Legislative Update: Friday, March 10

MR

Marilyn Ryan

Budget amendment would raise pay for care providers

By Cole Grant

The Montana House Appropriations Committee is nearly done ironing out amendments to House Bill 2, the main budget bill.

Rep. Marilyn Ryan, D-Missoula proposed an amendment to the Department of Health and Human Services budget Friday that would increase wages for those who work directly with seniors and people with developmental disabilities.

“This is costly, I will not deny it,” she said. “But I believe we have a responsibility to every citizen in Montana to find the money to improve the wages of our direct-care workers.”

Rep. Rob Cook, R-Conrad, said he appreciated the light the amendment shines on provider rates and direct-care wages.

“But to just pull $61 million out of that ending fund balance and then pretend that we have some way to heal that before we get out of here with a budget that’s balanced and acceptable is in a lot of ways erroneous,” he said.

The motion failed on an 11-11 vote, with two Republicans voting with the Democrats in favor of the amendment.

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.

 

‘Getting up to speed’ with the internet

By Freddy Monares

Employees at retirement facilities in Montana could hypothetically record videos and photos of patients and post them to social media sites under current state law.

House Bill 244 would make it a felony to record seniors, or people with developmental disabilities, in uncompromising situations in any setting.

Tom Jacobson, D-Great Falls, is the sponsor of the bill. He says the idea came from an article on an elder abuse case in Iowa.

“It’s another step of getting our code up to speed with the internet and social media and all the things, and I think we’ll protect a lot of our seniors,” Jacobson said.

During debate on the House floor, recorded and archived by the Legislature, Rep. Alan Doane, R-Bloomfield, took issue with the bill’s wording.

“If one of my friends wants to make fun of me on Facebook, I don’t think it should be a criminal offense,” Doane said. “It should be between him and I, and I can poke fun back at him.”

The Senate Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee will hear the 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.

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