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taxes

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.

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.

Budget Stabilization Plan Outlines State's Response To Future Revenue Shortfalls
Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

At the end of a legislative session defined by the state having less money than initially projected, lawmakers Wednesday negotiated a new budgeting system designed to protect the state against future revenue shortfalls. 

With state revenues down from slumping markets for oil, gas, coal and agricultural products, lawmakers spent most this session arguing over spending priorities in the state budget.

Katherine Hitt (CC-BY-ND-2.0)

A tax on medical marijuana is now on it’s way to the governor's desk after passing out of the House Tuesday morning.

A signature from Governor Steve Bullock is now all that stands in the way of a tax on medical marijuana providers becoming law.

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.

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.”

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.

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."

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.

Tobacco Tax Increase Dies In The House

Apr 11, 2017
Montana Capitol dome, Helena.
William Marcus

An attempt to revive a substantial increase in the tobacco tax failed in the Montana House of Representatives.

Representative Kerry White said this tax increase, which included a $1.50-tax-per-pack increase for cigarettes just further creates a black market for cigarettes.

A Republican lawmaker says if the Legislature doesn’t take action, property taxes are going to go up for homeowners, farmers and ranchers because of property reappraisal. 

Montana Tobacco Tax Increase Bill Likely Dead

Apr 6, 2017
Rep. Kerry White (R) HD64
Montana Legislature

Republican lawmakers are taking steps to kill a proposed increase in Montana's tobacco tax.

The tax increase would raise tens of millions of dollars a year that would go, in part, to increase the wages of caregivers for elderly and disabled Medicaid patients.

Montana Senate To Debate Gas Tax Increase

Apr 5, 2017
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)

It’s the Senate’s turn to hear testimony on a bill to increase the gas tax in the state to generate a revenue stream for infrastructure projects.

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.

William Marcus

Governor Steve Bullock's office warned lawmakers Tuesday that they’re risking a special legislative session and budget cuts if they rely too much on new, more optimistic state revenue projections to fund the state budget.

Bill Would Require Online Travel Companies To Pay Full Bed Tax

Mar 28, 2017
Sen. Dick Barrett, D-Missoula, says during testimony Monday that his bill would clarify the intent of past legislation to include online travel companies in the state’s bed tax.
Freddy Monares

A bill in the Montana Senate would reverse a 2015 Montana Supreme Court decision that allowed online travel companies, like Expedia and hotels.com, to avoid a part of the state’s bed tax.

Budget Stabilization Plan Outlines State's Response To Future Revenue Shortfalls
Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

Montana Democrats are saying Republican U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte’s former company ran into tax trouble with Indiana. Republicans say that may be true, but has absolutely nothing to do with Gianforte.

Accusations of financial chicanery are flying in Montana’s U.S. House race.

A tax increase on cigarettes and chew took a step forward today in the Montana Senate. The proposed tax expansion would for the first time include e-cigarettes.
(PD)

A proposal to increase tobacco taxes, which would also impose Montana's first ever tax on vapor and e-cigarettes got its first debate in the Senate Monday morning. The bill introduced by Helena Democrat Mary Caferro calls for a $1.50 tax increase on a pack of cigarettes, and at least that much on standard cans of chew. It also proposes 24 percent tax increase on the wholesale price of all tobacco products, including cigarettes and snuff.

Medical marijuana sign.
Flickr user Laurie Avocado (CC-BY-2)

A committee of Senate lawmakers approved a 2 percent tax on medical marijuana providers and rejected an increase to the state’s alcohol tax.

Since voters approved a statewide medical marijuana program in November, lawmakers in Helena have debated ways to fund it.

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.

Health coverage in Montana.
Montana Commissioner of Securities & Insurance

In Montana, more than 47,000 people qualify for tax credits that lower their monthly health insurance premiums. Those tax credits were created by the Affordable Care Act, what some people call Obamacare. Many of those people would see big changes if the Republican healthcare bill in the works in Congress now becomes law.

Greg Gianforte (L) and Rob Quist (R) are running for Congress in a special election to fill Ryan Zinke's seat.
MTPR News

Today news broke that the two major party candidates in Montana's special election for Congress have had tax liens filed against them in the past.

The Associated Press says that, "a group seeking to influence the May 25 special election" gave them information about liens against Democrat Rob Quist. The Democratic Party responded by providing information about Republican Greg Gianforte.

Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

Montana could see as much as $106 million in additional revenue come into the state than was previously unexpected. But lawmakers are approaching this news with some caution as they create the state’s budget.

The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Division is projecting the additional revenue to flow into state coffers over the next three years, as the state recovers from a dip in earnings after a decline created, in part, by lower sales of coal, oil, and gas. 

AP Reports Tax Liens Against Quist, Gianforte

Mar 21, 2017

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The state of Montana filed three liens to collect about $15,000 in back taxes from Democratic congressional candidate Rob Quist and his wife, Bonni.

The liens were issued in 2015 and cover the 2007, 2011 and 2012 tax years. He settled the debt with the Department of Revenue last May.

Sally Mauk, Chuck Johnson and Rob Saldin review the legislature's busy week as the state budget heads out of the House and on to the Senate. They also discuss how the debate over healthcare and the Trump administration's proposed federal budget is affecting Montana's upcoming special election in May.

Delicious Montana craft beers
Eric Whitney

The state’s budget passed a final vote in the Montana House this morning and is now moving to the Senate. Democrats there are continuing efforts to increase taxes that they say would bring in more money to help currently underfunded state programs.

The latest tax increase proposal introduced in the Senate today could raise the cost of beer, wine and hard alcohol.

When Governor Steve Bullock released his budget late last year, he called for a 50 percent bump in the state’s wine tax to help make up for revenue shortfalls.

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

All day Thursday in the House Chambers at the state capitol, Democrats rose to their feet asking for more funding in the state budget shaped by the Republican majority. All of those proposals were rejected before the budget passed second reading along party lines.

Montana Lawmakers Consider 6 Percent Tax On Medical Marijuana
Courtesy Drug Policy Alliance

Montana lawmakers are considering a 6 percent sales tax on medical marijuana. Opponents told the House Taxation Committee that the tax would be a hardship on many of the nearly 12,000 registered medical marijuana users in Montana.

Richard Spencer, head of the National Policy Institute and editor of Radix Journal, an alt-right publication is a part-time Whitefish resident.
Courtesy National Policy Institute

The federal government has revoked the tax-exempt status of a group run by white nationalist Richard Spencer. Spencer says the IRS incorrectly listed his white-supremacy think tank, the National Policy Institute, as not having to file certain tax forms normally required of nonprofits.

Bill Proposes Increase In Resort Taxes To Help Fund Affordable Housing
(PD)

Resort taxes in Montana could go up a bit under a new bill at the state legislature. Senate Bill 343 had its first hearing today. The bill’s sponsor argued resort towns need it to help fund more affordable housing for locals.

Dillon Republican Jeffrey Welborn’s bill would give resort communities the option of increasing the tax on luxury items and non-essential goods.

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