Local Property Tax Levy Coming Up For Hearing

Date: March 19, 2017

March 31 deadline looming for fiscal bills to move from one house to the other.

NFIB/Montana State Director Riley Johnson reports on the small-business agenda for the legislative week ending March 17.

A bill of major importance to NFIB/Montana will be heard March 21. House Bill 579 calls for a referendum that would allow counties to levy up to 40 mills for infrastructure projects, such as roads and bridges and waste- and drinking-water facilities.

It would also include everything from senior citizen education, parks, day care centers, transportation of seniors, law enforcement services and detention facilities. HB 579 calls for a vote of the statewide electorate at the June 2018 Primary Election. It would be a simple “yes” or “no” vote to adopt the legislature referendum. The bill will be heard in the House Tax Committee at 8 am in room 152 of the Capitol.

HB 579 is the only statewide infrastructure bill still alive in this 65th legislative session. More infrastructure bills are expected to surface in the coming weeks. Senate Bill 88 by Sen. Jon Esso (D) of Butte was introduced as an infrastructure bill early in the session but missed the March 1 deadline for general legislation. It called for creating an infrastructure trust fund within the Coal Tax Trust Fund.

New State Income Tax Rate

Two new bills introduced this past week will be heard in Senate Tax Committee next week. They are Senate Bill 350 and Senate Bill 351.

SB 350 would create a new individual income tax bracket for high earners: People declaring more than $500,000 in income. The new bracket would raise the current top rate of 6.9 percent to 7.9 percent. A hearing on SB 350 will be held March 23, at 8 am in Room 405 of the Capitol.

Two other measures dealing with income tax, House Bill 330 and House Bill 452, were tabled in the House Tax Committee last month. Technically they are not dead, as a two-thirds vote by either the House or Senate can still bring them off the table until the fiscal bill deadline of March 31.

Statewide Sales Tax

Along with SB 350, the Senate Tax Committee will, at the same meeting, take up Senate Bill 351, which calls for a constitutional amendment prohibiting a general statewide sales or use tax. Gov. Steve Bullock promised during his 2016 re-election campaign to introduce such a constitutional amendment in the next legislative session. Sen. Dick Barrett (D) of Missoula is the sponsor of SB 351.

Small Business Retirement Program

Introduced in the past week, Senate Bill 346 by Sen. Terry Gauthier (R) of Helena would create an optional small-business retirement program within the Department of Commerce. The program would allow eligible employers and employees to have a payroll deduction of contributions toward the program that would join together small investors into a larger group for more flexibility within the pool of investors. SB 346 will be heard in the Senate Business Committee March 21, in Room 422 in the Capitol.

Business-Related Travel Expenses

Also introduced in the past week was Senate Bill 347 by Sen. Jedediah Hinkle (R) of Bozeman.
It would revise income tax deductions for travel by provide a ‘tax home election’ for taxpayers with indefinite and unpredictable work patterns. SB 347 will be heard in the Senate Tax Committee March 21 in Room 405 of the Capitol.

Many bills are still alive awaiting action. NFIB/Montana is following over 30 bills that could affect small business owners across Montana. These bills range from workers’ compensation issues to tax issues, and from workplace law to workforce training programs.

Workforce Training

A bill of interest to NFIB/Montana this past week was House Bill 418 by Rep. Kelly McCarthy (D) of Billings. This measure would have provided $5 million in new funding for enhancement and expansion of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program.

CTE currently makes available to high school students programs that can make attainment of industry-recognized professional certifications and workforce-based learning programs, such as internships and registered apprenticeship classes. This would allow graduating high school seniors the opportunity to be workforce ready for businesses immediately upon graduation in such fields as welding, construction, computer technology, and beginning regular four- and five-year apprenticeship programs through the Department of Labor.

HB 418 was heard March 20 and tabled the next day in the House Appropriation Committee because of the large fiscal impact it would have had on the legislative budget for the next two years of the 2019 biennium.

Get Involved

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.

More information on:

  • locating legislators
  • getting an e-mail address
  • viewing committee meetings and floor sessions on television or over the internet
  • review all hearings
  • reading of the actual bills …

… can go to www.leg.mt.gov and access everything electronically.

Previous Legislative Reports

March 10 Report—NFIB to Fight 4 Percent Local Options Tax Proposal

March 3 Report—Montana Legislators Getting Down to Dollars and Cents

February 24 Report—Income Tax Proposals Stall; Gas Tax Increase Revving

February 17 Report—Slowest Session in 16 Years Has Not Slowed NFIB

February 10 Report—NFIB Helps Defeat Costly Workers’ Compensation Proposal

February 3 Report—Skirmish Over Funding Montana Legislature

January 27 Report—Montana Legislature Ponders Tax Credits for Startups

January 20 Report—NFIB Helps Defeat Montana Minimum-Wage Bill

January 13 Report—NFIB Readies Opposition to Montana Minimum-Wage Bill

January 6 Report—Montana Legislature Opens Biennial Session

[Tile photo of Rep. Kelly McCarthy courtesy of The Montana Legislature]


Related Content: Small Business News | Montana | Taxes

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