The first-half Legislature report
The first half of the 62nd Legislative session has come to a close and numerous bills stirred a lot of controversy.
Here is a list of bills first introduced by the Republican majority. Many of these bills are still alive, some were amended:
- SJR — Senate Joint Resolution
• HJR — House Joint Resolution
- HB — House Bill
- SB — Senate Bill
SJR 2: Withdraw the United States of America from the United Nations.
HJR 14: Says Montana has the power to decide whether federal government is "abridging" personal liberties and protect its citizens against "federal incursion. "
HJR 20: Says the federal health-reform laws are "null and void" and not enforceable in Montana.
SB 112: Legalize hunting with hand-thrown spear.
HB 112: Allow guns in schools.
SB 114: Give sheriffs authority over the federal government in terror investigations.
HB 154: Eliminate educational requirements for people seeking the job of State Superintendent of Schools.
SB 161: Declares the federal health-reform laws unconstitutional and says Montana will not comply.
HB 174: Legalize hunting with silencers.
HB 198: An act declaring a public utility's power of eminent domain.
HB 205: Omit Barack Obama's name from the 2012, ballot because his father was born outside of America (the sponsor was on CNN).
SB 216: Officially designate the "Code of the West" as the "Code of Montana. "
HB 271: Allow anyone eligible to obtain a concealed weapon permit to carry without actually applying for a permit. It is already legal to carry a concealed weapon in rural areas without a permit.
HB 244: Eliminate all state incentives for developing wind power.
HB 278: Create fully armed militia in every town.
SB 254: Provide state eminent domain authority for federal lands.
SB 279: Allow legislators to carry weapons in the capital.
HB 284: Forbids state employees from doing anything to implement the federal health-reform acts.
HB 321: Declares the federal Endangered Species Act unconstitutional and invalid in Montana.
HB 326: Lift the nuclear ban for purpose of building a nuclear reactor in the Flathead Valley.
HB 354: Eliminate law that requires landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors.
HB 381: Makes it a crime to enforce federal firearms laws on firearms manufactured in the state.
HB 382: Creates an 11-person legislative commission that reviews all federal laws for possibly nullification by the Legislature.
HB 384: Lift the prohibition on carrying concealed weapons in bars, churches and banks.
HB 438: Compulsory marriage counseling for people seeking a divorce.
HB 443: Declares any future federal food safety laws to be void in Montana for any food grown, processed or sold within the state.
HB 448: Creates an interstate "firearm freedom compact" of states that have declared invalid the enforcement of federal firearms law for firearms manufactured in-state.
HB 456: Requires schools to notify parents 48 hours in advance of sex education and receive the parent's written consent before their child attends. The bill prohibits schools from using instruction materials from organizations that provide abortion services.
HB 506: Require the federal government to prove in court that the national parks were lawfully acquired.
HB 516: Passed by the house, would prohibit local governments from enacting ordinances or policies that seek to protect residents from real or perceived discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender as Missoula did through an ordinance. These classifications are not included in the Montana Human Rights Act.
HB 544: Would require women to be evaluated at least one hour before an abortion to see if she is feeling pressured or is at risk of having a negative reaction after the operation. The measure would allow patients to sue doctors for $10,000 for failing to screen them.
HB 549: Declare that global warming is good.
HB 550: Declares that U. S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation of greenhouse gases is void in Montana.
The following is a revenue estimate provided by the governor's budget office: General Revenue and Economic Data Points:
• As of March 1, current year general fund revenue is 9.82 percent higher than last year.
• Personal income tax withholding for February 2011 was the highest February in history.
• Personal income tax withholding for January 2011 was the highest monthly total for any month in history.
• On a year to date basis, at the end of 8 months of FY 2011, wage withholding is 6.58 percent above last year-meaning wages are 6.58 percent higher than last year.
- As of March 1, total personal income tax collections are 10 percent higher higher than last year.
• As of March 1, total corporation license tax collections are 67.6 percent higher than last year.
• As of March 1 general fund cash is $315.2 million. This is 13.09 percent higher than the cash balance on March 1, 2010.
Before this session started, Montana was only one of two states nationwide whose budgets were in the black, meaning, we had money in the bank.
It puzzles me why all of a sudden we have to make all of these unnecessary cuts, especially to the most vulnerable populations in this state.
My only guess to this thinking from the Republican majority party "is to defund everything, take a look at their priorities, fund them, and then backfill the rest of the governors' budget, the departments and programs with leftover funds at a lower amount, making it appear they increased those programs budgets. " The classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul scenario.
That's how things usually operate around here. It is only my personal opinion at this point. But until somebody proves me otherwise, I'll stand by that assumption.
(State Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy is a Democrat from Box Elder.)