Social Action and Policy

Legislative Committee

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Chair: Adrienne Bombelles:

Purpose: This committee is responsible for monitoring, evaluating, recommending and introducing legislation for the purpose of enhancing the profession of social work in Montana and supporting and promoting social justice outcomes for diverse marginalized groups, especially in Montana.

We are currently seeking NASW members to join this committee and encourage you to email Adrienne to learn more. Meetings are currently held virtually every other month on the fourth Thursday from 6-7pm. During session we will have more frequent opportunities to connect via Slack and other means.

2023 Legislative Session

NASW-Montana Members,

As the 2023 legislative session begins, we will be tracking social work and social justice related bills through our Legislative Committee. Using the NASW Code of Ethics as a guide, we will examine bills and take positions of support and opposition.

As a chapter, we understand that we must be very strategic on how we spend our political capital. We want to be sure we are using our voice on behalf of social workers across Montana, and our members will also help guide the positions we take on bills.

As a committee, we are committed to taking our time to ensure we understand a bill before we take a position on it. We also encourage you, our members to do your part by contacting your legislators and supporting or opposing legislation that affects you and the populations you serve. As we know, Montana politicians listen to their constituents (YOU!) and if there is a bill that you are hoping to take action on, we encourage you to do so. 

To find your local representatives, visit the Montana Legislator Lookup.
To learn how you can testify virtually and get on a bill's schedule, click here.

As we identify bills that we intend to take a stance on, we will post information below for each. Feel free to use the talking points we create to engage your legislator and reach out if you want to join the Policy Committee and be part of making decisions around various bills!


NASW-MT's Position: In Support

Bill Summary: HB 649 would raise rates to those recommended by the Governor's Provider Rate Study to cover costs as identified in 2019 data.

Legislator Talking Points:

  • The Legislature needs to fund the full recommendations and an annual COLA for community-based behavioral health in your communities as requested in HB649.
  • We appreciate the JAS Appropriations Committee providing additional funding, but the rates remain below the basic cost of providing care and should be raised to the full recommended rates from the Governor’s rate study.
  • No business can survive being paid less than the cost of care and more homes, beds, and programs will need to be closed unless the full costs are covered.
  • My organization will need to lay off _____ FTEs and close ____ homes/programs/beds if the full cost of covering care is not covered by the Medicaid rates.
  • Advocate for an annual Medicaid cost-of-living increase for mental health and substance use providers similar to the one that physicians receive. Once we get the rates up to market, we want to make sure that another expensive rate study isn’t required in the future.


NASW-MT's Position: In Support

Bill Summary: SB141, if passed, will create a legacy clause allowing experienced social workers to secure the LBSW or LMSW without additional burdens such as taking an exam, seeking supervision hours and applying as a candidate.

Legislator Talking Points:

  • We will see an increase of experienced social workers across Montana.
  • We will see more professionals who are eligible for positions that need to be filled and increase our ability to serve citizens in need.

SB141 (bill failed)

NASW-MT's Position: In Support

Bill Summary: SB141, if passed, will change the title of the legal holiday falling on the second Monday in October from "Columbus Day " to "Indigenous Peoples’ Day" in Montana.

Legislator Talking Points:

  • By changing the name of this day, we will increase awareness of Indigenous People and celebrate their resilience and culture.
  • This bill will honor the twelve tribes across Montana and show that we as Montanans value and respect their history.


NASW-MT's Position: In Opposition

Bill Summary: SB99 sets restrictions on healthcare professionals and limits their ability to provide gender-affirming care to minors. It also establishes penalties for professionals who offer this care to a child and their family.

Legislator Talking Points:


NASW-MT's Position: In Opposition

Bill Summary: HB359, if passed, would ban children from attending drag shows and from drag shows. It would prevent drag from occurring in public places. This bill was transmitted to the senate on 2/24/23

Legislator Talking Points: Drag shows have been a place for individuals in the LGBTQ+ community to connect and feel welcome for many years. If this bill is passed it sends a message that drag is bad. This could harm children and others who have trouble feeling welcome in spaces that accept drag and trans community members. This bill goes against an individual's right to self determination stated in our social work code of ethics


NASW-MT's Position: In Opposition

Bill Summary: HB 303, if passed, would allow medical providers to discriminate against patients without consequence if passed. This bill was transmitted to the senate on 2/7/23

Legislator Talking Points: As social workers, our primary goal is to help people in need. Any form of discrimination goes against our code of ethics and creates injustices.


NASW-MT's Position: In Opposition

Bill Summary: HB361, if passed would encourage and normalize individuals to use a person’s dead name and receive no repercussions. This bill was transmitted to the senate on 2/17/23.

Legislator Talking Points: Harms persons who have changed their name to better fit their sense of self. We know this causes extreme emotional and physical distress to people who are going through a naming transition.


NASW-MT's Position: In Opposition

Bill Summary: Parts of HB458 would erase the existence of transgender, nonbinary and two spirit people. It also threatens marriage equality and forces trans individuals to misgender themselves on identity documents. This bill was transmitted to the senate on 2/24/23

Legislator Talking Points: By preventing people from getting accurate identifying documents, misgendering them on marriage certificates, revoking marriage equality and preventing trans people from participating in sports, we are creating harm to many Montanans. We will see an increase in behavioral health need due to this harm which we can not afford. 


NASW-MT's Position: In Support

Bill Summary: HB101 establishes that behavioral health professionals who are licensed and in good standing in another state can obtain a license in Montana if they are a new residents and certain conditions exist.

Legislator Talking Points:

  • Makes it easier for fully licensed clinicians moving from out of state into MT to secure their MT licensure more quickly.
  • Positively impacts access to social workers and other behavioral health professionals for all Montanans.
  • Encourages clinicians to move to Montana, not just get a Montana license allowing for in-person counseling opportunities.
  • Keeps the possibility of interstate compact licenses separate which allows for a different path towards that license type in the future.


NASW-MT's Position: In Opposition

Bill summary: SB115 would revise child and neglect laws and change the definition of the term "psychological abuse or neglect". the bill specifically aims to require that a child be diagnosed with a mental disorder to constitute an act or omission resulting in psychological abuse or neglect.

Legislator Talking Points:

  • Removes the word "emotional" from the definition of psychological abuse or neglect. By striking this word, we narrow our definition of abuse and send the signal that what the victim feels emotionally is not important. Psychological and emotional go hand-in-hand and we believe keeping both words in this section of the bill creates a more accurate definition of abuse.
  • Negatively impacts children experiencing abuse, their families and communities by requiring a DSM 5 diagnosis.
  • Trauma, especially in children, can take years to manifest and be diagnosed properly. A diagnosis immediately following a traumatic event is unrealistic and puts undue burden on victims, their families and mental health professionals.
  • Diagnosing psychological abuse or neglect prematurely is unethical and inappropriate for our profession and goes against our Code of Ethics.