Legislative Session Update

Representative Jonathan McNivenHello Folks, It’s been a couple busy weeks since I updated you regarding progress for the good of the citizens of Montana.  The Legislature is nearing the halfway point of the 90-day session. Some really big bills are being debated and passed now, especially in the last week before Transmittal (which is when a bill is either passed to the other chamber or generally dies).

The biggest news for the citizens of Yellowstone County and Lockwood is House Bill 437 which passed 2nd reading today 2/26/13 with a vote of 67-32.  By the time you read this, I hope to have passed HB437 out of the House Chambers and on to the Senate.  This bill allows Counties throughout the state to create Special Improvement Districts in areas that need it and I accepted to carry this bill on behalf of the Yellowstone County Commissioners.

Unlike what happened in Billings regarding the parks district, HB437 allows the creation of a special district within the county where the final vote is to the citizens. I want to personally thank the Yellowstone County Commissioners for their support and desire to help improve conditions in the Lockwood area.  As there are still opportunities to improve in my district, there are at the same time many positive things happening in Lockwood like new businesses, products, and services as well as the new Northend Bypass so I encourage all to be actively engaged in your community and help make it a better place within your own capacity.

Other news is that the tax cuts have started! Two tax reform bills had hearings this week. One of them reduces the business equipment tax. You may have heard of this tax, especially if you’re a businessperson. When any Montana business buys equipment to help them with their business – like a combine for a farm, or a backhoe or a motor grader for a contractor – the state taxes them. The problem with that is it inhibits job creation. When a business buys new equipment, they have to hire people to run it. That means jobs for Montanans. But the business equipment tax penalizes businesses for buying new equipment. So lowering this tax will create more jobs for Montanans.

The other major tax bill is an across-the-board, permanent property tax relief bill. This bill will provide $100 million dollars of tax relief for Montanans over the next few years. I would like to give more property tax relief and hope there will be some more in SB175 when it gets to the House from the Senate.  This is the big education funding bill that is coming.  As I’m always concerned about how much of the taxpayers’ money we are spending, each bill is different.

Property taxes have been a subject where there’s a little bit of disagreement this session. The Governor wants to provide a one-time rebate, but the majority in the Legislature prefers a long-term tax cut. The House will hopefully pass that long-term cut, so we’ll see what the governor does.

We also passed some major bills defending our Second Amendment freedoms this week. Foremost among them was a measure that ensured the State of Montana would not help with any gun ban from Washington D.C. As you may have read, Congress is talking about banning certain kinds of semi-automatic rifles. But that’s not something Montanans support. Your State House of Representatives voted that, if Washington D.C. does that, our state government will not support it.

Finally, I want to thank you, the voters for allowing me to represent you in Helena and I ask that you continue to contact me for any reason and let me know if there is anything I can do for you at 406-672-5941 or jonathanmcniven@gmail.com.

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