Infrastructure

Kay Erickson

The head of the National Governors Associations says there’s bi-partisan consensus that infrastructure has been neglected. Scott Pattison says infrastructure includes everything from broadband to road and bridges.  

“We've neglected it long enough that we were looking at hundreds of billions of needs. You can't just magically come up with the money for that,” said Pattison.

Jackie Yamanaka

Supporters of a bonding bill are working to turn 4 “no” votes to “yes” in order to advance Senate Bill 367 out of the House of Representatives.  Bonding is the last major issue remaining before the 2017 Montana Legislature.

Representatives gave Senate Bill 367 a preliminary 63-to-37 vote last evening. However, the bill will need at least 67 votes on its 3rd and final reading to advance it back to the Senate because of changes to the bill. Passage is expected to expedite the conclusion of the 2017 Legislative session. 


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.”

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. 


Wolf Point Public Schools

The sponsor of a bonding bill to pay for building projects across Montana says doing nothing is not an option.  The House Appropriations Committee is considering Senate Bill 367.   

Today’s hearing came after the House Appropriations Committee again yesterday rejected House Bill 645, the chamber’s own bonding proposal.

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.

(USDA NRCS)

Now that both the full House and Senate have had their a chance to work on the state’s main budget bill, attention is returning to what legislative leaders have said is the priority this session—infrastructure.

Montana State University

Lawmakers gave preliminary approval to two bills that issue bonds to pay for numerous public works and building projects. Changes to House Bill 645 now make the proposal closer to the Senate’s bonding bill.


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