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The latest Montana politics, elections and Legislature news.

Bills Addressing Missing Indigenous Persons Crisis Advance

Over 100 paper bag luminaries lined the back of a conference room in Pablo, MT Aug. 27, 2019. The luminaries represent missing and murdered indigenous Montana women dating back to the early 1900s.
Aaron Bolton
/
Montana Public Radio
Over 100 paper bag luminaries lined the back of a conference room in Pablo, MT Aug. 27, 2019. The luminaries represent missing and murdered indigenous Montana women dating back to the early 1900s.

Three bills aimed at addressing the disproportionate number of Native Americans who go missing in Montana have been endorsed by the state House of Representatives. The legislation builds on work that began last session.

Rep. Sharon Stewart Peregoy, a Democrat from Crow Agency, is carrying the legislation to extend the Montana Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force, to create a commission to study trends around the crisis and to fund special training for law enforcement.

“At the end of the day, this is about lives," she said.

All three bills were drafted in the interim bipartisan State-Tribal Relations Committee. With Thursday’s unanimous passage of House Bill 98 to extend the task force on a preliminary vote, all three are poised to move onto the Senate. 

The MMIP task force was created in 2019 through a bill called Hanna’s Act, named for Hanna Harris, who was found murdered on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in 2013. In an effort to build on the work of the task force, House Bill 35 would create a review commission and House Bill 36 would fund law enforcement training.

The bills will likely advance through the Senate next week.

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