Havre Daily News - News you can use

Week 9

 

March 19, 2019



Our daughter, Maci, was in Helena with her family to spend this past week with us. Last session, she was the only member of our family who was unable to visit me at the Capitol, so it was special to have her and two of her children here. Judy and I enjoyed playing tour guides by showing them around Helena and the state campus while getting in some visiting. On Tuesday, the CJI junior and senior classes came to Helena to observe session, learn, and tour the Capitol. I spent a couple minutes with them before our session began, but it was longer than I had hoped. Therefore, the trip to the top of the rotunda had to be canceled — disappointing!

As for bills that are moving, health care and school safety continue to be on the front pages of the papers. This week, both the Republican and Democratic versions of the Medicaid expansion bills were presented to the Human Services Committee. I did sign on to co-sponsor Rep. Buttery’s bill, as I wanted to have a bit of say on what happens. There are a number of folks who would like to see the sunset go away, but I cannot agree. If, for example, the Federal Government pulled their 90 percent participation and the state of Montana had to pony up 100 percent, you, the tax payer, would be on the hook. Montana tax payers are shelling out $46.5 million for this fiscal year and the U.S. government is putting in $628 million. It would be devastating if the federal money was pulled and Montana had no sunset on this bill, which would leave the tax payers of Montana covering these costs.

In Tax Committee, we heard a bill to amend a current tax abatement law that, in my opinion, is much needed to make it easier for county commissioners to do tax abatements for new or expanding businesses. This amendment will allow a business to apply for the tax abatement prior to beginning construction, which had been the original intent of the law. The Tax Committee also reviewed a loophole in the language of the Medical Marijuana bill, which the Legislature passed last session. Some took advantage of the loophole in order to circumvent some of the intent of the law. During this current session, we are working on rectifying and strengthening the statute language so this doesn’t continue to happen.

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