Legislative Update: Tuesday, Jan. 24

capitol-logoBill would allow guns at the post office

By Cole Grant

The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on four bills about gun control Tuesday morning at the 2017 Montana Legislature.

House Bill 246 would allow firearms on postal service property in Montana, overriding a federal rule that prohibits it. This would include inside the post office, as well as the parking lot.

Rep. Seth Berglee, R-Joliet, spoke in favor of the bill.

“And even people that concealed carry, to say that you can’t just take it off and leave it in your vehicle, that that too would be illegal, I don’t think that’s really in keeping with the traditions of Montana,” he said.

Mark Murphy, representign the Montana Association of Chiefs of Police, spoke against the bill.

“Our officers take an oath to the United States Constitution and to enforce all the laws,” he said. “This will put us in a position of violating the oath that we take when we start.”

The other three bills had to do with revising concealed-carry laws.

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.

 

Grants aimed at suicide prevention

By Freddy Monares

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would award grants through the Office of Public Instruction to develop a district-wide system of support to prevent students from committing suicide.

House Bill 265 would require schools that receive the grant adopt and implement a suicide-prevention plan outlined in the bill.

Democratic Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell is the sponsor of the bill. She says there are currently several programs across the state in schools that are working to prevent suicide.

“It’s piecemeal,” she said. “What I want to do is make this part of a long-term system improvement as we move forward with public education.”

The bill would give schools across the state the opportunity to take advantage of a prevention plan. Dunwell says she’s talked to the Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen.

“Suicide prevention is a priority of hers. She looked right in my eyes and said, ‘we need to do something,’” Dunwell said.

The bill says the money to fund the program would come from a 1 percent increase in the sales tax for car rentals, raising the rate to 5 percent.

“Tourists would be paying for this for Montanans to enjoy the quality of life and address some of the mental health challenges many of us share,” Dunwell said.

The House Education committee will hear the bill Wednesday.

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.

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