Legislative Update: Wednesday, Feb. 22

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Tom Facey

Airline deregulation revisions sought

By Freddy Monares

In an effort to control prices on air ambulance rides in Montana, lawmakers are considering urging Congress to revise the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.

Senate Joint Resolution 13 results from an interim committee’s study that found prices for air ambulance services in the state were leaving some patients bankrupt.

Sen. Tom Facey, D-Missoula, is the sponsor of the resolution. During testimony on a different piece of legislation, recorded and archived on the state Legislature’s website, Facey explained why the 1978 federal law is a problem.

“Because no matter what you do with rates or shares, you can go to court and say, ‘Hey, Airline Deregulation Act says you can’t do this,’” Facey said.

Senate Bill 44, which passed second reading in the Senate earlier this month, is the legislature’s effort to place some regulations on the air ambulance in the state.

The Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee will hear testimony on the Joint Resolution Thursday.

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.

 

Proposal would add an hour to distillery’s day

By Cole Grant

Distillers and a brewer testified at the Montana Capitol Wednesday to support a bill that would make their businesses operate under the same tasting room laws.

Montana breweries can serve beer until 8 p.m., and it may be consumed on premise until 9 p.m. Distilleries can serve liquor until 8, but it has to be consumed by then too. House Bill 474 would allow distilleries to stay open that extra hour for consumption purposes.

Mary Harris with Bozeman Spirits Distillery said they usually gain momentum as the day goes on.

“But if we’re kicking them out, pulling a drink right at 8 and they feel rushed out of the door, we’re losing that sale of a bottle even at the end of the day,” she said.

Troy Moore with White Dog Brewing Company is a neighbor of Harris. He says he’s seen a few customers, especially tourists, who’ve been confused as to why one room is open and the other isn’t.

“It’d be nice just to unify the two, get them on the same page, and then all of that goes away,” he said.

There were no opponents to the bill at the House Business and Labor 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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