HELENA - The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on a trio of bills Thursday morning to extend the life of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) task force, after Senate Bill 4 passed in the Senate Wednesday.
Now if adopted, these three bills would add additional provisions to the task force already in place.
Rep. Stewart-Peregoy, a Crow Agency Democrat, drafted the bills. The first of those bills, HB 35, seeks to establish a missing indigenous persons review commission, which would examine the trends and patterns associated with the issue, as well as educate the public and law enforcement while creating strategies for investigation and prevention. One proponent of the task force spoke Thursday about his personal experience:
"You need to start helping native people on these reservations and off the reservations,” Josh Butterfly said. “Because they have feelings, they have families, you know, and a lot of times why these cases go cold is the color of their skin."
In addition, HB 36 would establish a grant program for the missing persons response team to fund training opportunities. HB 98 would extend the lifetime of the task force an additional two years.
"What I am grateful for is these bills and the people that have helped this come together, and the statistics and the loopholes that are being addressed," Colleen Campbell, a proponent of the bill, said.
On the Senate side, SB 4 also seeks to extend the lifetime of the task force, officially passed on 41 to 9 vote Thursday, and has been sent over to the House.