Rep. Mallerie Stromswold, R-Billings, is resigning her seat in the Legislature, she announced Saturday morning.
“It is with mixed emotions that I announce my resignation as the Representative for House
District 50, effective immediately,” she wrote in a statement. “Serving the Billings community has been an incredible privilege that I don’t take lightly. The people I’ve met along this journey taught me so much, and I’ve developed many friendships I’ll keep with me throughout my life.”
Stromswold, 21, cited not only the difficulty of balancing student life with legislative service, but also “significant backlash from members of my caucus because I did not fall in line.”
“Too many have experienced an openly hostile work environment and understand the strain it takes on your life and mental health,” she wrote.
She was not immediately available for an interview with Montana Free Press Saturday but said that she has submitted her resignation to the Montana secretary of state. A spokesperson for the secretary of state did not respond to a request for confirmation in time for publication.
In her 2021 freshman session, Stromswold quickly established herself as a libertarian-minded Republican willing to buck the party on big issues. This was on display in January of that year, when she voted against two bills in the House Judiciary Committee pertaining to the rights of transgender Montanans: one requiring that transgender student athletes participate in sports teams corresponding to their sex as assigned at birth, and another that would prohibit doctors from providing gender-affirming treatment to minors. The former bill passed but is currently blocked in court, while the latter died in a dramatic House floor vote.
“My whole political ideology lays with the fact that I don’t think we should control people’s lives,” she said at the time. “I really just don’t understand why people are so threatened by other people’s decisions that they feel the need to control them. This decision isn’t hurting us in any way.”
Stromswold attempted to resign her seat last year. In August 2022, she submitted a letter to the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee withdrawing from her campaign for re-election, but the county committee did not notify the secretary of state in time to get her name removed from the ballot. She ultimately resolved to serve in the 2023 session, she told Montana Free Press in November.
At the time, she primarily cited her mental and physical health, though also acknowledged that she had faced ostracization from fellow Republicans and that there “were some factors that made Helena not the most pleasant place for me.”
It now falls to the Yellowstone County GOP Central Committee to select a replacement for Stromswold, subject to approval by the county board of commissioners. This session, Stromswold sat on the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Transportation and State Administration committees.
“The Montana Legislature was designed for people — often men — who have flexible schedules with steady and significant incomes,” she wrote in her resignation letter this week. “But our state is so much more than one type of person. Legislative systems need to adapt so that more young people, students, single parents, and those living on low incomes can serve. It is also critical that representatives focus more on policy solutions and less on party divisiveness.”
Health care provider rates remain in limbo
In total, Republicans and Democrats approved roughly $330 million in new state and federal funds to support Medicaid rate increases. But when it comes to the budget, nothing about provider rates will be official until House Bill 2 is signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte and the new rates have an effective date on the calendar.
Montanan on Medicaid? Let us hear from you.
We’d like to hear more from Montanans on Medicaid who are trying to figure out their next steps. Have you been contacted by the state health department about your eligibility? What are your future plans for health care coverage? You can let us know by filling out a short questionnaire.
Why Montana college tuition is on the rise
In early May, Montana’s Board of Regents approved a series of tuition increases for resident and nonresident students on university system campuses over the next two years. For in-state students, that means the cost of higher education will grow 4% per year in 2024 and 2025. For out-of-state graduate and undergraduate students, the increase will be roughly 6%.