MTPR

infrastructure

The gas tax increase is expected to bring in an additional $29 million this year, more than half of which will go to cities and counties for local road-related construction.
Rusty Clark (CC-BY-NC-2)

Gas and diesel prices ticked up over the weekend as a new state tax went into effect. The new tax will increase every July 1 for the next six years, to fund maintenance on bridges and roads across the state.

Montana House of Representatives.
MTPR

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature say they do not support convening a special session to reopen discussions on a package of infrastructure projects.

The big state budget bill landed on Governor Steve Bullock’s desk Monday, one of the final acts of the 2017 legislative session, which was gaveled to a close Friday.

MTPR’s Capitol Reporter Corin Cates-Carney joins us for a look at what Montana lawmakers did and didn’t accomplish since convening in January.

Gov. Steve Bullock.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

The 2017 legislative session came to a chaotic end this morning. Democrats and Republicans fought until the final hour over funding long-term public works projects.

When the final gavel struck, Republicans leaders said they’re proud of their party’s unity and keeping government growth in check. Democrats also talked up their wins, but expressed frustration in being unable to accomplish their major goals.

The "Capitol Talk" crew discusses what did and didn't make it through the legislative session, with a focus on infrastructure and the state budget. On the House race, they discuss whether Quist's nudist colony gigs will impact the race, and break down the latest attack ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund. They also look at the recent Emerson poll showing Gianforte with a double digit lead. Listen now on this episode of "Capitol Talk."

Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

Montana senators have started the clock on the final day of the legislative session, forcing a 24-hour limit on the political chess match over funding long-term construction projects in the state like water treatment plants, a state veterans home, and schools.

"We’re going to turn the hourglass over and say you got one more day. Let’s get it done,” said Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso.

Lawmakers Sit Down With Governor To Talk Bonding

Apr 25, 2017

Lawmakers wrapped up Day 85 of their scheduled 90-day Legislative session with no agreement reached on a bonding package.

That morning, 11 legislators sat down with Governor Steve Bullock, Budget Director Dan Villa and other staff in the Governor's Conference Room to talk about possibilities. Specifically, what would it take to reach the 67 votes needed in the House to pass a bonding bill.

Among the bills put on the table were those dealing with abortion and charter schools. House Minority Leader Jenny Eck, D-Helena, said if those bills were part of the deal, the Republican majority would lose Democratic votes, which could doom bonding.


On This episode of "Capitol Talk," Sally, Chuck and Rob discuss the budget, tax and infrastructure questions awaiting resolution during the final week of the Legislative session. They’ll review the latest ads in the U.S. House Race, and question whether the national attention in that race will help or hurt the candidates.

Legislature Passes Bill To Fund Capital Projects, Veterans’ Home

Apr 21, 2017
Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

HELENA -- The House gave final approval Friday to amendments on a bill that would appropriate roughly $157 million for capital projects with state special revenue funds, grants and donations.

The Senate passed House Bill 5 last week, but amended it to allow authority money to fund three more projects, including a veterans’ home in Butte. Authority money is grants and donations the Legislature needs to approve for spending.

The bill will now go to Gov. Steve Bullock.

A bill to increase the fuel tax continues to advance down the road as the Legislative session is moving closer to adjournment.

“And I find myself in the middle of Montana in the 65th Legislative Session in a very odd position where I feel the need to quote Mick Jagger,” said Representative Frank Garner, R-Kalispell. “And that is you don’t always get what you want.”

What does the Kansas congressional election have to do with Montana's House race? Will the upcoming visits by Donald Trump Jr. and (possibly) Bernie Sanders, help the candidates? Mail-only voting looks dead in the Legislature, where passage of a gas tax hike looks likely and infrastructure funding and bonding are still being debated. And in 2018 election news, Jon Tester has a Republican challenger in the Senate race. These stories an more on this episode of "Capitol Talk."

'Cash Bill' Would Fund Veterans’ Home And University Renovations

Apr 13, 2017
(PD)

The Senate gave final approval today to a bill that would fund capital projects, like university system renovations and a veterans’ home in Butte, with money from state special revenue funds, grants and donations. 

The gas tax increase is expected to bring in an additional $29 million this year, more than half of which will go to cities and counties for local road-related construction.
Rusty Clark (CC-BY-NC-2)

House Bill 473 would impose the first increase to Montana’s gas tax increase since the early 1990s, when the tax was raised to the current charge of 27 cents per gallon.

The new tax proposed by the House, in March, calls for an additional 8 cent tax increase per gallon of gas. But that was too high for the Senate. So, this week the Senate passed a compromise: 4.5 cents per gallon, going up to 6 cents by 2023.

