Legislative Update: Monday, Feb. 27

Windy

Jonathan Windy Boy

Charter school act passes state House

By Freddy Monares

A bill that its sponsor says would provide additional educational opportunities by establishing a public charter schools act passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 55 to 44 on Monday.

Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, is the sponsor of House Bill 376.

During the bill’s first hearing, recorded and archived on the Montana Legislature’s website, Windy Boy said 75 percent of high school students graduate. He says his bill aims to address the other 25 percent.

“The public school system, which I’m a product of, tells me that the system doesn’t work for everybody,” Windy Boy said.

Peter Donovan, executive director of the Montana Board of Public Education, opposed the bill during the first hearing.

“These public charter schools would not have to meet the minimum standards that all other public schools in the state public system are required to meet,” Donovan said.

The bill will now be moved to the Senate.

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.

 

Legislature takes a breather

By Cole Grant

There’s a break on the horizon for lawmakers in Helena, with about 50 bills signed into law so far, and over 500 still in the process.

Former lawmaker and now lobbyist Bob Gilbert of Sidney said that after the transmittal break, which happens halfway through every 90-day session, he expects a good bit of concentration on money.

“Taxation bills, appropriations bills, anything that raises revenue,” he said. “Or costs revenue.”

At this point, all general bills that don’t deal with revenue must have passed either the House or Senate, or they automatically fail. Revenue bills have until March 30.

Last Friday, the Senate adjourned for transmittal break. Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas of Stevensville addressed the Senate at the end of a nearly nine-hour session.

“We will not be on vacation, many of us go back to work, and trudge back into our lives that we were at and continue on,” he said.

About 300 bills have been either been tabled or have died so far in both the House and Senate.

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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