Legislative Update: Friday, March 24

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Jill Cohenour

Bill seeks to head off Real ID showdown

By Freddy Monares

Montana is facing a deadline at the end of this year to comply with a 2005 federal mandate called the “Real ID Act,” which requires states to meet minimum security standards for identification cards to access federal facilities or get through airport security.

Senate Bill 366 would make it so that Montanans have the option to get a state driver’s license that complies with the standards.

Sen. Jill Cohenour, D-East Helena, the bill sponsor, said, “The fact that Montana has not implemented (it) now, is going to start to affect actual citizens’ ability to get on a plane and fly domestically,”

Cohenour said the state’s issue with Real ID is a worry that private information could get leaked to the federal government.

“I think we’ve gotten to the point where, let’s get our questions answered about what does compliance really mean, and put this in place as an option for folks,” Cohenour said.

The Senate Administration Committee will hear first testimony on the bill Monday.

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.

Update of sexual assault law sought

By Cole Grant

On Friday, the House Judiciary Committee heard a group of bills that would rework aspects of sexual assault law in Montana.

Missoula County Prosecutor Jennifer Clark said the current laws are outdated.

“One of the hardest things we have to do as prosecutors is tell a victim ‘yes, you were raped. But legally, you were not,’” Clark said.

Senate Bill 29 would, among other things, redefine the term “consent.” It would mean a victim would no longer need to prove “force” in rape cases. Attorney General Tim Fox spoke in support of the bill.

“It will be one of the most impactful improvements to addressing sexual assault in our state’s history, and will fundamentally change how we approach this issue,” he said.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously before moving to the House. There were no opponents at the hearing Friday. It’s one of several bills that would modernize state law on the issue.

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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