Legislative Update: Friday, April 7

Bullock

Steve Bullock

Bullock tries amending balloting bill

By Cole Grant

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock used his veto power Friday to amend a bill that landed on his desk to include a mail-in ballot option for Montana’s upcoming special congressional election.

The amendatory veto comes after another bill died last month that would have allowed counties to opt in for mail ballots.

Among other things, Bullock said, the amendatory veto to House Bill 83 could save taxpayers money.

“Given that Montana just held a congressional election four months ago, and will hold another next year, it makes complete sense to conduct this election principally using mail ballots,” Bullock said, “but with appropriate in-person voting opportunities.”

A spokesperson for the House majority leadership, Lindsey Singer, called the move bad policy, and characterized it as Bullock using his power to shoehorn a completely different piece of legislation into a bill that’s already moved through the process.

The amendatory veto must pass 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.

 

Senate will hear Medicaid bill

By Freddy Monares

It’s the Montana Senate’s turn to hear testimony on a bill that would include marriage and family therapist services under the state’s Medicaid program. The bill passed the House in March on a 91-to-9 vote.

House Bill 637 would draw $25,000 from the state’s general fund for the Department of Public Health and Human Services to extend the coverage.

Rep. Jon Knokey, R-Bozeman, is the sponsor of the bill.

“What I want to do is start the conversation of, ‘how do we invest in mental health issues and curbing drug issues,’ so that we can take care of the citizen?” Knokey said.

A marriage and family therapist from Hamilton, Cyndi McNeil, supported the bill at a committee hearing earlier in the session recorded by the Legislature.

“When I moved to Montana I could not get reimbursed for Medicaid, therefore I am unable to see children who have been abused, neglected, removed from their homes,” McNeil said.

The Senate will begin taking 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.

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