Montana House Leaders Recap the 67th Legislative Session [Op Ed]
Wylie Galt (R-Martinsdale) is the Speaker of the Montana House of Representatives
Casey Knudsen (R-Malta) is the Speaker Pro Tempore
Sue Vinton (R-Lockwood) is the Majority Leader
The 67th Session of the Montana Legislature is one that Montanans can be proud of. Voters sent us to Helena with a mandate to change the way state government does business. At the beginning of the session, we made policy promises that we are proud to report we have delivered on.
Our primary constitutional duty is to pass a balanced state budget. We created a conservative budget by keeping state spending below inflation and population growth while still responsibly funding government operations. We positioned our economy to come back stronger than ever by reducing taxes and regulations. The tax reform package that we passed puts nearly $120 million back into the hands of Montanans. The Republican approach has been comprehensive with income, property, and business taxes all being simplified and reduced.
The Legislature upheld individual rights and freedoms including expanding 2nd Amendment rights, protecting life, establishing digital privacy protections, and ensuring other civil liberties that Montanans cherish are upheld. We safeguarded our outdoor heritage with reforms to FWP, public lands, and wildlife management. This included funding for infrastructure and conservation packages in every Montana county as well as expanding the membership of the FWP Commission and better balancing predator control and wild game policies.
During a global pandemic, we delivered reliable healthcare reforms that increase access and decrease costs to healthcare; including authorizing Direct Primary Care, telehealth, healthcare savings pools, allowing doctors to dispense prescriptions, and eliminating certificate of need laws, among other free-market reforms. We made progress in bringing flexibility to our education system, not only through COVID but into the future. We expanded career & technical education employer tax credits, gave schools more flexibility over measuring education progress to reflect individualized learning, expanded tax credits for public and non-public programs, and expanded broadband.
Finally, we tackled unprecedented issues. We allocated nearly $1 billion in federal COVID funds to critical infrastructure investments like water, sewage, and broadband. We also implemented a safe and responsible recreational marijuana program as demanded by the voters. No bill is perfect and we will be making revisions in future legislative sessions.
Because of our focused and unified approach to lawmaking this session, Montana is positioned more competitively as a great place to work, live, and raise a family. In the coming weeks, we plan to write additional articles describing specific policies in the above categories that have been signed into law. While the session may be over, we look forward to working for our constituents throughout the interim.