The Roundup -

Letter to the Editor: Legislature Enters Final Month


April 10, 2019 | View PDF

The past two weeks have been some of the biggest weeks in the House during the session.

Contentious bills we took up in the House included Representative Buttrey’s Medicaid Reform and Integrity Act, as well as the Infrastructure Bonding Bill.

I supported Representative Buttrey’s bill because I believe in the reforms it makes to the Medicaid law set to expire in June without reauthorization. The resolution from the Sidney Health Center Board of Trustees asking me to support continuation of the program was helpful to my decision. I also heard from constituents that they supported new work-requirements for able-bodied adults, which the reformed law includes, with a contingency sunset provision to the entire law that would be triggered if work requirements were invalidated.

I supported the Infrastructure Bonding bill (HB 652) because it will help our district, the entire state, and our eastern Montana neighbors. It included: $125,000 for Savage Irrigation District, $125,000 for Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project, $1.3 million for the Makoshika State Park Waterline, $500,000 for Scobey (water), $625,000 for Circle (water system improvements), $600,000 for Baker (water), $750,000 for Plentywood (wastewater), and $100,000 for Fallon County (Baker Lake Restoration). It also creates the Delivering Local Assistance Grant Program with $14 million dedicated to helping natural resource impacted communities and schools.

House Bill 8 – that helps fund rural water projects like Dry Redwater – was also being held up, unless HB 652 passed. Knowing the importance of this funding, I didn’t want to see HB 8 fail.

Priority bills I’ve sponsored have passed the House and are now in the Senate.

HB 656, that would bring more oil and gas tax revenue back from the state to our cities and towns in oil and gas producing counties had a great hearing in House Taxation and passed out unanimously. It passed the House 89-10. I credit that result to having unified support from oil and gas producers, counties and cities. It was very helpful to have local city and county officials in Helena to testify in favor of this important legislation.

HB 405, the Catch and Keep Montana’s Treasure Act that provides incentives to help rural communities with recruiting and retention of skilled workers and professionals passed the House and will have a Senate hearing this week. It continues to drive an important conversation about the challenges and future of rural Montana.

HB 660 to create a Mobile Crisis Unit Grant Pilot Program will have its first hearing in the Senate this week after passing the House. This bill continues my focus on addressing mental health issues and ways we can support suicide prevention efforts.

HB 389 to reduce regulations and fees on our farmers and ranchers hauling hay was unfortunately tabled in the Senate Transportation Committee, after passing the House with a strong 90-5 mark. I am working with Senator Hinebauch and others to explore options to untable the bill and move it forward.

Please feel free to contact me on any legislation during this last month of the legislative session.


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