WELCOME TO 2021 AND THE 67th MONTANA LEGISLATURE

Montana State Capitol
For the next four months, the voice and visibility of the nonprofit community will be paramount as we collectively advocate to solve problems and make life better for the people and communities we serve. Throughout the Session MNA will be both a partner and resource, keeping you informed and supporting your engagement in advocacy. Our role as your association is two-fold:
  1. We will advocate for the strongest possible operating environment for Montana’s nonprofit sector as a whole. In this role we monitor and/or take a position on bills that impact the sector generally, such as tax law that impacts charitable giving or laws that might prevent nonprofits from exercising the right to participate in self-governance. 
  2. We will be a resource to the nonprofit community as it relates to nonprofits’ rights and responsibilities as advocates, including lobbying. In this role we provide education about advocacy and lobbying, support your engagement in the public policy process, keep you informed about issues we’re tracking, and ask you to join us as needed to weigh in on issues that impact the sector. As an association of almost 600 nonprofit organizations, our membership brings the voice and visibility of the nonprofit community to the forefront during the Session.

How can nonprofit leaders engage in the Session safely?
Engaging advocacy this year will be challenging, but not impossible. In fact, for many nonprofits, the use of Zoom might provide increased access to the legislative process. Legislative Services has been hard at work to create an environment that promotes both access and safety for participants. Like all of us, they are limited in the tools they have at their disposal, but they have created a framework that accommodates in-person and virtual participation.

To explore options for participating in the Legislative Session, please review the Have Your Say Montana webpage on the mt.gov website. The site includes a portal for submitting written testimony, writing a message, or requesting a Zoom link to testify in the hearing. These must take place by noon the day prior to the hearing. A protocol for testifying will be in place to ensure an orderly public comment period.

What advocacy resources does MNA offer during the Session?
Throughout the Session, MNA will provide resources, updates, and Calls to Action in several ways, including:

  • Posting information on the MNA website including regular status reports like this Pre-Session Report from MNA’s Government Relations firm, Crowley Fleck.
  • Sending Friday afternoon Legislative Updates.
  • Issuing a “Call to Action” if/when immediate action is needed.
  • Hosting a free weekly conference call via Zoom from 7:30-8:00 a.m. every Friday morning while the Legislature is in Session. (Register for the Series and attend any/all sessions).
  • Providing 1:1 technical support and/or prerecorded Advocacy and Lobbying training series on request.
 
 

How does MNA decide what bills to follow and/or act on? 
MNA’s Public Policy Council provides guidance to MNA, bringing issues to our attention, and recommending action that aligns with MNA’s Public Policy Agenda and Criteria for Action.

Many of us are familiar with Alexis de Tocqueville’s work, Democracy in America, in which he observed,   

“Americans of all ages, conditions and all dispositions constantly unite together. … To hold fetes, found seminaries, build inns, construct churches, distribute books, dispatch missionaries to the antipodes. They establish hospitals, prisons, schools by the same method. Finally, if they wish to highlight a truth or develop an opinion by the encouragement of a great example, they form an association.”

Associations were the precursor to today’s voluntary or nonprofit organization. As nonprofits, we continue to be an expression of the will of the people – how we want life to be for ourselves as well as how we choose to look beyond our own interests to advance the common good.

The next four months will be challenging. None of us will be able to do everything we want, or advocate in all the ways we wish we could, but we can do well enough for the times, and that’s the job in front of us. Please call on us at MNA as needed. Together, we are many missions, one voice. 

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