Thursday, July 18, 2024

Letters to the editor June 11

| June 11, 2023 12:00 AM

Bills of interest

There were many bills passed in the legislative session which ended last month. We’ve seen the headlines on many topics but many never captured the spotlight. Some of them are of interest to many of us:

HB 55: Tax of 1/4 cent per KWH on electric vehicle charging stations. This is to compensate a bit for not paying fuel taxes to improve our highway system which we all use.

HB 222: Provide a rebate of $500 for a principal residence that’s occupied by the taxpayer for the 2022 and 2023 tax years.

HB 352: Provide targeted interventions to support third grade reading proficiency. The bill specifies who can get funds for the interventions and has reporting requirements to OPI. Children who aren’t reading on a third-grade level will struggle with content throughout their school years. I have seen this first hand after teaching the grade during my career in the classroom.

HB 497: Require property tax bills to include a cost comparison with prior years. We won’t have to go through past paperwork to find out how much they increased.

HB 543: Revise laws for ballot wording for bonds and levies. This bill will require bonds showing the increase to property taxes and alert those in rentals that it may mean an increase in rental costs.

HB562: Community Choice Schools. Montana will now join 46 other states that allow something different for a students’ education. A commission will govern them and can shut down underperforming schools that are not meeting the needs of the children.

HB 703: New requirements for emotional support dogs. It will allow a landlord to request a licensed health care person to identify the emotional need that the animal supports.

HB 830: You may now pay your primary residence property taxes in seven equal payments. This could relieve some pressure on the big tax bills in November. Make application to the county treasurer by Sept. 30.

HB 867: This allows liquor stores to remain open on Sundays, Mondays and legal holidays with some operating hour restrictions. Why not be like so many other states and sell it in the grocery stores for less cost?

SB 104: Exempt retired military pensions from state income tax. There are some stipulations so read the bill on the state’s website to see if it applies to you or a retired military member you know.

Check out for exact wording and any bills passed during this year’s session that may be of interest.

— Dee Brown, Hungry Horse

Risking the country for political points

The artificial crisis created by the debt ceiling has been averted by agreeing to a bipartisan compromise. This might sound like an unimportant political hassle that always gets resolved with both sides blaming the other. So, why pay attention?

Had we failed to pass this bill to suspend the debt limit it would have caused an immediate loss of income for many in Montana, an increase in mortgage and borrowing rates and a drop in the stock market of 10% to 20% . Payments for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veteran benefits and military personnel would have stopped, not to mention triggering a recession on the scale of 2008-09.

We were dangerously close to default if either house of Congress refused to pass this legislation. Failing to pass would mean the Treasury would have been out of money by June 5, and the debt ceiling would have prevented borrowing more to pay for legitimate expenses already purchased. In other words, the U.S. would have been untrustworthy deadbeats, unwilling to keep our promises. Failure to raise the debt limit is not the way to resolve our budget deficit which requires a long term, thoughtful, bipartisan budget, not cheap political stunts and crisis pressured negotiation.

Fortunately, we have enough intelligent members of Congress who would not allow our country to default. They passed this bill in bipartisan fashion 314-117 in the house, and 63-36 in the senate.

Sen. Jon Tester was the only legislator from Montana to vote for this bill.

Sen. Steve Daines, and Congressmen Matt Rosendale and Ryan Zinke voted against it.

The question remains why any Montanan would vote for a legislator who willingly risks our countries welfare to score political points and remains unwilling to remove the 100-year-old debt ceiling law allowing this political black mail.

— John Santa, Kalispell