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As you read this, Gov. Greg Gianforte is poised to sign House Bill 481, another in a stunning parade of regressive laws by the Montana legislature designed to thwart free speech, undermine our environment and favor corporate rights over those of the individual.

The bill would significantly increase penalties — including fines and jail time — for those trespassing or damaging a wide variety of fossil fuels and related installations. The law may at first sound reasonable, but we already have entirely adequate laws to protect corporations’ private property.

So why do we need HB 481? We don’t. Its intent is not to protect, but to intimidate and punish anyone bold enough to protest the often reckless actions of some of our dirtiest industries. The irony is that this and similar bills are conceived and pushed under the banner of freedom and liberty, but their true purpose is to bulldoze peaceful protest — and freedom of speech — to make way for any ill-conceived project a large corporation would like to pursue.

Please call Gianforte today at 855-318-1330 or email him at svc.mt.gov/gov/contact/shareopinion to urge him to veto HB 481 — and actually support what our glorious flag stands for.

Sneed Collard,

Missoula

This article originally ran on missoulian.com.

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