Budget hearings highlight busy schedule for 2nd week of Legislature

2013-01-13T09:00:00Z 2013-01-14T15:28:06Z Budget hearings highlight busy schedule for 2nd week of LegislatureGazette State Bureau The Billings Gazette
January 13, 2013 9:00 am  • 

HELENA — Budget hearings crank up during this second week of the Montana Legislature, but the agenda also features bills on health care, renewable energy, voting and reading requirements.

Here’s a look at the highlights:

State budget: Joint House-Senate budget panels begin their hearings in earnest this week at 8 a.m. every day at various locales around the Capitol, examining Gov. Steve Bullock’s proposed two-year budget.

Also, on Tuesday and Thursday, the Senate Taxation Committee will hear Senate Joint Resolution 2, which sets the revenue amount used for the budget. Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, is the sponsor. Room 152, 9 a.m.

Health care: On Monday, the Senate Public Health Committee hears Senate Bill 12, from Sen. Dave Lewis, R-Helena, which would give the Legislature more control over spending by the state employee health plan, such as its opening of an employee health clinic last year in Helena. Room 317, 3 p.m.

Voting: Rep. Ted Washburn, R-Bozeman, presents bills on Monday to tighten requirements for voting and voter registration, including the elimination of voter registration on Election Day.

House Bill 30 gets rid of Election Day registration, ending late registration on the Friday before the election. House State Administration Committee, Monday, Room 455, 8 a.m.

HB108 would require people to show some proof of birth to register to vote and photo ID when they vote. Same committee, time and room on Wednesday.

Reading: On Wednesday, Sen. Lewis will present SB78, which requires elementary students to be proficient in reading before they can advance past the third grade. Senate Education Committee, Room 303, 3 p.m.

Renewable power: On Thursday, the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee will hear SJR6, which calls for a study of the effects of Montana’s eight-year-old mandate for electric utilities to buy a minimum amount of power from renewable sources, such as wind power. Sen. Alan Olson, R-Roundup, is the sponsor. Room 317, 3 p.m.

The same committee on Tuesday will hear SB31 from Sen. Debby Barrett, R-Dillon, to allow utilities to use existing hydroelectric projects to fulfill the mandate, and SB45 from Sen. Jim Keane, D-Butte, to allow using power only from expansion of existing hydro projects for the mandate. Room 317, 3 p.m.

Legislature size: On Tuesday, Sen. Jason Priest, R-Red Lodge, presents two proposed constitutional amendments to reduce the size of the Montana Legislature to 80 House members and 40 senators. SB97 and SB98 will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Room 303, 9 a.m.

Land subdivision: Sen. Ed Buttrey, R-Great Falls, is presenting two bills Wednesday that could streamline local review of land subdivision proposals. SB41 prohibits local governments from considering the impacts of future subdivisions and SB40 revises application deadlines. Senate Local Government Committee, Room 405, 3 p.m.

Unborn child crime: On Tuesday, Rep. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, will present HB104, which makes it a crime to knowingly cause the death of an “unborn child.” House Judiciary Committee, Room 137, 9 a.m.

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