Legislative Week in Review
April 10 - 14, 2023
Place your bets; budget bills on the move; pay plan signed; major policy bills remain in play
Week 15 of the Legislature began at a breakneck pace on Tuesday after a 3-day Easter break. Hundreds of bills remain mid-process with just 16 legislative days remaining until the final curtain comes down. As is the case every session, however, rumors of early adjournment are swirling. Sometimes the rumors come to pass and sometimes heated deliberations and dealmaking continue until the last possible moment. Often it appears as though the wheels of the bus are coming off entirely, but it somehow manages to pull into the parking lot in time. Legislative Day 90 is May 6. It remains to be seen (and wagers have no doubt been placed) whether the end of April heralds the end of the 68th Legislature or if the fray continues into May.
The OCHE bill tracking team remains diligent in following budget and appropriations bills, as well as consequential policy proposals that are still moving through the process.
HB 2 (General Appropriations Act)
With the MUS budget still unchanged, the Senate Finance and Claims Committee on Thursday voted 19-0 to send HB 2 to the Senate floor for debate, consideration of amendments, and a 2nd Reading vote. The Senate has not yet announced a date, but action is likely next week.
HB 5 (Long-range building appropriations)
The Senate Finance and Claims Committee heard HB 5 on Friday morning and is expected to act on the bill next week. Funding and authority for MUS projects remain unchanged in the bill.
HB 10 (Long-range information technology financings and appropriations)
The Senate Finance and Claims Committee voted 19-0 on Thursday to send HB 10 to the Senate floor. The bill continues to include an appropriation of $6.1 million to the MUS for the University of Montana’s cybersecurity initiative.
HB 13 (State pay plan)
Governor Gianforte signed the state pay plan on Wednesday. Portions of the bill take effect immediately. One-time-only bonuses will appear in employee paychecks on May 3. Implementation of the bill's appropriation for FY 24-25 pay increases will be determined through collective bargaining and Board of Regents decisions.
HB 288 (Tuition waivers for Native American students)
The Senate Education and Cultural Resources Committee will hear HB 288 on April 19.
HB 496 (Provide for health care preceptor individual income tax credit)
The MUS testified in support of HB 496 at its early April hearing in the Senate Taxation Committee. Last week, the committee voted 7-5 to send the bill to the Senate Floor for debate. The Senate has not yet scheduled the bill for 2nd Reading.
HB 517 (Constitutional amendment regarding Board of Regents)
The MUS stood in strong opposition to HB 517 during its hearing on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary committee voted 7-4 along party lines to send the bill to the full Senate for consideration. The Senate has not yet scheduled the bill for 2nd Reading.
HB 531 (Establish annual combined meeting of the Board of Education)
HB 531 has been transmitted to the Governor for his signature.
HB 749 (Revise Montana digital academy laws)
The Senate Education and Cultural Resources Committee is scheduled to hear HB 749 on Friday.
HB 944 (Establish the Montana in-demand skilled trades investment pilot program)
After passing in the House on an 80-19 vote, HB 944 has been transmitted to the Senate and referred to the Senate Education and Cultural Resources Committee, which will hear the bill on April 21.
HB 949 (Generally revise education laws related to data governance)
HB 949 easily cleared the House on a 92-5 vote and the Senate Education and Cultural Resources Committee heard the bill on Wednesday. The committee has not yet acted on the measure.
HB 950 (Establish the Student and Administration Equality Act)
After passing the House on a 65-34 vote, HB 950 has been referred to the Senate Education and Cultural Resources Committee, which will hear the bill on April 21. A Legal Review Note, prepared by the Legislative Services Division’s legal staff, discusses potential constitutional concerns associated with Article X, section 9(2) of the Montana Constitution.
SB 480 (Remove opt-in requirement for student contact information on ACT test)
The House concurred in SB 480 this week on a vote of 58-42. Having passed both chambers, the bill will now be prepared to be sent to the Governor.
Legislative Day: 74
Percent complete: 82.22%