Legislative Update: Thursday, Feb. 9

MR

Matt Regier

Treatment for 1st-time drug offenders?

By Freddy Monares

First-time drug offenders in Montana are currently not given the option to enter residential treatment facilities in the state.

House Bill 278 would give judges the option to defer these first-time offenders to a live-in treatment facility, or rehab center, rather than putting them on probation.

Rep. Matt Regier, R-Kalispell, is the sponsor of the bill.

“If we wait multiple times down the road that they’re failing, before, ‘Ok, now we’re going to give you meaningful treatment,’ they’re just that much further down that road,” Regier said.

Matt Kunz, executive director of the Montana chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, supported the bill at its first hearing in January.

“It gives the judge a realistic chance that this person is not going to be back in my courtroom in three months,” Kuntz said.

The House passed the bill—sending it to the Senate for consideration—on a vote of 99 to 1. The Senate Judiciary Committee is to hear 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.

 

Family, medical leave bill gets a hearing

By Cole Grant

Montana Lawmakers heard a bill Thursday that would create a fund to help with those in need of family or medical leave from their job.

Jemma Hazen testified in favor of House Bill 392 in the House Business and Labor Committee. She said she could have benefited from paid time off when her son was born.

“Like many other new parents, I was forced to make the difficult choice between my personal health, the health of my son, and the satisfaction and the stability of my career,” she said.

The fund would be made up of a contribution split equally between the employer and employee, or the employer could opt into paying the entire amount.

Rep. Jeremy Trebas, R-Great Falls, said he thinks the intentions of the bill are good. But with deductions like Social Security and Medicare already taken out of workers’ pay, he said, “It’s just one more thing that we’re forcing employees to have taken out of their paychecks.”

No one testified in opposition to HB 392 at the hearing.

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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