The Roundup -

Guest Opinion: Rep. Brandon Ler Legislative Update Weeks 5 & 6


February 17, 2021 | View PDF

Hello from Helena!

The House of Representatives continues to be busy hearing and voting on important legislature. I appreciate all of the input I’ve received from Richland County residents on each of these important proposals.

We recently heard HB 325, which proposed to break Montana into seven districts able to elect a Supreme Court justice. This would bring better representation to Eastern Montana, and my constituents overwhelmingly support this bill. This would be put to the Montana voters in 2022 to determine whether this becomes law.

One bill that I’ve received a lot of feedback on is HB 324, which is the “country of origin placarding bill”, or the COOP bill. Many have mistaken this bill for the COOL bill, or the country of origin label. The COOL bill required every package of meat to be labeled with its country of origin, from packer to processer. Unfortunately, the COOP bill, or HB 324, requires only the retailer to post a placard stating the meat’s country of origin. If the retailer is not 100% sure of the country of origin, they have to put up a sign that says the origin of the product is unknown. I believe this will scare consumers away from purchasing beef and pork. I would support a COOL proposal, but I will be voting against the COOP bill.

This week I will be presenting two bills on the House floor. First is the Interstate Meat Compact, HB 336, which proposes to form an agreement with neighboring states to allow state inspected meat processing facilities to sell their products to other states that are in the compact. The purpose of this bill is to reduce government intervention in meat processing, putting more money in the pocket of the local rancher rather than the middleman.

I will also be presenting HB 372, which proposes to eliminate the business equipment tax. What I heard from many constituents before I came to Helena was that the business equipment tax was an enormous burden and disproportionately affected both the farmer and rancher and the oil industry. Governor Gianforte has proposed to increase the threshold at which the tax must be paid, but this simply isn’t enough to reduce this burden-the tax should be eliminated.

While I would hope that each of these bills will have the support of the House and Senate members, more importantly, they will start the conversation about reducing government oversight and tax burdens on the farm and ranch and the oil industries. That would be a step in the right direction to benefit Richland County and Eastern Montana.

I will continue to vote to protect our families and children, our individual liberties, and our livelihood as I promised during my campaign. I look forward to hearing your input and welcome your call at 480-5687 or email at [email protected]


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