House Bill Updates – Feb 14, 2016

Many of you have been involved in the conversation regarding HB 141. We have read the case law, reviewed the bill draft, as amended, and believe the proposal working its way through the legislature is thoughtful and protective of the industry.

While we appreciate the notion that the “PELS board would never vote to do what the North Carolina dental board did,” neither you nor the Association(s) can guarantee that to every licensed professional in the state.  Professional boards are made up of practicing members of their profession, with an inherent interest in protecting their individual and/or company practices.  There is an inherent conflict – unless, as the bill states, there is a clearly articulated policy that the board is acting within.  In those cases, the Board has full discretion and would not be challenged by state oversight.  It is only in those cases where Board actions are outside of clearly articulated policy, that appear to infringe on the rights of other “non-members” who wish to operate within the market, where the state may need to act as arbiter.
The reality is, the state already acts in this role, but in order to fully protect individual members of the Board from litigation and individual liability, the state statute needs to positively affirm their oversight role.  Without it – as noted in the Supreme Court decision (not an FTC ruling) – each member of the Board is individually liable to an antitrust suit that may be brought.
Our counsel is to let this measure proceed.  You need not actively support it, but opposition is not only fruitless (it has passed in committee and on the floor by wide margins), but politically unwise.  We would be happy to discuss this matter further with Sen. Ed Buttrey to see why he changed from a No to a Yes as he is an engineer and may have similar concerns (although we honestly don’t know if he’s still licensed).
HB 14,  the Governor’s Infrastructure bill passed the Long-Range Planning Subcommittee, but it is unlikely that the bill will remain in its current form. The bill contains $157 million dollars worth of projects, three of which are proving contentious. They include the Romney Hall Renovations, the Montana Historical Society Museum and the new veteran’s home in Butte. Republican lawmakers contents that these are not critical infrastructure projects and they intend to fund critical infrastructure first.
The other highlight of this week has been an attack on TIF funding. There were a number of Bills introduced this week. We opposed HB 359 and HB 134 and asked that the Legislature provide more tools for communities and not eliminate tools that are currently working and allowing for new projects. The Cities were out in force and it sounds like these two bills will not move forward. It seems that this legislation is a result of some individuals in Bozeman, Billings and Missoula who are unhappy with a project, in their respective community, that was funded with TIF dollars.
The hearing for the Fuel Tax bill has been delayed. I will be attending the Infrastructure Coalition Meeting this afternoon and I will let you know if the hearing has been rescheduled.
The following is the list of bills we are tracking:
MSE/ASCE Bill List
Allow local option sales tax
LC0754 Provide uniformity in curriculum related to construction industry
LC0900 Authorize local governments to adopt clean energy programs and issue bonds
LC2035 Generally revise laws related to subdivisions
LC2345 Provide infrastructure funding for oil/gas impacted counites and communities
LC2489 Generally revise laws related to local government
HB 5 Long-range building appropriations
HB 8 Renewable resource bonds and loans
HB 11 Treasure state endowment program
HB 14 Bonding program
HB 66 Revise school funding related to facilities
HB 92 Allow for alternative contracting process for the department of transportation
HB 141 Provide licensing boards with active supervision in antitrust liability cases
HB 134 Revise school funding related to facilities
HB 203 Provide supplemental funding to department of transportation
HB 245 Require timelines for review of a final subdivision plat
HB 300 Exempt townhouses from certain subdivision sanitation regulations
HB 359 Limit tax increment financing revenue to local mills
HB 411 Revise tif laws regarding use of tax increment
HB 403 Revise tif laws to require remittance if increment exceeds certain level
SB 43 Generally revise laws governing the long-range building program
SB 88 Create a build Montana trust fund