By Katy Spence
With Montana moving to a more hybrid legislative session this year came the return of an MEIC favorite: in-person events. MEIC has attended, promoted, and hosted a number of events this session, including Conservation Lobby Days, Legislative Roadshows, online events with a host of organizations, and rallies, rallies, rallies.
Here are some highlights of our busy legislative event season.
‘Tis the season for rallies! MEIC has participated in several rallies this session. Hundreds gathered at the Climate Advocacy Rally on Jan. 20 to urge legislators to keep the climate in mind as they considered legislation. MEIC’s Anne Hedges urged attendees to emphasize the need for action now, as we’re running out of time to take meaningful climate action. A special shoutout to Families for a Livable Climate for organizing this great event with a wide range of inspiring Native American speakers and young people.
Feb. 1’s We Love Our Montana Constitution Rally gathered people from around the state to tell our legislators: No changes to our Montana Constitution! A non-partisan lineup emphasized broad support for our Constitution, and the event ended with a cheeky song to stick in legislators’ heads. Thanks to Northern Plains Resource Council for taking the lead to organize this bipartisan event.
The Public Lands Rally on Feb. 23 was a chilly but always meaningful gathering, featuring a diversity of speakers and a crowd of outdoor enthusiasts. These are some of our most staunch supporters when it comes to environmental work, as clean air and clean water are the foundation of a healthy outdoors.
Our latest rally was the March 15 Rally to Defend Montana’s Constitution. MEIC worked with a huge group of organizations that span issue areas and expertise to make this event a success. This rally focused on threatened Constitutional rights, such as a Fair and Impartial, Free and Open Elections, Right to a Clean and Healthful Environment, and Right to Privacy. Thanks to our partners for helping to make the day a huge success.
Mica is one of 16 youth plaintiffs in Held v. Montana and spoke at the Rally to Defend Montana’s Constitution. Photo by Katy Spence.
Conservation Lobby Days
One of MEIC staff’s favorite events is Conservation Lobby Day, where members come to Helena to work with conservation organizations to learn more deeply about issues they care about before being set loose in the Capitol to engage with legislators.
This year, we worked with Montana Audubon, Montana Conservation Voters, Montana Renewable Energy Association, and Northern Plains Resource Council to cover a wide swath of conservation issues over three events.
If you can’t come to Helena, we’ll try to come to you! This session, we visited six communities around the state to meet our members in person and talk about what we’re seeing in the Capitol and how they can help. Seeing our members in person is inspiring for us and helps remind us why we do what we do.
MEIC staff and board enjoyed meeting new folks at our Kalispell Legislative Roadshow. Photo by Renata Harrison.
Each week, MEIC has hosted our Weekly Legislative Update, and each week, we’re impressed and buoyed by our members’ attention and thoughtful questions. This regular touchpoint is vital to ensure we’re all working together to influence legislation and stop the bad bills while supporting the good ones. We’re often joined by folks from our partner organizations, such as Montana Audubon and Forward Montana. We’ll continue to meet on Thursdays until the end of the session, and it’s never too late to join. We’ll be glad to see you.
This article was published in the March 2023 issue of Down To Earth.