April 25, 2017 Legislative Update

Hi, Everyone, MSE sent us another Legislative Update.  Please let them know if you have any questions regarding this update.  It mostly is regarding the bonding bill which did not pass.

One more week… I think! And unfortunately, we are finding ourselves in the same position with the Bonding Bill as past sessions. I have included Darryl’s comments that he sent out to the Infrastructure Coalition as it provides a good summary of what is happening. The legislature has locked itself up and the 67 votes needed to pass bonding on the House side are not there. The arguments for and against bonding are the same ones we have heard session after session. There is agreement that the deferred maintenance projects should be included, but the large buildings are where the conservative votes are lacking.

Infrastructure Coalition comments:

It is no surprise that we’re coming down to the final days of the session without clear consensus on a bonding bill, but the lack of urgency in finding a compromise is what might be most striking this session.   

The House has all but eliminated the possibility of moving their own version of a bonding bill forward, so the only vehicle will be Sen. Moore’s bill from the Senate.  It currently sits in House Appropriations and will have to be blasted from committee to be heard on the House floor.  The Senate bonding bill is larger than the House version, so without some compromise or clear articulation of what other bills can be packaged together, it is increasingly unlikely that the House will pass a bonding bill this session.

It’s not too late to contact your legislators and let them know that all the talk about infrastructure was impressive, but that Montanans now expect to see action.  The projects in SB 367, HB 8, and HB 134 (all of which are being held back) contain funding for critical water, sewer, bridge and school projects across the state.  Don’t forget to remind legislators that the museum in Helena has been removed from SB 367 (to be funded in HB 660, which also has yet to pass), and that compromises can be reached for both the VA and Romney Hall.  These individual projects should not be allowed to be the dead weight that sinks these bills, and your legislators need to hear that message as much as they need to hear of the economic benefit your communities will receive from the infrastructure investments contained in these bills. 

Lastly, our Legislature needs to understand that no one is excited about passing a bonding debt onto our children and grandchildren, but without meaningful investment in infrastructure, we’re simply passing along debt in the form of an unfunded liability.  This problem doesn’t go away, and no one wins politically or financially by kicking the can down the road.