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Armen Memic, a transgender woman from Missoula, attempts to fit in with opponents of an anti-discrimination ordinance outside Missoula City Council Chambers in Missoula in April 2010. The ordinance passed.

HELENA – Gov. Steve Bullock has signed an executive order extending nondiscrimination protections to state contractors and subcontractors, citing an expected worker shortage the administration fears could be worsened by discrimination that "drives away talented and trained workers."

The order, signed Monday, did not cite specific examples of such labor-hampering discrimination. Nor did Bullock spokesman Tim Crowe, who said the governor simply "felt it was time to update" the state's policies.

The order repeals and replaces a similar 2008 action that itself replaced a pair of orders signed in 1981 and 1982.

A statement released by Bullock's office Monday touts expanded prohibitions in state contracts meant to protect against discrimination aimed at employees or those served by the state on the basis of "genetic information, gender identity or gender expression," as well as discrimination against military veterans, and those with pregnancy- or childbirth-related medical conditions.

"Today, we remember and honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and recommit to the values and principles he fought for every day – compassion, acceptance, and equality," Bullock said in the statement, which was released on the federal holiday set aside to memorialize the slain civil rights leader. "I am honored to stand up for all Montanans to ensure that no one is denied full and equal participation in our state's workforce based on discrimination and intolerance."

Crowe said Montana's Human Rights Bureau processed 26 pregnancy-related claims in 2015.

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The Department of Administration, the agency charged with developing and implementing new policies meant to help curtail similar claims, will also be tasked with devising an internal complaint procedure to accommodate the state's expanded provisions.

Department representatives were off Monday in observance of the holiday and could not be reached for comment.

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