MWF 2021 Legislative Leadership Guide

A full list of legislators and relevant committees is available by clicking here. 

Officers of Senate 

  • President: Mark Blasdel, R-Kalispell
  • President Pro Tempore: Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton
  • Majority Leader: Cary Smith, R-Billings
  • Majority Whips: Doug Kary, R-Billings; Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls; Gordy Vance, R-Belgrade
  • Minority Leader: Jill Cohenour, D-Helena
  • Minority Whips: JP Pomnichowski, D-Bozeman; Pat Flowers, D-Bozeman; Diane Sands, D-Missoula

Officers of the House of Representatives 

  • Speaker: Wylie Galt, R-Martinsdale
  • Speaker Pro Tempore: Casey Knudsen, R-Malta
  • Majority Leader: Sue Vinton, R-Billings
  • Majority Whips: Seth Berglee, R-Joliet; Dennis Lenz, R-Billings; Lola Sheldon-Galloway, R-Great Falls; Derek Skees, R-Kalispell
  • Minority Leader: Kim Abbot, D-Helena
  • Minority Caucus Chair: Marilyn Marler, D-Missoula
  • Minority Whips: Tyson Running Wolf, D-Browning; Laurie Bishop, D-Livingston; Derek Harvey, D-Butte

Who is your legislator?
If you do not know who your legislators are, you can search by your address at: https://www.leg.mt.gov/map/
 

How to Lobby the 2021 Montana Legislature

Important Resources

Legislative Services web site: http://leg.mt.gov/

Leave a Message for Legislators and Committees: 

Phone messages: (406) 444-4800 from 7:30 am and 5 pm

Website messages: https://leg.mt.gov/web-messaging/

Governor’s Telephone: (406) 444-3111 or via the web at governor.mt.gov/contact

The Montana Wildlife Federation’s Bill Tracker: https://montanawildlife.org/news/capitol-report-2021-bills-and-budgets/

MWF’s website provides the following useful information:

How to Lobby During a Pandemic

 

BE SAFE! Live to fight another day. Don’t enter the Capitol if you don’t have to. Some legislators will gather in the Capitol but others will participate remotely. That means you can also participate in legislative hearings from the comfort of your own home.

First, know what’s going on:

  1. Visit MWF’s website at to follow the bills and issues in which you are most interested. Each high priority bill will have a description and link to help you learn more about how you can help.  
  2. Join MWF’s weekly Legislative Action Team ZOOM meetings every Monday at 7 p.m. to learn what’s going on, how you can be involved, and to ask questions. You can participate using a telephone or a computer. 
  3. Keep up-to-date by joining MWF’s email list so you can get alerts and our regular updates, as well as action alerts when we really need a large voice to speak up. 



Second, know how to testify remotely: 

  1. If you want to testify remotely you must register on the legislative services website by 12 pm (noon) the day before the hearing. You can register to testify here: https://leg.mt.gov/public-testimony/ When you register you must fill in the box regarding written testimony. You can include written testimony or attachments when you register but you do not have to do so even though you do have to put something in that box for written testimony. Instead, you can write in the box that you have no written testimony. 
  2. The registration form allows you to say whether you want to testify via phone or computer. If you register to testify via computer the committee will not see your video feed only your name and Zoom profile photo if you have one. If you want to add a photo to your Zoom account so that legislators can see you (it adds a personal touch to an impersonal online format), login to your Zoom account on the web, click “Profile” and add a photo by clicking “change” and then upload the photo you want to use. 
  3. After you register you will receive a receipt via email. This only confirms your registration. The day of the hearing you will receive the Zoom link or phone number for the hearing. 
  4. The day of the hearing, click on the link that was e-mailed to you that day (if you do not receive the email, check your spam folder). 
  5. During the hearing they will ask for proponents of the bill followed by opponents. You will need to click on the “raise your hand” function at the bottom of the screen when they call for proponents or opponents. To raise your hand on the phone hit *9. 
  6. When the hearing administrator calls on you to testify, you must unmute yourself. To unmute on Zoom, click the microphone button on the lower left of the screen so the red line through the microphone image disappears. On the phone you can unmute yourself by dialing *6.
  7. When you testify always address your comments to the Chair and the Committee, followed by your name, how to spell your name, and where you are from. For example, start your testimony by saying, “Mr./Madame Chair, members of the committee, my name is —-, that is spelled —. I am from —.” 
  8. When testifying try to limit your comments to 3 minutes (about one typed page double-sided). Try not to repeat what others have said. Use personal stories whenever possible
  9. After you testify, stay until the hearing is over in case a committee member has a question for you. If you get asked a question always respond by addressing the committee Chair first followed by the Mr. committee member who asked the question (i.e., “Mr. Chair, Senator —, thank you for your question”). 

Contacting legislators before or after a hearing:

You can contact legislators through the legislative services phone number and email at the top of this page or you can use the legislature’s website to find their direct e-mail and phone number. You can also send them your comments in writing to:

  • Montana Senate, P.O. Box 200500, Helena, MT 59620, or 
  • Montana House of Representatives, P.O. Box 200400, Helena, MT 59620

When You Call to a Legislator

  • Have a script of what you would like to say. You are likely to get their voicemail. Please be respectful and keep your message short
  • If you talk to a legislator or they call back, address them as Senator or Representative
  • Say your name and where you are from
  • Provide a bill number and a very brief description
  • Be brief, honest, explicit, and courteous
  • Try to provide a personal perspective 
  • Don’t overstate your case and always admit if you don’t know an answer
  • Thank them for their time
  • Follow-up with any information you promise to provide

It’s up to us to stand up for our public wildlife, lands, waters and public access to enjoy them.

