Week 3 Legislative Report
January 30, 2019 | View PDF
After a slow but steady start, the legislative session is now getting busy as we finished week three. Another way I know things must be ramping up is by the rapidly increasing number of emails I’ve been getting the past few weeks.
The high point this past week was the House passing HB159, the K-12 school inflationary increase funding bill by a vote of 97-3. Republicans and Democrats agreed to make it a priority to get this education bill to the Governor’s desk early in the session to both avoid it being held until the end of session as a political bargaining chip and also to give our schools the certainty needed on funding as they set their budgets.
This week was busy for me as I presented my first bill before the House Agriculture Committee, HB 50. The Department of Agriculture asked me to carry this bill for them and I thought it would be a good first bill. I am glad to report it earned unanimous support from agriculture industry groups in the hearing, including Farm Bureau, Grain Growers and Farmers Union, with no opposition.
I have also been working these past weeks to finalize a few other bills for introduction in coming weeks.
I will be introducing LC1861, a bill to restore oil and gas revenue from the state to cities and towns in oil and gas producing counties. If passed, it will actually increase the amounts distributed to cities and towns by 33 percent from levels prior to 2017. The 2017 legislature raided this revenue stream for local governments during budget cuts and this missing funding has been felt by cities and towns who previously received this revenue.
Returning more oil and gas tax revenue to areas where the wealth is produced and where local leaders know better how to invest resources than the folks in Helena has been a priority of mine. The bill is the collaborative result of a number of conference calls I have had with mayors from across eastern Montana, Senator Richmond from Billings and the Montana League of Cities and Towns.
Another bill I am working on is LC1866, a bill to eliminate the over-height permit and fee for Montana farmers and ranchers who are using a state highway to haul from one part of their farm or ranch to another part. I heard from local farmers they were being required to pay a fee and obtain an over-height permit, even though roads they were using had no overpasses or overhanging obstructions. I am glad to cut unneeded regulations like this one and feel this is a conservative common-sense solution.
I look forward to keeping you updated on developments in Helena. As always feel free to contact me during the session by email at [email protected], phone 406-560-5952 or mail at PO Box 200400, Helena, MT 59620.