The first week of the 2015 Legislative Session is behind us. The legislators spent the early part of the week in orientation, and committee activity was fairly light. We are in the process of compiling a comprehensive list of bills that we will track on your behalf this session, but it is still too early to tell what will be moving ahead. There are a number of bill titles currently reserved by legislators, but no bill text has been made available to date. For most bills pertinent to the engineering/architecture professions, a legislator must request a bill title by next Monday, January 19. Revenue and Appropriations bills have later deadlines. All general bills must be heard and passed by the originating chamber, and transmitted to the other chamber by February 26th. Bill drafts that miss the January 19 deadline, and live bills that miss the February 26 deadline will die in the process.
The first bill of interest to the engineering community was HB 63. This bill updates Montana Code regarding licensing requirements and regulations for professional engineers and land surveyors, was heard in the House Business and Labor Committee on January 8. The bill was developed through the collaborative work of the Economic Affairs Interim Committee, and requested by the Department of Labor and Industry. Rep. Kathy Swanson (D – Anaconda) introduced the bill in Committee, and supportive testimony was provided by Ian Marquand (DLI – Board of Professional Engineers, Executive Officer), David Elias (licensed engineer and land surveyor, and Licensing Board Member), Hal Jacobson (former Helena-area legislator), Darryl James (on behalf of ASCE and MSE), local engineer, Byron Staley, and Jay Skoog (ACEC). The Committee was engaged in the Hearing, asking several questions which were very capably handled by Mr. Marquand.
The bill was passed out of Committee on a 16-0 vote on Friday, January 9th, and passed the full House on 2ndReading by a vote of 98-2. The final vote will likely occur yet this week, after which it will be referred to a Senate committee.
The Lets Build Montana rally is this Thursday at 2:30pm. All are encouraged to attend!