As the 2019 Montana legislative session winds down, we check back in on some previously highlighted bills to see what became of them.
Sold as a way to let legislators fine-tune the state budget, companion bills rankle lobbyists and some lawmakers as they’re used to enact last-minute deals.
After a turbulent ride through the Montana Legislature, a bill extending Montana’s Medicaid expansion program cleared its final legislative hurdle Thursday.
Legislation aims to crack down on “illicit massage parlors” in effort to expand trafficking investigations
Montana’s prostitution statutes don’t criminalize the buying or selling of non-penetrative sex. That means the state’s “illicit massage parlors,” as they’re referred to by law enforcement, weren’t breaking the law if workers provided sexual activity that didn’t involve penetration. A bill aims to change that by broadening the law to include “sexual contact that is direct and not through clothing” to the already prohibited exchange of sexual intercourse.
SB 331’s true intent is to secure access to the 500-kilovolt “backbone” emanating from Colstrip, some supporters say. Transmission lines are valuable to companies like NorthWestern, due in part to how utilities make money.
Stalled on a 25-25 vote last week, a bill renewing Montana’s expanded Medicaid program sputters forward as the Senate as a redo lands 26-24.
As legislators square off over the state budget, Medicaid expansion and coal power, some of this week’s other hearings focus on resolutions to create interim studies to examine everything from pornography as a public health hazard to the health hazard wildfire smoke poses to communities.
A bill purportedly meant to save the coal-fired power plant by making it easier for NorthWestern Energy to take on a bigger ownership share in Colstrip generation continues to evolve. But some lawmakers and lobbyists say they’re no longer certain what the proposed legislation actually does.
A 2.5 cent-per-gallon fuel tax increase could help rural Montana airfields with maintenance. Opponents worry a higher rate would discourage commercial flights into the state.