Legislative Update: Wednesday, Jan. 18

Becker

Freddy Monares/UM Legislative News Service

Sean Becker, administrator of the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development, spoke against Senate Bill 75.

Bed-tax diversion draws opposition

By Freddy Monares

A bill that would divert the state’s bed tax money to create a tourism and trade center in Canada is riling filmmakers.

That’s because Senate Bill 75 would also cut the budget for promoting filmmaking in Montana from $1.1 million to about $200,000.

Sean Becker, the administrator of the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development, said, “The Department of Commerce is mandated, and I quote, ‘to use bed tax collections for tourism, promotion, promotion of the state as a location for the production of motion pictures and television commercials.’”

Montana Outfitters and Guides spokesperson Jean Johnson was the only supporter of the bill.

“We think that $200,000 is not a big price to pay for a Canadian presence and all that it can lead to,” Johnson said.

Rep. Bridget Smith, D-Wolf Point, said she has a bill in the hopper that would provide a tax incentive for filming in Montana.

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.

 

Higher standards for foster care sought

By Grant Cole

Rep. Frank Garner, R-Kalispell, says he wants to set high standards for the foster care system in Montana.

“Those high standards are like being able to feel safe, being able to be healthy, being able to have an education,” he said.

Garner is sponsoring House Bill 182 at the 2017 Legislature. It would set a statewide policy that foster children can expect, among other things, to be free from abuse, have access to proper health services and have access to cultural or religious activities of their choice.

The standards for foster parents set by the bill include being treated with respect, being free from discrimination and being notified of changes affecting a child’s placement.

“What we’re doing is saying, here is what we think are the important outcomes for foster children. And I think as the state of Montana, it’s important for us to say here’s the value that we place on them.”

The hearing for HB 182 is Thursday Morning at the House State Administration committee.

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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