This week saw a lot of activity and controversy in the House chambers. What is classified as the infrastructure bill failed to pass the House and will not be passed on to the Senate. This is slightly decieving however, since there is almost two hundred million dollars that is in the plans appropriated to go throughout Montana for infrastructure. One bill of interest is HB 224, that allows for tax exemptions for veteran organizations of land and property. This bill passed out of the House and is in the Senate taxation committee. This bill hits home, since it directly affects one of our local organizations, the St Regis American Legion. A yes vote in the committee and on the Senate Floor is needed to pass this bill. This week also had the passage of the gas tax out of the House and on to the Senate. All house bills from this session had to be transmitted to the Senate this week. Senate bills or amendments will be the work of house committees and house chamber from now on.
ONE VERY controversial bill came on March 31. It was a blast motion to get SB 305, changing our present voting system to mail in ballots for this special election, on to the house floor for debate and a vote. It was brought by a blast motion which requires 60 votes to bring it out of committee. It failed to receive the votes. There was much discussion on the floor debate. Counties were in favor of the bill due to a cost savings in mail ballots. The reservation populations were very much against the billl due to the fact that the voters mailing lists are not accurate. I noted that one legislator had used his counties electorate mailing list to send out cards to over 800 constituents two months ago and over 200 were returned due to no recipient at that address. That is over one forth of voters that would not get their ballot. The media had been promoting the idea mail in ballots would be detromental to a republican turnout due to a statement made a few months ago by the GOP chairman but I personally discount that idea. If you read the bill, there would have been only one polling site in Mineral County and one or possibly two polling sites in Sanders County to vote at if you had not gotten your ballot. This has become a political football, with blame against one side stateing fraudulant voting and manipulation of the voting date and the other side accused of hiding the bill in committee. If people are on vacation or not back from winter stays, I was worried they might miss the opportunity to vote. I feel the outcome is best for the voters but I do know the couties will have more expenses. One of our most important and responsible acts of freedom is to vote and I feel our present method protects that right and is most important.
Rep. Loge can be reached at denleylogeHD14@gmail.com or (406) 544-5220.