Legislative update: Thursday, Jan. 12

capitol-logoSeat-belt law gets a hearing

By Cole Grant

Senate Bill 9 would create a primary seat belt law in Montana. That means authorities would be able to pull someone over solely for not wearing a seatbelt.

Sen. Dick Barrett, D-Missoula, is carrying the bill. The Senate Judiciary Committee heard the bill Thursday morning.

“With primary enforcement, more Montanans will use seat belts, and fewer Montanans will die, or be seriously injured on our roads,” Barrett said. “That is what the statistics tell us.”

An opponent of the bill, Mark French, thinks Americans should have the freedom to make the choice themselves.

“The purpose of government is not to keep us safe,” French said. “The purpose of government is to secure our God-given inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That’s the purpose.”

Under the bill, adults could be fined $20 for not wearing a seatbelt. If a child is not restrained properly, the driver could be fined up to $100.

Thirty-four states currently have primary seat belt 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.

Proposal would put wild game on shelter menus

By Freddy Monares

Rep. Jeremy Trebas, R-Great Falls, works at a homeless shelter in Great Falls. The nonprofit is able to receive donations of wild game and distribute it to its patrons to prepare in their own kitchens, but local health officials would not allow the licensed commercial kitchen to cook the meat to serve in the shelter.

“But, it seems like there’s some rule somewhere, that nobody can seem to find, that says that it is not allowed to serve wild game,” Trebas said.

Trebas is sponsoring House Bill 166, which would explicitly allow nonprofit kitchens, like the one in Great Falls, to serve donated wild game.

He says the Department of Health and Human Services asked to include that the meat be commercially processed. The House Business and Labor Committee hears the bill Friday.

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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