2017 MT Legislature

Jackie Yamanaka

Senate Republicans are moving quickly on an infrastructure bill. The Senate Finance and Claims committee on a 15-3 vote Friday afternoon approved a nearly $99 million dollar bonding bill. The action sends Senate Bill 367 to the floor for debate.

The Bullock Administration supported the Senate bill but spoke against the House Republican’s infrastructure package this morning.

Jackie Yamanaka

The pace is picking up at the Montana Legislature. A Senate committee has begun its work on the state’s main budget bill, less than a week after receiving it from the House.

Welcome to Capitol Connections. I’m Jackie Yamanaka. This week, we’ll check in with Senate President Scott Sales, but first an update on funding for early childhood and special education.


Jackie Yamanaka

House Democrats say they won’t support a new House Republican infrastructure proposal that would issue bonds to pay for rural water, wastewater, some road and school projects.

When it comes to infrastructure at the Montana Legislature even a simple matter over whether there were negotiations on the topic is up for dispute.


Jackie Yamanaka

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to vote this week on a bill that would give a one-percent pay raise for state employees.


Josh Burnham / MTPR

The House Appropriations committee unanimously approved a bill to pay for some capital improvement projects for numerous state facilities.  The committee’s action came after several lawmakers criticized building projects at the University of Montana.

House Bill 5 includes a myriad of projects, including for several life/safety repairs and maintenance at state facilities. The committee approved an amendment to give the Montana University System the authority to spend money raised privately by some of the campuses.


(Flickr Photo) (https://flic.kr/p/aJaQVF)

Today lawmakers gave initial approval to a bill that would give the Montana Attorney General’s office $80,000 to intervene in a Washington state rate case that involves coal-fired power plants in Colstrip.

Rep. Jim Keane, D-Butte, sponsored House Bill 22 to ensure the attorney general’s office has enough money to represent the state’s interest in the pending closure of Units 1 and 2.

The state’s budget passed a final vote in the Montana House this morning and is now moving to the Senate. Democrats there are continuing efforts to increase taxes that they say would bring in more money to help currently underfunded state programs.

The latest tax increase proposal introduced in the Senate today could raise the cost of beer, wine and hard alcohol.

When Governor Steve Bullock released his budget late last year, he called for a 50 percent bump in the state’s wine tax to help make up for revenue shortfalls.

Jackie Yamanaka

The Montana House, on a 56-44 vote, gave preliminary approval to a bill that would ban the application of foreign laws in state courts. Proponents and opponents have dubbed Senate Bill 97 the Sharia law measure. Opponents said it targets Muslims.


Jackie Yamanaka

Legislators are considering legislation to help the citizens of Colstrip and the state of Montana weather the pending closure of 2 coal fired power plants by requiring the plants owners compensate the community for the economic loss.  


Montana Office of Tourism

Lawmakers are considering whether to give local governments the authority to ask their voters to approve a local option sales tax. The money raised would be used to provide property tax relief and pay for public works projects. 

Senate Bill 331 is based on the existing resort tax model that’s assessed on goods and services purchased by tourists.  Current state law restricts the resort tax only for communities with a population under 5,500 and draw a high number of tourists. Local residents vote to impose this tax. The money collected pays for public works projects and property tax relief.


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