an email and ask to get on the MSSA email list. I’ll try to keep subsequent emails shorter.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Association

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