AFP-MT Secures Numerous Wins During 67th Legislative Session
May 3, 2021 by AFP
Includes Proposals to Rein In Emergency Powers, Protect Students’ First Amendment Rights
Helena, Mont. — At the conclusion of the 67th Legislative session, Americans for Prosperity-Montana (AFP-MT) today released its highlights to reflect the more than a dozen wins the organization secured on behalf of all Montanans.
AFP-MT State Director David Herbst issued the following statement:
“Americans for Prosperity-Montana is dedicated to pursuing policies that will enable every Montanan to achieve their full potential. We are proud to have secured numerous wins during this legislative session including new laws that will protect students’ First Amendment rights, return decision-making to voters, and prevent civil liberties from being trampled under the guise of future public health emergencies. Looking ahead, AFP-MT will continue to focus on promoting initiatives that advance individual liberty and help local communities by breaking the barriers that prevent bottom-up solutions.”
AFP-MT advocated for the following legislation that has been signed into law:
Revise campus free speech laws (H.B. 218): Bans “free-speech zones” at public universities, which conversely restrict speech to small portions of campus. Closes the graduation loophole and requires universities to inform students of their speech rights. Passed in 2019 with bipartisan support and championed by the ACLU of Montana, this legislation was vetoed by Governor Bullock.
Protect freedom of association and speech at public postsecondary campuses (H.B. 349): Protects religious, issue-oriented, or ideological student organizations from being denied access to resources and benefits based on their expressive activity and ensures accusations of harassment are appropriately handled without threatening students’ freedom of speech.
Provide for the direct patient care safe harbor Act (S.B. 101): Allows all health care providers to deliver health care directly to their patients through a monthly subscription payment model. As a part of our free-market health care reform package, AFP-MT has been supporting legislation like this and expanding support for solutions of this kind since 2015.
Emergency Powers Reform: Local: Protects from abuse of First Amendment rights, creates democratic accountability for local health board actions, creates technocratic check and balance with sheriff and health boards, and restrains out of control penalties.
Constitutional amendment regarding electronic communications (S.B. 203):Adds “electronic data and communications” to the state’s Fourth Amendment, protecting Montanans from being searched or seized by the government without a warrant based on probable cause.
Revise laws related to third party data privacy (H.B. 479):Provides warrant requirements for third-party electronic data.
Allow for referendum to terminate a county zoning district (S.B. 294): Permits voters to override new, local zoning designations.
Revise school laws related to participation in extracurricular activities (S.B. 72):Allows flexibility for home school and alternative education families to participate in local public school sports. AFP-MT supported this bill in 2019 as well, but it was vetoed by Governor Bullock.
Provide for the Montana Local Food Choice Act (S.B. 199): Breaks down some of the barriers to small business development Montanans face, while supporting the cottage food industry. It will allow test marketing of products made at home-based kitchens at farmers markets and will save producers thousands of dollars in renting or acquiring commercial grade equipment. After 8 years of education, legislative, and political pressure this bill finally legalizes the sale of raw milk in Montana joining most of the country in allowing the sale of raw milk and products made from raw milk.
AFP-MT advocated for the following legislation that has passed the Legislature and is awaiting signature by Governor Gianforte:
Revise laws relating to certificate of need (H.B. 231): Eliminates Certificate of Need (CON) requirements for all health care facilities, with the exception of long-term care services and facilities.
Revise laws related to dispensing of drugs by medical practitioners (S.B. 374): Allows doctors to sell certain medicines directly to patients, increasing competition and improving care for Montana’s patients.
Exempt health care sharing ministries from insurance laws (S.B. 149): Creates a regulatory safe harbor for health care sharing ministries to prevent them from being regulated as insurance. This legislation also includes some additional, sensible consumer protections to curtail misleading marketing tactics and ensure informed consent.
Emergency Powers Reform (HB 230): AFP-MT’s comprehensive state-level emergency powers reform legislation. This consensus bill creates greater legislative accountability for future emergency and disaster declarations with an affordable mail polling process built into the bill. It includes civil liberty’s protections during emergencies.
Eliminate restrictions on nuclear facility development (H.B. 273):Reduces restrictions on creating new nuclear facilities, by eliminating a regulation imposed only on nuclear power but no other type of energy generation.
Revise laws related to tax credit scholarship and innovative education programs (H.B. 279):Helps more students afford various educational opportunities by raising the tax credit cap for donations to the state’s scholarship program from $150 to $200,000 and losing some of the operational rules that prevent SSO’s from raising and dispersing funds. This program will help more of Montana’s low-income students access educational options they otherwise couldn’t afford—helping Montana’s youth realize their potential and actualize their individual gifts.
Revise the Family Education Savings Act (H.B. 129): Allows families with 529 education savings plans – tax-free college savings accounts – to use the funds to also pay for K-12 education expenses. This would effectively allow families to make their tuition and education spending tax-free. This was part of AFP-MT’s education reform package.
A fiscally responsible budget: The Legislature has passed what is probably the most fiscally responsible budget in 16 years. Growing general fund spending by only 0.75% per year, well below the inflation and population adjusted rates. The budget begins the process of re-building a solid rainy-day fund. While also cutting taxes and reducing the tax liability for businesses attempting to invest in capital projects. We applaud the investment in treatment – rather than incarceration – for the HEART Fund tackling drug and mental health treatment.