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Montana Legislature Report for Timber Harvesters and Haulers – Week 5

Montana Legislative Session Update - Week 5

By Jason Todhunter, MLA’s hard-working representative.

Below are some highlights from week five of Montana’s 68th Legislative session, including some bills to monitor in the coming months that will have an impact on MLA members:

SB 121 – Reduce the top marginal income tax rate and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC (Becky Beard)

Update: This bill passed in the Senate and was referred to and heard by the Senate Finance and Claims Committee. Support - This bill, which you may hear referred to in the news as a “tax break for the rich,” will reduce income tax for everyone making more than $20,500 per year. It reduces the top rate from 6.5% to 5.9%. Montana has extra money this year, and this bill will put a little bit more back into the ole paycheck.

SB 124 – Revise corporate income tax apportionment (Greg Hertz)

Update: This bill was heard in the Senate Finance and Claims Committee. Monitor - This bill changes multi-state corporations to a single sales factor.

HB 212 – Increase the business equipment tax exemption (Joshua Kassmier)

Update: This bill was heard on the House floor and passed by a partisan vote, with all Republicans voting yes and all Democrats voting no. Support - This bill will raise the tax exemption from the current $300,000 level to $1 million of your class 8 business equipment tax. It is a great bill that will backfill the counties and help businesses grow without raising taxes on your home. It is a true exemption that will give everyone a break from this regressive tax.

SB 47Revise Commercial Driver's License laws to comply with federal requirements (Theresa Manzella)

Update: This bill failed on the floor on Friday. They tried to reconsider it on Monday, February 7, and the Democrats joined the Republicans opposing the bill to block it. I believe the Democrats know it will make the Republicans look very bad if our CDL program gets non-certified and we lose some highway funding. The politics begin on this one! Support - This bill requires the DMV to check to see if someone applying for a first-time Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is cleared on the Entry Level Driver Training requirements and drug/alcohol clearinghouse. Currently, federal law already requires this check. This bill failed last session, and now that the federal law is in effect, this needs to be fixed! If Montana issues CDLs without checking, they could be issuing CDLs to an ineligible driver, and the business hiring them would be hung out to dry by the feds and lawyers if this isn’t fixed.

Keep an eye out for more updates on comparable legislative proposals in the coming weeks. 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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