Posted: Apr 18, 2013 12:24 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
HELENA - Time is quickly running out in this legislative session, and bills are moving quickly through the process.
Wednesday was a busy day on the Montana Senate floor, starting with two bills which attempt to address the state's $4 billion pension shortfall.
Both bills keep the current defined benefit plan - which guarantees retirees a certain benefit regardless of market fluctuations.
"The goal was affordable. It fixes it and puts the risk on the employees. This bill does that," said Sen. Tom Facey (D-Missoula).
"The employee, the employer are getting these monies from the Montana taxpayers. And the Montana taxpayers already know that this is shell game," countered Sen. Dee Brown (R-Hungry Horse).
Despite vocal opposition, both bills passed. Lawmakers also gave a green light to a measure which allocates $10 million a year to a grant program for oil and gas impacted areas.
Any local government could apply for grants to help pay for roads, bridges, water systems, schools and
public health projects.
"We have to provide the infrastructure so that communities can grow and that the industry can take advantage of it," stated Sen. Matthew Rosendale (R-Glendive).
It also looks like voters will once again be deciding the fate of Montana's abortion laws. A referendum requiring minors to get their parent's permission before getting an abortion cleared the Montana Senate on a party line vote.
Finally on Thursday, a referendum addressing sex education died on the Senate floor in a tie vote.
The bill would have asked voters to decide if parents should opt their children in for sex education class or opt them out.