MWF Objects to Insurrection at Capitols

The last week has been a challenging time for our entire nation. The deadly, unprecedented attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob was totally unacceptable and a direct assault on our Constitution and values as Americans. And now law enforcement is reporting credible threats that more violence could be coming, including here in Montana. This must stop, immediately. This is not who we are.

For eight decades, MWF has engaged in vigorous public engagement in the democratic process.  We were founded when a handful of average Montanans decided to stand up to the Robber Barons who pulled the strings at the State Capitol – and for 85 years we’ve fought special interests to protect the right of every Montanan to enjoy our outdoors and natural heritage.

We have never been shy about disagreements or leading peaceful protests. We know that fights in our Republic are settled by vigorous but peaceful debate, not violence, nor even the threat of violence. Armed intimidation of lawmakers is contrary to the values of our state, our citizens and our community.  Remember, just a few years ago, MWF co-led a thousand Montanans to peacefully and legally rally in our Capitol – without a single act of violence or vandalism. We support free and fair elections, and the results of those elections, regardless of partisanship. The election of 2020 is no different: some candidates won, some lost, and there has been no evidence whatsoever of widespread irregularities in Montana nor across the country. We at MWF pride ourselves at reaching across the aisle to both Republicans and Democrats in Helena and Washington to advance our mission in support of wildlife, habitat and access. We fervently believe that conservation brings people together. The safety of law enforcement, journalists, local, state and federal employees, lawmakers and their staff and of course, the public, should never be in jeopardy as they carry out the People’s business.

During this trying time – and whatever times are ahead – know that MWF will continue to support our country, the rights enshrined in our Constitution, and the right and responsibility of all Montanans to participate in the democratic process.

 

Sincerely,

The MWF Board of Directors

2021 Legislation Toolkit

To be successful, MWF needs one thing: YOU. It’s important that the voices of parents, grandparents, community members and others are heard by our legislators and the Governor so they know how important Montana’s wildlife and wild places are to you. Together, with your support, we’ll again achieve great things for Montana.

Check out these strategies to get your lawmaker’s attention and advocate for Montana’s wildlife, habitat, and public access. You can also download a PDF version of this toolkit.

THE BASICS

As a Legislative Action Team Member You Will:

-Receive insider updates and breaking news as bills are moving during the session.

-Safely engage in online advocacy using your own social media accounts.

-Build relationships with other conservation advocates.

-Get previews of bills that are scheduled for hearings each week.

-Have opportunities and expert help weighing in with your legislators on wildlife, habitat, and access priorities.

-Engage with other Montana conservation advocates and leverage grassroots action to make our collective voice heard.

BEST PRACTICES

TAG MWF AND USE #MWFSHOWSUP

This helps us to see your stories! By tagging or using our hashtag you’re letting us know which bills, issues, and places matter to you.

MAINTAIN CIVILITY

Always be polite online. Do not use all capital letters to make a point since it may be perceived that you are yelling. Avoid cuss words.

USE PICTURES

When possible, include a photo of you, landscape, wildlife, or live streaming events.

FOLLOW UP

Be persistent and your message will get through. You might not get a response the first time when you Tweet at your decision-makers or leave your elected officials a comment on their Facebook page.

FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL 
FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | YOUTUBE

@MTWildlife https://twitter.com/MTWildlife

@MontanaWildlife https://www.facebook.com/MontanaWildlife/

@MTWildlife https://www.instagram.com/mtwildlife

@MontanaWildlife Federation http://bit.ly/MontanaWildlifeYouTube

 

TIPS FOR INSTAGRAM

When applicable, tag your elected officials, partners, or supporters of conservation issues in MT in the image to notify them and continue building the relationship.

Make sure to share photos and videos taken in your community.

Use #MWFShowsUP and don’t forget to tag us @mtwildlife.

TIPS FOR FACEBOOK

Tag us @MontanaWildlife!  When applicable, tag your elected officials, partners, or supporters of conservation issues in MT in the image to notify them and continue building the relationship.

Comment and share our posts. This will help boost our reach.

TIPS FOR TWITTER

Use #MWFSHOWSUP

Help us create a spike. To demonstrate broad support for an issue, we will be hosting “Day of Action.” 

Tag us @mtwildlife!

Creating videos for use on social media is a great way for MWF to share your story. Two powerful ways we can use video are 1) recording testimonials and 2) live-streaming events. Use these tips to create high-quality videos that MWF can use to further protect and preserve Montana’s wildlife, access, and habitat.

BELOW ARE SOME IDEAS FOR YOUR VIDEO:

Respond to the prompt “Why do you advocate for Montana’s wildlife?”

I am calling on you to support bill #___

Respond to one of the following questions:

What impact has public lands had on your life or your community?

What do you want people to know about Montana’s wildlife?

Why do you love the Montana’s public lands?

What would you tell people who want to become supports for MWF?

 

GUIDE TO WRITING LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:

Pick a timely topic. Newspapers rarely publish letters on topics that are not already being covered in the news.

Research Guidelines. Most paper’s length limit on LTEs is around 250 words. Stick to this so that an editor does not cut out the important points of your letter.

Do not assume that your readers are informed about your topic. Give a concise but informative background before plunging into the main issue.

Also include any relevant credentials that prove you are informed about your topic.

Find a local angle Readers are more interested in an issue when they see how it affects their lives and communities.

Joined the Legislative Action Team and missed one of our calls? Watch the previous meetings here.

QUESTIONS?

Connect with MWF’s Conservation Director Nick Gevock at ngevock@mtwf.org.

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