Legislative update: Wednesday, Jan. 11

capitol-logoBill would ban sales of culturally significant Indian artifacts

By Cole Grant

Representative George Kipp III of Heart Butte wants Montana to ban the sale of culturally significant Native American objects. House Bill 114, which Kipp is carrying, would do just that.

“It does not say you can’t make them, hang them on your wall if you’re an artist,” Kipp said. “But when you got to try to sell them, it’ll discourage you from doing that.”

Kipp wants the same respect given to endangered species to be given to these objects. He uses the example of getting caught trying to sell a ceremonial pipe that has eagle feathers on it.

“And they’ll say, ‘Oh, you got four eagle feathers on this pipe. You have broken a law. You are trying to sell this pipe.’ So you have violated the law of the feather, but how about the object itself?”

The bill sets fines at however much the object is worth or a prison sentence of six months, or both.

There was no opposition to HB 114 at the House Business and Labor hearing Wednesday morning.

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.

 

Fund eyed for highway projects

By Freddy Monares

Lawmakers in Helena are considering a bill that would pull money from a highway special revenue fund to pay for highway construction projects.

Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Hertz is sponsoring House Bill 203 and says it’s an emergency.

“We just can’t be holding these projects, and these jobs, hostage while we want to debate this situation about the gas tax increase,” Hertz said.

Gov. Steve Bullock’s budget calls for paying for highway projects through increasing the gas tax. Rep. Kelly McCarthy, D-Billings, says the highway department is required to keep a certain amount of working capital in the account.

“If we funded all these projects, it would probably spend about 200 days a year in a negative balance, and then you have to borrow money and pay interest and things to that nature,” McCarthy said.

A House budget committee will hear the bill 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.