Legislative Update: Monday, Feb. 6

Adam Hertz

Adam Hertz

Bill would end Montana’s death penalty

By Cole Grant

House Bill 366 would get rid of the death penalty in Montana and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“The death penalty system, like so many government programs, is wasteful, ineffective, and unjust,” said bill sponsor Rep. Adam Hertz, R-Missoula.

Many of the bill’s proponents, including lawmakers, faith leaders and a former death row inmate, argued the death penalty costs too much money, is morally wrong and takes up too much time in the court system.

But Rep. Seth Berglee, R-Joliet, says he generally supports the death penalty.

“I think in the justice system, it’s not just about cost,” he said. “It’s also about justice and application of justice, so I think that’s an overriding factor.”

No one testified in opposition to the bill at the House Judiciary hearing Monday morning. Last session, a similar bill passed committee by one vote but died in the House on a 50-50 vote.

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.

 

New infrastructure bill considered

By Freddy Monares

Lawmakers in Helena will be considering a bill that would offer grants to local communities to fund infrastructure projects.

Senate Bill 162 would divide the state into four quarters, based on population, to distribute up to $40 million for projects. The bill specifically lays out what can be defined as an infrastructure project, which the sponsor, Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, said is a key provision.

He took issue with a museum being included in an infrastructure bill last session.

“Why are we putting money into a museum when we’ve got roads, bridges, school roofs and other things that have a lot of needs?” Regier said.

Under his bill, grant winners would have to come up with matching funds.

“They could use money already invested in a project,” Regier Said. “Say that a county has been working on a road and they already have several hundred thousand invested in that road, they can use that in their matching portion.”

The Senate Finance and Claims Committee will hear the bill Tuesday.

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 Found

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