The Montana House is set to consider possible disciplinary action Wednesday against one of its members after a disruptive protest Monday in the chamber.
House leadership posted an announcement on the Legislature's website saying they will discuss a motion on Rep. Zooey Zephyr, D-Missoula, and whether her conduct during the protest "violated the rules, collective rights, safety, dignity, integrity, or decorum of the House of Representatives, and if so, whether to impose disciplinary consequences for those actions."
"To maintain decorum and ensure safety, the galleries in the House will be closed," the statement continued.
Monday, demonstrators shouted and chanted from the gallery to protest House Speaker Rep. Matt Regier's decision not to recognize Zephyr to speak on the floor.
Zephyr, a transgender woman, has not been allowed to speak on the floor since last week. Republicans objected after she said lawmakers who voted for Senate Bill 99 — a ban on gender-affirming medical procedures for transgender youth — should be ashamed and would have "blood on your hands."
Since then, Regier, R-Kalispell, has said he has concerns Zephyr wouldn't maintain decorum if he called on her, and he has refused to recognize her on the floor. He has pointed to rules that give the speaker the final say on questions of recognition. Regier told Scripps News Helena that Zephyr would be allowed to speak again once she regained "trust" and apologized.
Montana House Minority Leader Rep. Kim Abbott released a statement on the announcement from leadership.
"The Republicans are doubling down on their agenda of running roughshod over Montanans' rights — to free expression, to peaceful protest, to equal justice under the law," she said. "Montana Democrats will hold them accountable for every step they take in escalating their anti-democratic agenda."
Zephyr also responded on Twitter, saying "I will do as I have always done—rise on behalf of my constituents, in defense of my community, & for democracy itself."
I have been informed that during tomorrow’s floor session there will be a motion to either censure or expel me.
I've also been told I'll get a chance to speak. I will do as I have always done—rise on behalf of my constituents, in defense of my community, & for democracy itself. pic.twitter.com/8gD3UWPBkS
— Rep. Zooey Zephyr (@ZoAndBehold) April 26, 2023
This story was written by Jonathon Ambarian for Scripps News Billings.
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