The first half of the 66th Session of the Montana Legislature concluded on March 1st with transmittal of the House of Representatives’ general bills to the Senate. We’ve deliberated on a number of challenging and hotly-debated bills on the House floor. The Montana Republican caucus has been united on many fronts, and intends to remain so going into the final weeks.
One of our main priorities remains funding for our local schools. Early in the Session, we made sure that our schools received the biennial funding on which they rely. With the basic school funding passed, we now continue to work on other school issues, including Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.
On behalf of our state’s rural schools, I introduced House Bill 459 to support teacher recruitment and retention in rural settings by utilizing a portion of excess oil and gas revenue already being collected by the state. A number of citizens from across the state testified before the House Education Committee. Among those concerned residents were Tera Laughlin, Elliston, and Will Graveley, Avon, both residents of HD80. HB459 passed out of the Committee and through its second reading on the House Floor. Because of the funds attached to the bill, it was passed on to the House Appropriations’ Committee for further consideration. That Committee will determine whether or not the bill will receive recommendation for funding.
We are working hard to avoid new taxes and tax increases. We’ve already eliminated a number of these proposals. We are dedicated to reducing governmental bureaucracy, not creating more.
We are committed to the rights of private landowners and our agricultural producers. This includes protecting private water rights, preventing homeowners’ associations from imposing onerous restrictions on properties, and allowing for the recovery of attorney fees in quiet title actions.
I had the privilege to introduce a wolf mitigation bill, HB291, to help Montana’s ranchers reduce the impact of wolf predation on livestock producers, and offer sportsmen a way to give back to the landowners who grant them access for hunting. This bill, if signed by the Governor, will allow voluntary donations to be made when purchasing a Montana conservation license or through the websites of the Department of Livestock and/or FWP. These funds will then be used by the Department of Livestock for flight time, collaring and lethal control of wolves under an existing contract with the USDA Wildlife Services. This bill has been transmitted to the Senate.
We defend our Second Amendment Rights. Both the House and the Senate have passed a bill to allow those with concealed carry permits to move to a different city or county without having to notify law enforcement. We also passed a bill so Montanans applying for concealed carry permits won’t be required to provide a social security number. Other House bills that have passed through the House include preventing local governments from regulating private sales or prohibiting carrying a concealed firearm. All of these bills will have to make it past the Governor’s veto pen before becoming law.
On February 14th, I introduced House Bill370 to the House Business and Labor Committee to revise Montana’s notary laws, implementing 21st Century technology by providing for electronic notary services. HB370 will assist many of Montana’s business, legal and property transactions in rural communities, between cities and towns across the state, and beyond. (Existing notaries will be able to continue providing services under the current system.) This bill has been transmitted to the Senate.
As your representative, I look forward to continuing to serve you during the second half of the Session. I remain dedicated to helping our caucus avoid new taxes; reduce the size of the government; demand accountability in government agencies; create new private-sector jobs; and create a new framework for essential infrastructure.
It is an honor and privilege to be at the Captiol serving the voters of House District 80 and our state. Especially after visiting with so many of you during the first half of the Session, I hope you’ll continue providing your input and testimony so the 2019 Legislature reflects your voice! Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 444-4800Thanks again, and I’ll keep you updated.
Rep. Becky Beard, R-Elliston, represents House District 80 in the Montana Legislature.