MTPR

Fred Thomas

Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas (R) SD44.
Mike Albans

A big part of this year’s legislative session has been Montana’s Republican-controlled Legislature fighting with Democratic Governor Steve Bullock over tax proposals.

Republicans have passed some of their priority bills, which at times have died with Bullock’s veto. And the governor’s proposals often died early in Republican-led committees. On Tuesday, Republican leadership announced a compromise with just two weeks left in the legislative session.

Senate Bill 354 would boost the cost of packs of cigarettes and cans of chew by at least a $1.50.
Flickr User, Lindsay Fox (CC-BY-2.0)

A significant tax increase to cigarettes, chew and other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, got its first hearing in the House today, having already passed out of the Senate. As the tax proposal moves forward, it faces rising pressure from Senate Republican leadership to kill the bill.

Now that both the full House and Senate have had their a chance to work on the state’s main budget bill, attention is returning to what legislative leaders have said is the priority this session—infrastructure.

Senate Kills Cyclist Bill: 'They Think They Own The Highway'

Mar 13, 2017
A legislative proposal to slap a $25 tax on out-of-state bicyclists visiting Montana turns out to be a big joke, but it's going over like a lead ballon.
PD

The Montana Senate blocked a bill today that would have required vehicles going 35 miles per hour to give cyclists three feet when passing and five feet when going faster. House Bill 267 failed on a 24-26 vote. A motion by Majority Leader Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville to kill the bill indefinitely passed on a 29-21 vote.

Bill To Establish Charter Schools Passes Montana House

Feb 27, 2017
Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

A bill that its sponsor says would provide additional educational opportunities by establishing a public charter schools act passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 55-44 on Monday.

Montana Lawmakers Enter Break With 50 Bills Signed

Feb 27, 2017
Montana Capitol dome, Helena.
William Marcus

There’s a break on the horizon for lawmakers in Helena, with about 50 bills signed into law so far, and over 500 still in the process.

Former lawmaker and now lobbyist Bob Gilbert of Sidney says after the transmittal break, which happens halfway through every 90-day session, he expects a good bit of concentration on money.

Bill Would Create Effective Date For Montana's Marijuana Initiative

Jan 31, 2017
Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas, Republican from Stevensville.
Corin Cates-Carney

HELENA -- Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, says his Senate Bill 131, which would correct an error on a medical marijuana initiative, is really about the power of the judicial branch of government.

The bill fixes the effective date of a voter-approved initiative that would repeal a three-patient limit for medical marijuana providers. But, the language in the bill also admonishes a district judge who ruled in December to repeal the limit before the effective date in the initiative.

Senate Republicans Seek To Push Motl Out As Commissioner

Jan 3, 2017
Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl testifies in his lawsuit against Republican Rep. Art Wittich, March 31, 2016.
Kimberly Reed

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Senate Republicans who oppose giving Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl a full six-year term in office want to intervene in a lawsuit that aims to do just that.

Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, told his GOP caucus Tuesday that a resolution will be introduced as early as Wednesday defending the Senate's confirmation process, which set Jan. 1 as the expiration of Motl's term.

Harlowton Asks State Lawmakers To Increase Fuel Tax

Dec 19, 2016
The compromise gas tax passed by the Senate would raise the tax by 4.5 cents per gallon, going up to 6 cents by 2023.
Rusty Clark (CC-BY-NC-2)

The mayor and city council of Harlowton are asking state lawmakers to increase Montana’s fuel tax.

Earlier this month, Montana’s Department of Transportation said they’ll have to delay almost $150 million worth of road projects across the state due to a budget shortfall.

Montana capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

Senate Republicans in Montana released a plan today to tear down Governor Steve Bullock’s proposal for state funded preschool and instead start work on delayed state highway projects.

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