Legislative Update: Friday, Jan. 27

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Kathy Kelker

Expansion of school funding sought

By Freddy Monares

Montana Lawmakers will be considering a bill that would allow schools to receive state funding for a wider age range of students.

House Bill 274 would include 5-year-olds and students with disabilities up to age 21 in the Average Number Belonging, or ANB, calculations. Current statute only funds students ages 6 through 19.

“The adult programs that are available for people with significant disabilities have long waiting lists,” said bill sponsor Rep. Kathy Kelker, D-Billings. “No school. No adult services. Losing skills.”

Eric Feaver, president of the teachers union, MEA-MFT, spoke in favor of the bill.

“I think schools have an obligation to see that we do the best we can, at least up to age 22,” Feaver said.

The House Education Committee will hear the bill Monday.

Freddy Monares is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

 

Billings senator says his bill would protect property owners

By Cole Grant

Senate Bill 98 would mandate that if the government damages or takes away all or a part of someone’s property, it would have to reimburse the property owner.

Sen. Cary Smith, R-Billings, is carrying the bill, and says the goal is to protect citizens.

“I am not concerned about protecting government agencies that potentially will do something wrong and it may cost them,” he said.

Many opponents took issue with what they said was vague language in the bill. Kelly Lynch with the Montana League of Cities and Towns said that if the bill passes, “We would have a whole new set of regulations and standards that nobody understands yet, change all of case law as we know it. Everything will have to go through the courts for us to understand what we can and can’t do without paying for it.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard the bill Friday.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

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