Legislative update from Representative Tom Welch

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

We are two weeks into a busy 68th Montana Legislative Session. We have over 4500 Bill drafts in possible play with 444 Bills already moving thru the process. As I have in past Sessions, I serve on the House Taxation Committee again as Vice Chair and also on the House Health and Human Services Committee. To date, I have introduced five Bills with all of them having had House Committee hearings. Four of the five have also now passed the House floor and are headed to the Senate for consideration. My introduced Bills to date include HB 24 Revise Tax Credit Schedule, HB 25 Repeal Gray Water Property Abatement, HB 129 Revise Fees for Special Mobile Equipment, HB 138 Generally Revise Montana Bank Laws and HB 139 Generally Revise Laws Related to Mutual Savings and Loan Associations. All of these Bills passed their respective House Committees and the House Floor on unanimous or nearly unanimous votes.

This week I will be bringing to the House Floor two Bills from Governor Gianforte’s package of Bills. These are HB 221 Revise Income Tax Rates for Net-Long Term Capital Gains and HB 222 which Provides Rebates of Property Taxes Paid on A Principal Resident. I appreciate that Governor Gianforte has asked me to sponsor and carry these critical Bills as we work to wisely manage the State’s excess funds. As expected, there is no end to the ideas as to how best to address our surplus-much of which is one-time funds. Many Legislators, including myself are emphasizing that we need to be deliberate and transparent throughout this process yet get dollars and tax relief in one form or another to Montanans as quickly as possible. You will hear much more about this in the coming weeks.

Among the highlights of my first two weeks at the Legislature was that the three Beaverhead County High School students who applied to work as Pages at the Legislature were selected to do so. The first week Laura Martin and Andrew Egan joined me at the Legislature while Olivette Copple was here this past week. I was pleased and honored to have sponsored these outstanding students. This Program allows a select group of Juniors and Senior from Montana High Schools to spend a week in Helena. While here, they not only assist Legislators and staff with day-to-day operations but also have the opportunity to view the inner workings of a Legislative Session as well as meet with State leaders such as Governor Gianforte and Attorney General Knudsen.

I look forward to updating you periodically as we work thru the remaining weeks of our Legislative Session. I can be reached at - tom.welch@legmt.com.