Originally published in the Yellowstone County News print edition.
LOCKWOOD — The hottest issue in the Montana State Legislature seems to be whether to eliminate daylight-saving time in Montana, if the emails in Rep. Sue Vinton’s inbox are any indication.
The Lockwood Republican said she has more emails about that issue than any other. Everyone has an opinion about the pros and cons of adjusting their clocks twice a year to take better advantage of the daylight hours. But the bill has already been tabled.
Vinton, who represents House District 56, held a town hall meeting last Saturday morning at Yellowstone Coffee and Canvas in Lockwood, to bring her constituents up to date with what has happened during the first half of the state Legislature. Legislators were home for a few day during the mid-session transmittal break.
One of the top priorities, Vinton told some 30 people who were seated in groups around tables enjoying coffee and muffins, was to improve the regulatory and tax environment in Montana for businesses. There has been “a whole gamut of bills trying to help business to be successful,” she said.
One thing they are doing to help businesses is to not increase the minimum wage, said Vinton, and they have succeeded in turning back bills that would have added “unnecessary” regulations to workers’ compensation and the unemployment program. Other bills have focused on streamlining subdivision regulations and sanitation requirements by removing one hearing in the process that drags out the amount of time it takes to get permitted.
“We heard a lot of alcohol bills,” said Vinton. One that is being looked upon with favor would increase the volume that government will allow breweries to brew and sell. Another will reduce the 2,000 hours of classroom time required of cosmetology students before they can go to work.
The hurdle with the passing all of these bills, said Vinton, is “the governor has to sign them.” A successful bill has to get 51 votes from the House, 26 votes in the Senate and one vote from the governor.
“It has to be a non-partisan effort,” she said.
A case in point is the bill allowing for charter schools. It has passed the Senate, but even if it makes it through the House, “it won’t be signed by the governor,” said Vinton.
Vinton is serving on the Business/Labor Committee, the Education Committee and Fish Wildlife and Parks Committee.
There are groups of legislators who are working on ideas in response to the various scenarios of what Congress may do in regard to ObamaCare, but no action can be taken until that is known. Vinton said they expect Congress to act sometime in March.
“We may get out early,” she said, “to save days” in order to reconvene later to address what happens at the national level.
There was considerable discussion among those present about the passage of the bill that will allow communities like Lockwood to consider having their own high school district. The bill has had little opposition and appears likely to pass the House as it has the Senate. The questions and answers that swirled around the topic of a Lockwood High School reflected a high level of interest in the subject far beyond the passage of the legislation.
But even if a bill is passed, if it requires spending … Read full article in print edition of Yellowstone County News.