2017 Montana Legislature

Jackie Yamanaka

The fact Montana lawmakers were going into this week's special legislative session with no pre-negotiated "deal" in place gave many at the Capitol heartburn. The session wrapped up shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday morning. Governor Steve Bullock called legislators back to the Capitol to help address a projected $227 million dollar budget shortfall and backfill the state's depleted wildfire fighting fund. 

Jackie Yamanaka

The Republican controlled Montana Legislature voted to make permanent nearly $77 million in budget cuts the governor intended to be temporary. Both the House and Senate gave final approval to House Bill 2 and sent the measure on to the governor.

In the meantime, work continues on companion bills. This includes Senate Bill 9 which includes the GOP's intent to use the $30 million offered from CoreCivic, the company that runs the private prison in Shelby, to help offset the projected $227 million dollar budget deficit.

Jackie Yamanaka

Montana lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow the state to accept $30 million from CoreCivic, the company that runs the private prison that houses some of the state's inmates. The company has offered to give the state that money in exchange for another 10 year contract to run the Shelby facility. The bill's sponsor says if Governor Steve Bullock accepts that offer then $15 m of that money would go into the wildfire fund and the rest could be used to soften cuts to state agency budgets.  Senate Bill 9 is part of the Republican majority's plan during the special legislative session to address the projected $227 m budget shortfall.

https://goo.gl/xhZVWE

The special session of the Montana Legislature got underway with lawmakers still at odds with the Bullock Administration on how to deal with the projected $227 million budget shortfall. One sticking point remains over a proposal to accept $30 million in exchange for extending the contract for a private prison in Shelby another 10 years should be part of the mix. 

Jackie Yamanaka

Montana Legislators are considering a temporary increase in lodging and car rental taxes to preserve some government services slated to be cut to address Montana’s projected $227 million budget shortfall. It's part of a 3-prong approach sought by Governor Steve Bullock that also includes budget cuts and fund transfers during the special Legislative Session that officially convenes Tuesday.

Montana Motor Vehicle Divison

The federal government gave Montana a one-year extension to comply with the REAL ID law.  Without it, Montanans could not board a commercial airplane or enter federal buildings after January 22, 2018 using their driver’s license.  The alternative was another federally issued identification, like a passport.

The Department of Homeland Security had said it would only grant Montana an extension was if the state made a commitment toward making substantial and documented progress toward complying with REAL ID.

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.


pexels.com

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.”

Pages