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2015 Session in Review

No one got everything they wanted in the 64th legislative session.  Everyone got something they wanted.  That is how democracies work.

The Montana HELP Act will provide access to healthcare for tens of thousands of Montanans.  We are paying into the program through federal taxes and fees.  Now this money will be brought back home to help Montanans.  Montana HELP is unique in the country, connecting healthcare support with workforce development to help our neighbors get healthy and get better jobs.  Montana HELP also requires everyone to have some skin in the game and pay small premiums and co-pays.  For more information see MontanaHELP.info.

The legislature also created a more level playing field in politics by passing the Disclose Act.  Voters will have greater access to who is financially supporting which candidates and organizations in time for elections.

The CSKT Water Compact passed the hurdle of approval at the state level and now moves on the federal level for their consideration.  The water compact finishes the work started by the legislature in the 1970’s to quantify water rights.  This will bring stability instead of litigation to much of Montana.

Too many infrastructure projects will be delayed again as SB416 was killed in the House.  While taking out loans for toys is rarely fiscally responsible, bonding to pay for something over the lifetime of its use is solid business practice.  Too few Representatives could accept the Governor’s insistence on keeping substantial cash on hand for emergencies through the biennium. The House was unable to pass the bill that would utilize some level of long-term bonding to fund infrastructure investments in Montana.

Montana has a high-performing public school system and many options for children who are not yet school age.  The Early Edge project expanding school to include pre-Kindergarten just did not pass the cost/benefit analysis by the legislature.  Some schools already create pre-school options, Head Start and Early Start help kids that meet their criteria, and many private options are currently preparing students to do well in school.

Montanans have a new way to support the schools of their choice, whether public or private, and receive a $150 tax credit when doing so.  Support for Innovative programs to address student’s learning needs can be promoted by all schools in Montana.

Digital Privacy was strengthened in Montana, making your information safer and your control stronger.  Property reappraisals will be done more frequently keeping your valuations up to date and your taxes simpler and easier to understand.   Montana’s Workers Compensation system has new oversight through the Auditor’s office bringing their expertise to protect this state insurance system.

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