January 9 - 13, 2023

Week 2 wraps up; bill requests slowing; MUS budget hearings on horizon

 The 68th Montana Legislature winds up its second week having completed a full slate of hearings, agency budget presentations, and floor sessions. Lawmakers have until January 17 to request general (non-revenue) bills and until January 24 to request revenue bills. Requested bills total over 4,500, but the pace of new requests has slowed considerably. Bill introductions are also proceeding slowly, but the floodgates are bound to open as the bill drafting and review process continues.

Bill text and further clarity on a bill’s intent become available before introduction once the Legislative Services Division has completed its legal review of the measure. The MUS bill tracking team watches for new text daily and continues to monitor all introduced and unintroduced bills with any potential to impact the system or its students. To date, the team is tracking just under 300 bill requests. While general bills continue to churn through the policy committees, the MUS budget hearings take center stage next week.

Budget Hearing Preparations

OCHE and the MUS have been preparing presentations and fact sheets for the Section E Joint Appropriations Subcommittee hearings scheduled for January 18-24. Each day will feature different components of the MUS budget and include overviews of MUS initiatives and programs, all while underscoring MUS priorities and affirming the value of postsecondary education. Brief descriptions of the agendas follow.

  • January 18

Board of Regents, OCHE, Montana State University, MUS Shared Policy Goals, and Sprint Degree and Seamless System/Single Learning Management system initiatives.

  • January 19

Community colleges.

  • January 20

Campus appropriations, University of Montana, the Montana 10 system initiative, student leadership testimony.

  • January 23

Tribal colleges, MUS research update, the Agricultural Experiment Stations, Extension, Forestry Services, the Bureau of Mines and Geology, and the Fire Services Training School.

  • January 24

MUS Group Insurance, Workers’ Compensation, Educational Outreach and Diversity, and Workforce Development programs.

Week 2 Hearings

The House Business and Labor Committee heard HB 31 which proposes to allow a unit of the MUS or a community college that is part of a community college district to apply for an academic brewer’s license. The committee amended the bill by reinstating language prohibiting the academic brewer licensee from offering gambling activities and, on a unanimous vote, sent the bill to the House floor for debate.

Upcoming Hearings and Events

January 16

HB 185 – Increase appropriations to MSU Fire Services Training School

This bill proposes to appropriate both biennial and one-time-only funding for the training school to increase staff services, repair and maintain fire engines, and provide other training materials.

January 18-24

MUS HB 2 Budget Hearings - Section E Appropriations Subcommittee

January 26

MUS HB 5 Major Repair and Capital Development Project Hearings – Section F Long-Range Building Subcommittee