A mid-session progress report
| March 28, 2023 12:00 AM
Last year during campaign season, many opened their door and took time to share their priorities for our community with me – most touched on infrastructure, housing, education and safety. It’s gratifying to share that input was integral in shaping much of the legislation I’m carrying in the 68th session. Given the collaborative nature and impact of these bills, a mid-session progress report seems appropriate.
HB 91 State Library Aid (Status: Senate Education, Active)
HB 91 is a bill to continue and expand funding to all qualifying local libraries in 82 counties throughout the state.
HB 225 Establishing a Montana Adoption Tax Credit (Senate Taxation Hearing, TBA)
HB 225 establishes a refundable tax credit for families who choose to grow their family through adoption. It proposes a tax credit of $5,000 for private adoption and $7,500 to families adopting from Montana’s foster care system.
HB 256 Allows Auxiliary Officers the Ability to Carry Weapons (Senate Judiciary, Active)
As part of the Flathead County Sheriff’s Posse, auxiliary officers provide approximately 10,000 volunteer hours annually at public events, crime scenes, and election polls. HB 256 provides clarity around authorization of auxiliary officers to carry a weapon while on duty.
HB 257 CTE Advanced Opportunities (Senate Education Hearing, March 24)
HB 257 authorizes funds to pay for out-of-pocket costs families incur as a part of internships, apprenticeship or other learning opportunities outside the school’s brick and mortar walls. This bill also provides funding to schools to administer these opportunities.
House Bill 267, The SAFER Act (Signed into Law)
HB 267 was signed into law on Monday, March 13. The SAFER Act is a $100 million transportation fund to be used for state matches for one-time-only federal grant monies and reauthorization dollars. The estimated benefit to Montana is $750 to $850 million for road, bridge, and safety projects throughout Montana.
HB 790 Electronic monitoring and Victim Notification Laws (Transmitted to Senate)
HB 790 offers victims of domestic violence the ability to opt-in to electronic monitoring alerts if it is ordered by the court. The direct notification of the victim enhances the effectiveness of this life-saving service. It also clarifies violation notifications for the county attorney and affords an option for monitoring for repeat misdemeanor domestic violence offenders.
HB 791 Crackdown on Fentanyl Trafficking (House Appropriations, Active)
HB 791 passed out of House Appropriations on March 21. It proposes a mandatory minimum sentence of two years, a $50,000 fine or both for anyone convicted of trafficking fentanyl in Montana. With a dramatic increase in overdose deaths related to fentanyl and an almost 11,000% increase in seizures over the last year, serious action must be taken.
HB 849 Floating Liquor License Lease (House Business and Labor Hearing, March 27)
HB 849 creates a “floating liquor license lease” option for a county growing faster than adjacent urban centers. It would provide four full liquor license leases for Kalispell and one each for Whitefish and Columbia Falls. License leases would come from the county quota, if available, and would not include gambling.
These bills are borne from the people, for the people – most were formed through conversations at the doors and kitchen tables. Many community members and leaders deserve much of the credit for progress made to date. There are many more to thank than words available here; hopefully, for today, it suffices to say that the teamwork and community spirit have been humbling and inspiring. Together, we have a bright future.
Rep. Courtenay Sprunger, R-Kalispell