Last week I reported that Montana's Senate Local Government Committee held what was described by The Missoulian as a "low key" hearing on a bill that passed Montana's House last month after fiery debate. The bill would nullify Missoula's 2010 ordinance protecting LGBT people from discrimination and prohibit local governments in the state from passing similar ordinances.
Sen. Jon Sonju, R-Kalispell, who chairs the Local Government Committee, said he learned from representatives of Missoula that not a single discrimination complaint on these grounds had been filed against any businesses in the 11 months the ordinance has been in effect. As a result, Sonju said he said he sees no need for the bill at this time.
House Bill 516, sponsored by Rep. Kristin Hansen, R-Havre, had been approved by the House and then by Sonju's committee last Friday.
Yet on Tuesday, the full Senate voted 44-5 to return the bill to the Senate Local Government Committee, apparently to kill it.
"I don't think the bill will get out of committee," Sonju said.
Hansen, the bill's sponsor isn't giving up, and says she plans to bring the bill back to the senate for debate. She also says she's been getting threats:
Also on Wednesday, at a meeting of House Republicans, Hansen played a threatening voice mail she had received regarding HB516. She said she turned it over to the Helena Police Department, which is subpoenaing the phone records. If they find who left the message, the lawmaker said she would ask that charges be brought against the caller.
The voice mail, from what appeared to be a male caller, said:
"Here are some of my thoughts for you. If I were you, I would stop spreading hate and intolerance and bigotry against people and their loved ones. The Bible says you reap what you sow, and you and your loved ones are going to get that hate back and then who knows what might happen to you."