Legislative Update: Tuesday, April 18

Keith

Keith Regier

Senate nixes House change to tax bill

Freddy Monares

The Senate on Tuesday rejected a House amendment to a bill that would provide a tax exemption for property owners whose land value is at least double the value of the house or other property on the land.

The House passed Senate Bill 94 earlier this month, but amended it to include income caps for a taxpayer to quality for the exemption.

Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, is the sponsor of the bill. He asked the Senate to reject the amendment because of the impact on the state’s general fund.

“The House amendment raised the fiscal note 28 percent over the version that left this chamber,” Regier said.

Sen. Jill Cohenour, D-East Helena, is the only senator who agreed with the amendment. She says without the amendment, the bill doesn’t address people who actually need the break.

“There’s lots of people out there that are low income that can’t afford their property taxes —we’re not helping them. We’re helping people who have really valuable land up on Whitefish Lake,” Cohenour said.

The bill will now go to a conference committee, composed of members from the House and Senate, to resolve the disagreement.

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.

Two abortion bills still alive in Helena

By Cole Grant

There are two abortion bills still in play in the 2017 Montana Legislature.

Senate Bill 329 would make it a felony for providers to perform abortions after five months of pregnancy. It needs one more vote to get to the governor’s desk.

It returned to the Senate Tuesday so senators could review an amendment from the House, which would get rid of the measure if another bill—Senate Bill 282—becomes law.

That bill, among other things, would force doctors to try to save a viable fetus. The bill defines viability as having a more than 50 percent chance of living outside the womb. It’s passed through both houses.

Sen. Diane Sands, D-Missoula, says she’ll vote for the amendment, but against the bill.

“It’s still an unconstitutional invasion into the rights of privacy, and intrusion into the ethical responsibility of a physician to care for their patients.”

Supporters say it’s the government’s job to take care of who they say are the most vulnerable, like unborn babies.

The amendment needs one more vote for the entire bill to pass through the Legislature.

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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