Capitol Connections: Final Days of Negotiations

Apr 20, 2017

Credit Jackie Yamanaka

The 65th Session of the Montana Legislature is winding down, but there are pieces yet to be put into place before lawmakers can adjourn.

Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, talks about the negotiations taking place with the Governor to bring this session to a close.

Credit Legislative Services

Nearing the end of a session, Thomas said he is committed to getting legislation passed that will benefit Montanans, will develop better paying jobs through tax policy and make the state a little more competitive. He says that lists are being reviewed to come up with an agreement both parties can come to terms with before this legislative session ends.

He talked about tax bills that would encourage big businesses like Facebook and Amazon that have huge facilities and would be built here, creating jobs for Montanans, but he says that the tax rate needs to be competitive here for that to happen.

Thomas says that this legislative session is coming to a close. “We will be done by the 90th day, perhaps within a week depending on how these negotiations go. We’re ahead of schedule.”

Representative Mike Cuffe, R-Eureka, talks about legislative efforts to address Aquatic Invasive Species.

Invasive species have been on Montana’s radar for some time now. State of Montana has been preparing for this eventuality. This is a slow-moving catastrophe that could turn into a huge disaster in the next couple of years. As an area becomes contaminated, they reproduce, and each mussel can produce 500,000 to 1 million eggs a year. The larva settle to the bottom and grow into shells, then they cluster, and in less than a year, for example, a 3-inch pipe could close up, surrounded by these mussels. The pH in the threatened Montana lakes will cause them to thrive. They also eat low-level plankton, eliminating a major part of the food chain in these lakes, and had the potential to starve out other fish.

Cuffe said that there were 17 boat check stations last year, this year we will have at least 34 FWP stations plus a number of others, perhaps close to 50 stations, and the funding for these stations has to come from somewhere.

(MUSIC: “Pack It Up” by The Pretenders. Pretenders II, 2004 Warner Brothers Records, released June 1, 1981)

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