2017 Montana Legislature

Two members of the Montana Board of Regents were at MSU-Billings Wednesday, May 10, 2017, to hear from faculty, staff and students on how to keep higher education affordable and accessible.

The regents are scheduled to meet later this month to set tuition and fees for the coming two years.

Jackie Yamanaka

Lawmakers wrapped up Day 85 of their scheduled 90-day Legislative session with no agreement reached on a bonding package.

That morning, 11 legislators sat down with Governor Steve Bullock, Budget Director Dan Villa and other staff in the Governor's Conference Room to talk about possibilities. Specifically, what would it take to reach the 67 votes needed in the House to pass a bonding bill.

Among the bills put on the table were those dealing with abortion and charter schools. House Minority Leader Jenny Eck, D-Helena, said if those bills were part of the deal, the Republican majority would lose Democratic votes, which could doom bonding.


Jackie Yamanaka

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives rejected an attempt to revive a bonding measure that would pay for public school building projects, university buildings on 3 campuses, and help the Southwest Montana Veterans Home break ground.

Representative Mike Cuffe, R-Eureka, offered a technical motion to suspend the rules to reconsider his House Bill 645. It failed April 6, 2017 to get the votes necessary to be transmitted to the Senate.


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A bill to increase the fuel tax continues to advance down the road as the Legislative session is moving closer to adjournment.

“And I find myself in the middle of Montana in the 65th Legislative Session in a very odd position where I feel the need to quote Mick Jagger,” said Representative Frank Garner, R-Kalispell. “And that is you don’t always get what you want.”

MSU Billings

Two Montana campuses will be allowed to have the public sample the wares from their brewing science and brewery operations programs, so long as the tasting rooms are off campus.

Flathead Valley Community College and Montana State University Billings are the two campuses with this program. But the Senate amended the bill to only recognize FVCC. Representative Don Jones, R-Billings, wanted MSU Billings to be recognized, as well.

Jackie Yamanaka

Jackie Yamanaka

Motorists will pay a little bit more at the pump under a bill that appears headed for the finish line. The additional money raised is earmarked to fix the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.

House Bill 473 sought to raise the tax on a gallon of gasoline by 8 cents a gallon, but an amendment lowered that to 4 ½ cents. 


A Republican lawmaker says if the Legislature doesn’t take action, property taxes are going to go up for homeowners, farmers and ranchers because of property reappraisal. 

Jackie Yamanaka

Representative Jim Keane often refers to his infrastructure bills as “vehicles” that he's steering  through the legislative process.  This morning’s stop was at the Senate Finance and Claims Committee.

Keane uses the “truck” metaphor often. He says all of these infrastructure bill are loaded with money to help pay for projects all across Montana to help communities fix their crumbling water and sewer systems and bridges, as well as fund other long range needs.

Jackie Yamanaka

The House Education Committee approved an interim study bill to review the current structure of the Montana University system.

In 1994, the Montana Board of Regents took the separate campuses and consolidated them under either the University of Montana or Montana State University.

Representative Kathy Kelker, D-Billings, said House Joint Resolution 27 would look at how that reorganization has fared over the past 2 dozen years.

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