Legislative Update from Speaker Pro Tempore Casey Knudsen
April 7, 2021
Last week, the House passed our main budget bill (House Bill 2) to fund state government for the next two years. It will now go to the Senate for further consideration. As it stands, it is one of the most responsible state budgets that we have seen in recent history and comes in well below the maximum threshold that conservative think-tanks have set for a conservative Montana budget. It adequately funds state government and gives Governor Gianforte the tools that he needs to continue finding efficiencies in state agencies.
A leadership priority bill passed to strengthen election security. Senate Bill 169 is a voter ID bill that ensures ballots are being legally cast by the person whose name is on the ballot. This is one of several elections bills that will make our state one of the strongest in the nation for election integrity.
We passed a bill from the Chairman of the House Education Committee which will expand education options for Montana families. House Bill 279 increases the maximum tax credit for Montana's K-12 scholarship programs, creating more scholarships for families to be able to access educational services that fit the individual needs of their child. This bill will primarily benefit low and middle-income families seeking additional choices in education whether it's public or private.
A Resolution that I co-sponsored (Senate Joint Resolution 9) unanimously passed the House last week as well. The Resolution reaffirms the friendship between Montana and Taiwan, calls for increased trade, and supports Taiwan's status in international affairs. Taiwan is a key trade partner with Montana and they purchase a large percentage of our agriculture exports. I was able to meet with the Taiwan delegation in Helena to promote even greater trade between our producers for the mutual benefit of our citizens.
This week we'll be voting on House Bill 632 to allocate the latest round of federal COVID relief funds. While I think it was fiscally irresponsible for Congress to take out more debt to fund this, if Montana doesn't accept our portion it will just go to another state that is willing to take it, like California. Republicans are committed to using the funds for critical infrastructure such as water, sewage, and broadband.
Casey Knudsen (R-Malta) is the Speaker Pro Tempore of the Montana House of Representatives