Legislative Update: Wednesday, April 5

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Lola Sheldon-Galloway

House hears two abortion bills

By Cole Grant

Montana lawmakers heard two bills Wednesday that would change when and how women can have abortions.

The House of Representatives advanced Senate Bill 282, which would require, among other things, that if a fetus has more than a 50 percent chance of living outside the womb, a doctor would need to give it life-sustaining support. The bill needs one more vote to pass the House.

Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway, R-Great Falls, voted for the bill.

“The pregnancy is terminated, which is the desire of the mom, but the life of the child is saved,” she said.

Earlier Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 329, which would make it a felony to perform most abortions once the fetus can feel pain, which the bill marks at 20 weeks.

Jessica Peterson with NARAL Pro-Choice Montana opposed the bill.

“So no matter how we personally feel about abortion at different points of a pregnancy, a woman’s health should drive important medical decisions, not personal preferences nor political agendas,” she said.

Both bills have passed the 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 takes up gas tax proposal

By Freddy Monares

It’s the Senate’s turn to hear testimony on a bill to increase the gas tax in the state to generate a revenue stream for infrastructure projects.

House Bill 473 passed out of the House on a 54-to-46 vote in March.

The bill would increase both the gas tax and diesel fuel tax by about 8 cents a gallon and allocate part of the revenue to the Montana Highway Patrol and match funds for projects paid for by local government.

Rep. Frank Garner, R-Kalispell is the sponsor of the bill and says with the increase, each year, “every cent produces about $8 million. This would be roughly $60 million that it produces.”

Darryl James, executive director of the Montana Infrastructure Coalition, supported the bill during debate in a committee hearing.

“This isn’t a do we or do we not pay for these road and bridge improvements, it’s just the mechanism that we do it,” James said.

The House re-referred the bill to an appropriations committee before it was transmitted to the Senate.

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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