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Montana Legislature Report for Timber Harvesters and Haulers

Montana’s 68th Legislative session is underway, and Jason Todhunter, MLA’s hard-working representative, has returned to stand up for timber harvesters and haulers.

Jason recently shared some highlights from the legislature's first week back and outlined some bills to monitor in the coming months that will have an impact on MLA members:

The legislature has seemed to get off to a quick start and appears to be running smoothly.

HB 129 Revise fees for special mobile equipment (Tom Welch)

Support - This bill removes the past practice of paying the business equipment tax before being able to SM plate a piece of equipment (like a truck-mounted log loader). The issue wasn’t paying the tax first - it was the time this took. It would sometimes take a month to get through all the channels to license a new piece of equipment. This bill will allow the Montana Department of Transportation to issue the plate immediately and allow the same timeframe for collecting the tax as other owned equipment.

HB 75 – Revise reporting requirements for fuel tax refunds (Jerry Schillinger)

Monitor - This bill expands what receipts the Department can accept for issuing a fuel tax refund to include electronic records, which should be a good deal for any of you who file for a fuel tax refund on the taxed fuel you use off-road.

HB 26 – Generally revise highway use laws (George Nikolakakos)

This bill has four parts, two of which could affect us. The first will eliminate potential jail time for hauling heavy over a bridge. This change is particularly relevant with all the bridges that have been recently load posted in Montana, and sometimes even the wrong bridge being load posted! The second thing the bill got rid of was potential impoundment for needing to have current Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) fees paid and eliminating having to pay for a whole year if caught without current GVW fees being paid. You will still get a fine but won't get hit twice with fines like in the past.

The other highlight this past week was the Treasure State Resources Association Legislative Showcase, where many different industries had booths where the legislators could go through and meet and visit with the various industries and their issues. It was well attended, and I visited with many legislators and key partners. It was time well spent!

Stay tuned for more updates on comparable legislative proposals in the coming months. In the meantime, for those of you with the time/passion for following the legislative process:

The Montana Logging Association is a strong voice for Montana’s timber harvesting industry professionals, representing the interests and advocating on behalf of more than 500 members in state and federal legislative matters.

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