Montana Legislature

Recent Posts

Renewable energy program, already shaky, may be killed


A state program that requires utilities to buy from small-scale, locally owned renewable energy projects in Montana is facing a do-or-die moment in Helena. Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, is pushing Senate Bill 78, which would eliminate the Community Renewable Energy Projects program. The bill passed a final vote last week in the Senate 30-19 and now moves into the House of Representatives. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , ,

Legislative Update: Monday, Feb. 20


Land access complaints dealt with in bill
By Freddy Monares
Hard-to-access public lands have become a hot topic at the Montana Legislature. Senate Bill 262 would allow complaints of closed roads to go through county commissioners to determine whether or not certain roads are being closed unlawfully. The bill aims to address the issue of checkerboard lands, which wedge public lands between private lands making them hard to get to. Sen. Edie McClafferty, D-Butte, is the sponsor of the bill. “You know, it’s just about public access and we need to make sure that our sportsmen, actually all the citizens of Montana, have the access to our public lands,” McClafferty said. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

In busy week in Helena, LGBTQ protections debated


The Montana Legislature heard emotional testimony last week on a bill that would include gender identity and sexual orientation in the state’s non-discrimination laws. Introduced by Rep. Kelly McCarthy, D-Billings, House Bill 417 would add LGBTQ-identifying individuals to a list of classes protected by the Montana Human Rights Act, meaning it would prevent them from being discriminated against when seeking housing and employment, and when using public accommodations. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , ,

Bill to cut political practices commissioner moves to Senate


The Montana House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would shutter the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices, which some critics say could put the integrity of Montana elections in jeopardy. The bill, introduced by a state lawmaker tied to one of the office’s most significant investigations, would place oversight and enforcement of campaign laws back into the hands of the secretary of state and attorney general, as it was before the office was created in 1975. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

Legislative Update: Friday, Feb. 17


Bills would dismantle office of political practices commissioner
By Freddy Monares
Montana Republicans are furthering their efforts to dismantle the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices with a bill that would prohibit past, present and future commissioners from doing any work for the office. House Bill 340, which passed the House this week, would eliminate the office completely. Rep. Greg Hertz, R-Polson, is the sponsor of House Bill 406, which would also prevent serving commissioners from calling past commissioners for clarification on issues. “I’m just trying to keep the integrity of this office and take politics out of it. That’s the purpose of my bill,” Hertz said. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Legislative Update, Thursday, Feb. 16


Insurance bills under consideration
By Freddy Monares
Supporters of Senate Bill 58 say they’re afraid to report damages covered under their insurance policies because they might be disqualified from renewing. The bill would make it so that zero-dollar claims, which do not pay any money out to the insured, would not be allowed to count against someone for their insurance. Sponsor of the bill, Sen. Mary McNally, D-Billings, says some insurance companies consider a phone call a zero-dollar claim. “At some point you might have a real claim and if the game is to get you off the books before that happens, I’m not sure if I have a lot of sympathy for that,” McNally said. State Farm Insurance lobbyist Gregory Van Horssen, though, said, “We should be able to get out of contracts if we choose to get out of contracts; it is contract law.”

The bill passed out of the Senate on a 43-7 vote. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Legislative Update, Wednesday, Feb. 15


Should Montana ignore federal gun bans? By Freddy Monares
Lawmakers in Helena are considering a bill that would supersede federal law for any future ban on firearms and magazines. Senate Bill 99 would create the “Montana Federal Firearm and Magazine Ban Enforcement Prohibition Act.” The bill would force local law enforcement agencies in Montana to ignore federal bans on firearms. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

State lawmakers urged to oppose anti-Muslim bill


The nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization has sent a letter to 22 Montana legislators and the House Judiciary Committee, calling on the governing body to oppose an anti-Muslim bill poised for consideration. In the first month of Montana’s 2017 Legislature, Rep. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, introduced a bill banning Sharia law to uphold the “fundamental rights guaranteed by our constitution.” (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , ,

Legislative Update: Tuesday, Feb. 14


Bill would allow teachers to arm themselves
By Freddy Monares
Lawmakers in Helena are considering a bill that would allow full-time school employees with concealed carry permits to carry handguns on school grounds. House Bill 385 would create the Montana Safe Schools Act, which the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Seth Berglee, R-Joliet, says would create a line of first defense for schools. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,