MY Experience

Higher Education

I have had the opportunity to undertake a variety of leadership roles and responsibilities throughout my Montana upbringing. In college, I was elected to serve as the President of the Associated Students of the University of Montana. In this role, I advocated passionately on behalf of students, staff, and faculty during the 2013 legislative session. I helped build support for Governor Bullock’s tuition freeze proposal, and contributed to the Montana University System efforts, which resulted in one of the most successful legislative sessions for Higher Education in recent memory. Our team's collective efforts ultimately helped to pass progressive bills during the 2013 Legislative Session:

  1. Full “Present Law Adjustment” funding for the University System – part of the Governor’s tuition freeze proposal, this $32 million increase in state funding was a huge win for students, faculty, and the state as a whole. It will keep in-state tuition from rising during the next two years, helping to ensure higher education remains accessible to all Montanans.
  2. State Employee Pay Plan – this bill resulted in a raise for all state employees, including University System faculty and staff, after a long pay freeze. This policy helps to guarantee our neighbors and educators fair and sustainable pay.
  3. Governor Bullock’s JOBS Bill: “Jobs and Opportunities by Building Schools” – funded construction on many crucial building and renovation projects across the University System. This bill was successful in large part because of a massive grassroots effort across the state by students, staff, and faculty.
 Zach and his colleagues at ASUM, Bryn Hagfors and Micah Nielsen, worked closely with the 2013 Montana legislature on issues relating to the Montana University System.

Zach and his colleagues at ASUM, Bryn Hagfors and Micah Nielsen, worked closely with the 2013 Montana legislature on issues relating to the Montana University System.


CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

In 2017, I was able to write and pass bipartisan legislation into law that authorizes Montana's courts to limit public access to adult conviction records. On April 13, Governor Steve Bullock signed into law my House Bill 168, giving district courts the power to “expunge” the records of misdemeanor convictions after completion of sentence. This makes Montana the 30th state since 2012 to enact some form of record-closing law, or to expand an existing one. The possibility of full destruction of the record for all misdemeanor convictions makes Montana’s one of the more ambitious collateral consequences reform measures of the past several years. Read more about this successful reform here.

You want to be able to give people an opportunity to be basic participants, and that requires housing, access to credit. Rehabilitated convicts often have a harder time with those things, and that leads to recidivism.

We’re not going to be punitive and require people being completely defined by a low point in their lives or a mistake that they’ve made.
— Zach Brown, Billings Gazette 2017

Opioid prescription reform

During the 2017 session, I introduced legislation that would limit first time opioid prescriptions to a 7-day supply. Despite severe opposition from the Montana Medical Association, I passed it out of committee and onto the House floor before it was eventually defeated.

FEB 2017: The Montana House Human Services Committee voted 12-3 to approve a bill to regulate prescription opioid drug access Wednesday night.

HB 409, sponsored by Rep. Zach Brown, D-Bozeman, looks to limit first-time opioid prescriptions to a seven-day prescription and require parental consent if the patient is a minor, as well as require identification to pick up the prescription at the pharmacy. The seven-day limit comes with concessions for patients with chronic pain, post-surgery pain and pain associated with cancer.

“It’s just to the point where we need to do something and I think this is a pretty reasonable first step,” Brown told the Tribune earlier Wednesday.
— Great Falls Tribune (https://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/local/2017/02/22/committee-passes-bill-limit-opioid-access/98284060/)