HELENA - One day after a Montana lawmaker was banned from the floor of the Montana House of Representatives, the drama continued to unfold.
Democratic Representative Zooey Zephyr of Missoula spent much of the day working from a bench outside the door — with a sticky note reading "Seat 31" placed on the wall above her.
The House voted along party lines on Wednesday to bar Zephyr from the House floor for the rest of the session after Republicans say Zephyr encouraged a protest earlier in the week that put lawmakers in danger.
Meanwhile, the House gallery remained locked once again to visitors on Thursday, something political insiders say is extremely rare.
The Missoula City Council issued a statement of support for Representative Zephyr on Thursday, saying her experience and commitment to those she represents is being attacked by the legislature.
"Representative Zephyr carries the voice of those who elected her to represent them in this 68th legislative session. Representative Zephyr should be able to speak and vote on the floor of the House. We urge the legislature to reinstitute Representative Zephyr and put Montana on the right side of history."
Read the full statement below:
"As elected officials we stand in support of Representative Zooey Zephyr. In the past week, the Montana Legislature's actions to silence Representative Zephyr have been immoral and anti democratic. Using the power of the majority to censor the minority is exactly what our democracy seeks to prohibit. Representative Zephyr’s lived experience and steadfast commitment to those she represents is being attacked by this legislature.
Further, any perceived issue of decorum has long since been eclipsed by the extreme heavy handedness in punishing Representative Zephyr. Representative Zephyr carries the voice of those who elected her to represent them in this 68th legislative session. Representative Zephyr should be able to speak and vote on the floor of the House. We urge the legislature to reinstitute Representative Zephyr and put Montana on the right side of history."
Signed by City Councilors:
Missoula County Commissioners Josh Slotnick, Juanita Vero and Dave Strohmaier and Missoula Mayor Jordan Hess previously released a statement in support of Zephyr.
"In banning Rep. Zephyr from the House floor, lawmakers have silenced the voice of 11,000 of Missoula County's constituents. We are proud to follow Rep. Zephyr's lead in being courageous and having clarity of purpose in the face of devastating decisions that cause real harm to our constituents. We join her in standing up and fighting for members of our community who will face more difficulty, adversity and harm because of the policies this Legislature has passed. We see you and we support you."