State Representative Matt Rosendale checked in after the completion of week 14 of the state legislative session. Looking toward the end of the session, which should be soon, Rosendale said to watch for an announcement of community post-session meeting dates.
Rosendale said the focus last week was bills reducing taxes and regulations.
Microbreweries were one industries which received relief. Rosendale explained that with the abundance of micro-breweries cropping up around the state, several have started manufacturing specialty drinks like hard lemonade or hard iced tea. If they purchase products which contain alcohol to mix with their own product, they pay the state tax on that product upon purchase and then again after it is mixed and transferred to the state for distribution. SB 389 eliminates the “double taxation” of these products there by promoting additional manufacturing and processing here in Montana.
SB 372 will reduce the “Business Equipment Tax”. This is a tax that is placed on all equipment used in businesses, small and large, across the state. The newer and more valuable the equipment, the larger the tax. Rosendale commented “It doesn’t matter if the equipment is idle for large parts of the year, or is in operation every day. This is completely counter productive and needs to be eliminated. SB 372 sets us on the path of elimination. It has passed 2nd reading in the House.”
SB 242 passed the House last week and eliminates the workers compensation insurance requirements for an Ag Producer who helps a friend or neighbor. This has been done for years, however by law, there has been an obligation for workers compensation insurance to be paid if any money is exchanged, even if it is just a re-reimbursement for fuel. No Longer.
HB 291 extends the time that a utility company is obligated to pay back a portion of the fee which was charged to extend service. At the present time, if you pay to have electric extended to a site, and other consumers tie in or start using that extension within three years, you receive a partial rebate from the utility company. HB 291 extends the time for rebate out to ten years. This creates incentive for individuals or corporations who would like to develop property or resources, to extend those services and opens up opportunities for other businesses.
Rosendale spoke about repeated efforts to force the legislature to meet yearly. He said “ After considering much debate I fear that any deviation from the present statute, which requires 90 days every other year, would turn into an unnecessary expansion of government with no added benefit. So for a second time I have voted to reject this expansion.”
There was one committee Rosendale was excited about. He said “Finally a committee I can totally support! HB 642 – Create Select Committee on Efficiency in Government. This bill outlines the process for selecting members, which will include business people, and charges them with evaluating the different departments and agencies. They may make recommendations from restructuring to combining or elimination in order to hold government more accountable and make it more effective. It passed the House with bi-partisan support.”
One bill that passed second reading this week and has been sent to appropriations could have a broad range of positive impacts for Montana. SB 371 will encourage the manufacture of ammunition in Montana. The bill provides a package of tax incentives for ammunition manufacturers who locate here. This would provide an expansion of jobs and payroll not only from the manufacturer but from the area businesses where those wages are spent. Additionally, it would assure Montanan’s with a steady supply of ammunition as federal regulations have made it difficult for national firms to keep pace with the demand. As more people are filling their freezers with wild game, the demand for ammunition and reloading supplies has increased, and that need is reflected as shortages at the local sporting goods stores.
Finally, Rosendale said the legislature excluded the county road easements from taxation on an individual’s property taxes. Any ranch that has a county road going through it, has a substantial amount of acreage associated with that easement. As they are primarily gravel, they don’t provide any grazing. SB 110 passed nearly unanimously and excludes those areas from property tax.
Through the remainder of the session, Rosendale would still like to hear from residents who are impacted by bills still under consideration. He encourages you to contact him either at 406-444-4800 or by email at [email protected]