The National Day of the Cowboy has broken out of the gate in a big way to kick off 2019. At 9:27 AM on March 28, 2019, the Arkansas House of Representatives voted to pass the National Day of the Cowboy bill, which had already been passed by the AR senate. Volunteers Jennifer Michaels and Marshall Mitchell traveled to Little Rock twice, to speak in support of the bill. It now moves on to the Arkansas governor for signing.
Just a few days later, we received word from volunteer, Rick Thompson at the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, that on the afternoon of April 1, 2019, the North Dakota legislature also passed the National Day of the Cowboy bill. This means we are now up to fourteen states that have passed the National Day of the Cowboy bill permanently into law. Those states are; Wyoming (#1), California (#2), New Mexico (#3), Arizona (#4), Oklahoma (#5), Oregon (#6), Mississippi (#7), Kansas(#8), Virginia (#9), Texas (#10), Idaho (#11), Indiana (#12), Arkansas (#13) and North Dakota (#14).
Our bill was also heard and voted on in the Montana legislature. The bill, SJR0010, as sponsored by Senator Kenneth Bogner, passed in their senate in March. I was later able to travel to Helena, as was Whitefish, Montana resident, Ted Valentiner, to testify in front of the House committee then considering it. A few weeks after that hearing, on April 4th, the House delivered quite a surprise to the cowboy and ranching communities of Montana (and cowboys the world over) when it voted against recognizing the Day of the Cowboy. The vote was 44 in favor, 56 opposed. This was the first time a floor vote had ended in defeat of the bill.
As luck would have it, Montana’s House vote came to the attention of Sean Gleason, the CEO of PBR. Sean was shocked that Montana, a state in which he holds a multi million dollar PBR event that has gone on for 24 years, would vote against a day to honor cowboys. He immediately wrote a post on FB in which he proposed cancelling that event in Billings in 2020. At the end of his post, he confessed he would never do that to the cowboys and cowgirls who participate in the event, nor to the loyal fans who have supported it all those years.
But the House legislators heard him loud and clear nevertheless, and soon voted on a ‘blast’ motion to reintroduce the bill and allow it to be reconsidered. The blast vote and the readings passed the second time around. The senate then had to reintroduce it and vote again as well. Finally, on the morning of April 24th, the final vote was taken and SJR0010 was passed in perpetuity, giving Montana 15th place on our list of states recognizing the National Day of the Cowboy.
At this time, our bill is also still alive in the legislatures of Missouri and Tennessee, so we’re hoping they will both pass the bill before their respective legislative sessions end. We’ve all been holding our breath hoping to have at least fifteen states to mark our fifteenth anniversary, but we of course wouldn’t be opposed to having seventeen states before July 27th. . Our bill sponsor in Tennessee is Representative Sam Whitson. The sponsor in Missouri is Representative Warren Love.
I cannot stress enough how important it is for citizens to call their legislators when they want to see a measure passed. Simply call them up, give your name, name the bill you support (including the number if you have it), and politely express at least one reason why you are in favor of the bill. Call as many legislators as you are able. Don’t limit yourself to just your own representatives.