HELENA, Mont. (NMB) – A bill that would establish a Montana missing indigenous persons task force passed 18 to 1 Friday out of the House Judiciary Committee, where it was tabled earlier this month.
Tim Pierce with the UM Legislative News Service reports, Republican Senator Jason Small of Busby, who’s sponsoring Senate Bill 312, says the bill would also combine missing persons data collected from tribes. He says there’s a huge effort to use social media to find missing persons, but it’s sporadic.
“Nobody ever updates. So you don’t know if they’re found or if they are not found. And it’s not centralized, I mean, there’s probably 20 of such pages on social media right now.”
The bill is now a companion to House Bill 21, called Hanna’s Act, which would create a position in the Montana Department of Justice to investigate all missing persons cases across the state. Representative Rae Peppers from Lame Deer is sponsoring the bill.
“The people of Montana are counting on us. I cannot go into detail how many, from all parts of Montana, want this bill desperately.”
Funding for Hanna’s Act was restored in the Senate, but an amendment was added that says if Senate Bill 312 dies, so does House Bill 21.