After a long and hard-fought battle House Bill 21, or Hannah's Act, has passed the third reading in the senate. House Bill 21 is set to become law after a 37 to 13 vote.
The bill's namesake is named after Hanna Harris, who went missing and was later found murdered in Lame Deer. Earlier today, we spoke to Malinda Limberhand Harris, Hanna's mother.
She shared her thoughts on the bill's journey and ultimately, its passage.
It's been a bumpy road since representative Rae Peppers introduced House Bill 21 in the 66th legislative session. On her Facebook page, Peppers expressed herself after learning the bill passed the third reading saying, in part, "A Journey full of so many emotions, when this session ends, I will absorb all of it and think about it. At most, it was painful. But the glory at this moment is worth it!"
House Bill 21 was named Hanna's Act, honoring the Lame Deer woman who was murdered in the summer of 2013. Her mother, Malinda, has been following House Bill 21 since day one.
"I had tears of joy and I just had to remind myself this law is going to help so many people," Malinda said.
House Bill 21 had been tabled last month in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Still, the bill persevered. The bill will create a missing persons specialist within the state department of justice to assist with the investigation of all missing persons on all the reservations in Montana.
"This was a great outcome because there's a lot of people who think this bill is going to work and help," Malinda said.
Malinda said this bill would not have passed without the strength and hard work from Representative Peppers.
"We, the family, are so so proud of her and the community and probably the whole state of Montana," Malinda said. "Every tribe... she worked very hard for this and I'm glad that a bill got passed."
On May 5th, the annual walk in Lame Deer to honor the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls will not be in vain. Malinda said this year, the walk will have a sense of triumph.