A bill to ban requiring diversity and inclusion training for state employees was tabled in the House State Administration committee after a tie vote.
Senate Bill 222, known as the “Montana Individual Freedom Act,” and based on the Florida “Stop WOKE Act,” was sponsored by Sen. Jeremy Trebas, R-Great Falls.
The bill would have banned training that might make state employees feel “guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress.” The bill was amended to exclude state employees in the university system, as Florida’s legislation was enjoined as it applied to colleges and universities.
Rep. Paul Green, R-Hardin, said during Executive Action on March 31 that these trainings don’t need to be mandated.
“All it does is it pushes people into the dark,” Green said. “If you shove that deeper, it is going to create something worse. People in their own hearts need to learn how to change.”
Rep. Denise Baum, D-Billings, who works as a detective for the Billings Police Department, said the training is helpful for law enforcement to understand diversity and is not “indoctrination” as proponents said.
“It’s called the Individual Freedom Act, and freedom from what?” she said. “What? To be informed?”
Rep. Kenneth Walsh, R-Twin Bridges, said the bill language is too vague.
“I don’t want to be indoctrinated in saying that I’m a bad person because I’m a white male,” Walsh said. “In some instances, I think it’s very important that people are trained in understanding different cultures and those type of things. So I just think the bill goes too far.”
The committee took a 7-7 vote, followed by a 18-0 motion to Table. This means in all likelihood the bill has died.
This story originally appeared in the The Daily Montanan, which can be found online at dailymontanan.com.
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