May 1, 2019 | View PDF
The 66th Legislative Session officially came to a close on Thursday, April 25, the 87th legislative day. We came home that night, just in time to enjoy the nice rains.
Some of the bright spots of the session were that we passed some pro-life bills and some pro-gun bills. The pro-life bills were SB 100, requiring an ultrasound before an abortion, HB 500, “Pain-Capable Act”, making it illegal to have an abortion after 20 weeks, and, SB 354, “Montana Born Alive Infant Protection Act”, which requires doctors to give medical care to babies who survive an abortion. These bills passed mostly on party lines. It will be interesting to see what the Governor does. The gun bills were SB 304, which would authorize concealed carry for legislators, & sergeants-at-arms & their deputies in the capitol, and HB 325 and HB 357, which I carried on the senate floor, makes conceal carry laws consistent throughout the state. We don’t know what the Governor will do with these bills. HB 145, an act providing that when someone with a concealed carry permit moves to a different community, they do not have to notify local authorities, and HB 322, which I carried on the Senate floor, would remove the requirement to provide Social Security Numbers on concealed weapons permit applications. Both bills became law.
Another good thing we passed was a resolution that encourages the US Congress to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. We feel that if you are a citizen or not is more important to know than how many toilets or TVs are in your house. Another resolution we passed was to encourage Congress to delist the grizzly bears. Grizzlies are pushing into the plains and we think we have too many of them. We were also able to fight off the Governor’s Pre-K, which was going to cost another $30 Million. These are just a few of the many good things we passed in the legislature this session.
One of the disappointing things we did, in my opinion, was we passed Medicaid Expansion. To pay for Medicaid Expansion we had to pass several taxes, two of which were a $70 bed tax on hospital beds and .9% tax on outpatient services. Medicaid Expansion is expected to cost $1.5 Billion over the biennium, plus the state must pay the hospitals $300 Million to cover the gap between Medicaid Expansion and what hospitals actually charge. No wonder the hospitals lobbied so hard for this. They will receive almost $2 Billion over the biennium due to Medicaid Expansion. Another disappointing thing we did was, even though we are projected to spend $1.6 Billion on infrastructure this biennium, we borrowed $80 Million for more infrastructure when we had approximately $250 Million in an ending fund balance. Would you borrow $80,000 for a project if you had $250,000 in the bank? The “powers that be” always throw in a little project for each county so they could get more votes. But the fact is, most of the money in the debt bill goes to Romney Hall at MSU and a few pet projects. I voted NO on both bills. It looks like overall we are going to raise our budget at least 10%. We will have better numbers soon.
It has been an honor to represent and serve you. I look forward to seeing you sometime soon. I can be contacted by e-mail, [email protected] or phone, 365-7967.