In his report for the legislative week ending January 13, NFIB/Montana State Director Riley Johnson writes that hearings on small-business issues are proceeding slowly.
It has been a slow week for hearings on bills of interest to NFIB/Montana. There has been some action on a few measures, like prohibiting local governments from banning cell phone use while driving, and even a bill to make seatbelts mandatory as a first offense.
But things are will begin to pick up this next week.
Workforce Training and Investment
Two bills reported on last week included House Bill 88 and House Bill 125. The first bill would broaden the current workforce training program eligibility from 20 employees or less to 50 employees or less. This bill passed the House 60-38 on third reading and is now headed to the Senate.
House Bill 125 would streamline the current workforce investment act and bring the law up to federal standards. This bill passed the House 85-14. NFIB/Montana supported both bills and will continue to support them in the Senate.
The first major bill for NFIB/Montana this session is House Bill 169 by Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell (D) of Helena. It would raise the minimum wage in Montana from the current $8.15 per hour to $10.10 per hour. After 2018, the bill calls for automatic increments based on the inflation factor each year. It would also illuminate the $4 per hour minimum wage afforded to businesses currently with sales of less than $110,000. NFIB/Montana will oppose HB 169 as it did successfully in the 2015 session.
Another major interest bill to NFIB/Montana has been put in the hopper. This is Senate Bill 88 by Sen. Jon Sesso (D) Butte. It is part of the infrastructure package of Gov. Steve Bullock’s to fund infrastructure projects statewide for wastewater system, drinking water, roads, bridges, and highways. SB 88 would create the “Build Montana Trust Fund” out of the Coal Severance Tax Trust Fund. This will be the first of many infrastructure funding bills to be forwarded by lawmakers in this 65th session of the Montana Legislature. NFIB/Montana will be on hand for the hearings.
Most of the action this week was centered on the budget and revenue projections for the biennium of 2017-2018. Until lawmakers figure out what kind of revenue and expenses are being faced, there is very little action on things that might cost money. Bills NFIB/Montana is expecting to see in the weeks ahead include:
- Local option sales taxes for local governments
- Raising the gasoline tax
- Broadening the resort sales tax limitations
- More infrastructure funding bills
- Income tax modifications
- Altering the business equipment tax
- Paid sick leave
Getting involved in the 2017 Legislature is easy. The best way to have your voice heard quickly is to phone 406-444-4800. Operators are on hand in the Capitol Building to take messages for up to five legislators on each call, and delivery is within a half an hour. For more information on:
- locating legislators
- getting an e-mail address
- viewing committee meetings and floor sessions on television or over the internet
- reviewing all hearings
- reading the actual bills …
Previous Legislative Reports