Legislative Session Heating Up
February 13, 2019 | View PDF
The first weeks of the legislature were filled with many clean-up bills, often passing with between 70 and 100 percent support. Now the House Floor debates are getting more spirited and the decisions to vote yea or nay are a little more difficult to make on complicated issues.
I passed my first legislation out of the House, 83-16. HB 50 dealt with commodity dealers and warehouses. This week I presented it to the Senate Agriculture Committee.
One highlight of my week was introducing HB 405, the Catch and Keep Montana’s Treasure Act, along with a bipartisan group of nine cosponsoring legislators from across Montana. This legislation was crafted through the input of community leaders and is aimed at helping rural Montana with recruitment and retention of skilled workers to promote economic growth.
The Catch and Keep program will offer grants, matched by local and private capital, along with tax credits for skilled workers willing to make a 5 year commitment to live and work in a rural Montana community. It is similar to a Kansas program that has seen success. The Kansas program has provided an estimated return to their economy of roughly $6 for every $1 invested in grants. Details are available at: https://leg.mt.gov/bills/2019/billpdf/LC1034.pdf.
Another high point was having Fairview High School Senior Allyson Young at the Capitol to work as a Page. She did a great job of helping out in the House of Representatives and I was glad to recommend her for the opportunity!
I also introduced HB 389 to remove the over-height permit and fee for local agriculture producers using state roads without an overpass or overhang on them.
Our Business and Labor Committee that I serve on, heard HB 261 that sought to expand permits for beer and wine sales to amateur youth sports. Our committee voted the legislation down on a bipartisan 10-9 vote. I voted against the legislation because my priority is to support policy that makes our communities stronger and more wholesome. Given our state already has a substance abuse problem, I didn’t think having alcohol served at amateur youth sporting events sent the right message to our youth.
The Conservative Solutions Caucus within the Montana Republican Party has also been in the news lately. I’ve enjoyed working with this group of 25-30 other lawmakers since I’ve been in Helena because they are a refreshing group of problem-solvers, who shun the sound bite culture, nay saying, and hyper-partisanship that has been hurting our state and country. Our focus is on crafting conservative legislation that puts the needs of our constituents first and also has a good chance of being signed into law by the governor.
The group is filled with leaders carrying legislation as diverse as the State Pay Plan, K-12 education funding, school safety, expanding opportunities for career technical education, consistent and reliable infrastructure funding and work force development.
The approach I have taken to the legislature is to work with people from across the political spectrum, Republicans, Democrats, and everyone in between, on policies that have merit and will benefit Richland County. I have also been working towards common sense solutions, cutting burdensome regulations and limiting the growth of government.