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When Greg Gianforte was elected governor last November, he told supporters of the need to reduce economic burdens on working families in the face of an unprecedented global pandemic. Yet a cursory look at the priorities of the current legislative session tells a far different story that of a Montana GOP more interested in fanning culture war flames than creating substantive policy that uplifts everyday Montanans.

Time and time again, we've seen Republicans in Helena propose bills that target marginalized groups, restrict voting rights, and gut essential government services. HB 113 (thankfully killed in the house) and HB 112 use blatant misinformation and mask-off bigotry to restrict the rights of transgender Montanans. Four bills have been proposed that would restrict women’s fundamental right to an abortion and have damaging impacts on reproductive health care in our state.

Several bills have been proposed that would make it more difficult to vote in Montana, including HB 176, which would end same-day voter registration. These subtle attempts at disenfranchisement are quite curious, since the Republican majority legislature was elected through a massive 81% turnout.

Finally, in the midst of a global pandemic, Republicans have proposed a $1 billion cut to DPHHS. Vulnerable people will suffer because of this while the wealthy benefit from cushy tax breaks.

What does any of this do for everyday people who are struggling to make ends meet? The proponents of these bills are more interested in feeding the narratives of reactionary right-wing media outlets than uplifting all of us during these troubling times. We deserve far better from our elected officials, and I would encourage everyone to follow this legislative session closely and make your voices heard.

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Bryce Neal