Can the governor's amendatory veto bring back the mail ballot option for the special election? We parse Quist's new TV ads and his decision not to participate in a public broadcasting statewide debate. We also discuss what Gianforte gains or loses by keeping a low profile. Then we look at how Tester's Gorsuch vote might affect his re-election chances next year. Finally, we remember the well-respected former Helena legislator Mignon Waterman who died this week.

Butte Democrat Works To Steer Infrastructure Bills Through The Legislature

Apr 6, 2017
Rep. Jim Keane, D - HD73
Montana Legislature

Representative Jim Keane often refers to his infrastructure bills as "vehicles." The Butte Democrat continues to steer those bills through the process. This time to the Senate Finance and Claims Committee.

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.

State revenue estimates have grown, but lawmakers are taking a cautious approach. Will the Legislature pass an infrastructure bill this session? A mail-voting hearing turns heated. And Sally and Chuck remember Bob Ream, on this episode of 'Capitol Talk.'

The gas tax increase is expected to bring in an additional $29 million this year, more than half of which will go to cities and counties for local road-related construction.
Rusty Clark (CC-BY-NC-2)

The Montana House has endorsed what would be the state's first fuel tax hike in 24 years. The bill would raise the state's tax on gas by 8 cents a gallon and on diesel by 7.25 cents a gallon.

New Republican Infrastructure Proposal Hits A Speed Bump

Mar 22, 2017

House Democrats say they won’t support a new House Republican infrastructure proposal that would issue bonds to pay for rural water, wastewater, some road and school projects.

When it comes to infrastructure at the Montana Legislature even a simple matter over whether there were negotiations on the topic is up for dispute.


The House Appropriations committee unanimously approved a bill to pay for some capital improvement projects for numerous state facilities.  The committee’s action came after several lawmakers criticized building projects at the University of Montana.

House Bill 5 includes a myriad of projects, including for several life/safety repairs and maintenance at state facilities. The committee approved an amendment to give the Montana University System the authority to spend money raised privately by some of the campuses.


The "Capitol Talk" crew reviews the first half of the legislative session and previews the budget and infrastructure debates still to come. They also look at the front-runners for each party's nomination to fill the state's vacant U.S. House Seat, and speculate about Tim Fox's political ambitions. Join Sally Mauk, Chuck Johnson, and Rob Saldin for "Capitol Talk."

Crews in Whitefish dig at the site where the city water main burst Monday morning on Baker Avenue.
Nicky Ouellet

Crews in Whitefish have already fixed a water main burst that left many homes and businesses without water Monday morning, but public works managers say road repairs will likely last into summer.

A leaky gasket, paired with a freeze-thaw pattern Sunday night, caused the burst, which Whitefish Public Works Director Craig Workman called "catastrophic."

Crews in Whitefish dig at the site where the city water main burst Monday morning on Baker Avenue.
Nicky Ouellet

Fifty homes are still without water after a catastrophic burst to the City of Whitefish's water main this morning. Parts of Baker Avenue south of downtown remain closed after crews dug up the street to isolate the leak.

Capitol Connections: Montana American Indian Caucus

Feb 15, 2017

There are 9 American Indian legislators in the 65th Montana Legislature, according to self-reporting to the Legislative Services Division. That’s about 6% of the 150 members. These 9 lawmakers have joined forces with at least 7 other legislative colleagues with American Indian constituents to form the Montana American Indian Caucus.


Funding to fix ailing public works projects cleared the first legislative hurdle in the joint appropriations subcommittee on Long Range Planning.

The panel voted to approve House Bills 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 14 with only minor changes.


Governor Steve Bullock urged lawmakers to pass bills to help businesses grow and expand. He says one way to do that is give businesses an incentive to hire apprentices.

It’s an idea that has been embraced by both political parties.


A state senator from Kalispell is proposing a new process to pay for Montana’s public works projects.

Senate Bill 162 asks lawmakers for $40 million to go into a new fund. It authorizes the State Administration and Veterans’ Affairs interim committee to award those dollars for water, sewer, road and bridge projects.

Bill Would Provide Matching Funds For Infrastructure Projects In Montana

Feb 6, 2017

Lawmakers in Helena will be considering a bill that would offer grants to local communities to fund infrastructure projects. Senate Bill 162 would divide the state into four quarters, based on population, to distribute up to $40 million for projects.

Montana Hall, MSU Campus, Bozeman, MT
Flickr User Tim Evanson (CC-BY-2)

As Montana lawmakers debate which infrastructure projects outlined in the bonding bill should get state funding, the presidents of two of Montana’s public universities asked state lawmakers to invest in public education.

The priorities Governor Steve Bullock promoted last night during his 3rd State of the State Address were familiar themes from past speeches and from last fall’s re-campaign.

“Fiscal responsibility. Education. Infrastructure. Job Creation. Caring for others,” Bullock summarized.


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