Jan 11, 2011 9:20 PM by Marnee Banks (Helena)
Day Eight: Montana Legislature at a Glance
Budget was the word of the day at the Capitol. Republican lawmakers set target budget cuts in joint appropriations subcommittees. While Republicans say they are not applying across the board cuts, Democrats disagree. GOP legislators took action today to set a base spending budget of $3.45 billion dollars. This is about $300 million dollars less than the Governor's budget. Republicans say they will look at adding $130 million back into the budget throughout session.
Representative Keith Regier (R-Kalispell) wants to criminalize the death of an unborn child. House Bill 167 does not apply to abortions, but pro-choice representatives say it sets the stage for future anti-abortion language. (Read full story here)
Speaker Mike Milburn (R-Cascade) is sponsoring a joint resolution which would urge the federal government to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species act. HJ1 has the support of Fish Wildlife and Parks.(Read more here)
Senator Steve Gallus (D-Butte) is trying to eliminate jail time for certain misdemeanor offenses. The Senate Judiciary heard public comment on Senate Bill 50. Gallus says this bill will help reduce the over crowding in jails and give more reasonable punishment to offenders.
Wednesday, lawmakers will tackle the Affordable Care Act. Senator Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge) is asking lawmakers to join the Florida lawsuit which claims federal health reform is unconstitutional. Republicans are holding a press conference to share their ideas about how to address the reform.
Also slated for Wednesday's agenda is Superintendent of Public Schools Denise Juneau's bill which would raise Montana's legal dropout age from 16 to 18 or upon graduation. Juneau says Senate Bill 44 will help increase graduation rates. She has set a goal to increase Montana's graduation rate by 2% by 2013.