End of Session Wrap Up
Together, we’ll continue to elevate solutions that break down government barriers so all Montanans can thrive.
“Because of the policies that we enacted, Montana families, businesses and individuals have more freedom to thrive.” — Montana Speaker of the House Wylie Galt
When we published our Montana Recovery Agenda last fall, we noted that voters overwhelmingly wanted lawmakers to deliver on a robust economic recovery.
We outlined 3 policy pillars and eight specific free market reforms that policymakers could implement to unleash our economy post-COVID.
Statewide news coverage highlighted how the Montana Recovery Agenda helped set the 2021 policy agenda early on for lawmakers, noting several leaders with plans to carry legislation to enact our proposals.
With the session now over, lawmakers have clearly delivered on our agenda (and then some).
Here’s where the Montana Recovery stands now:
Limiting the Growth of Government
✅ Lawmakers passed a Conservative Montana Budget, keeping the growth of spending under 4.4% for the biennium following population and inflation. This is a substantial reduction compared to average government growth for the last 16 years.
✅ Governor Gianforte ordered the creation of a Red Tape Relief Task Force, taking the first step toward comprehensive reforms to eliminate unnecessary and wasteful regulations.
Reforming our Broken Healthcare System
✅ SB 101 permanently authorizes Direct Patient Care, allowing medical entrepreneurs the maximum freedom to provide affordable, quality options for healthcare.
✅ HB 43 permanently expands access to telehealth in Montana, locking in regulatory flexibilities that were allowed during the pandemic.
✅ HB 231 repeals protectionist healthcare Certificate of Need laws, which will boost market competition and help drive down healthcare costs.
✅ SB 374 allows doctors to dispense medicine, which will help lower prescription drug costs.
Protecting Individual Rights
✅ HB 479 expands privacy protections in law for digital data.
✅ SB 203 asks voters to update Montana’s Constitution to specifically protect digital data from unwarranted law enforcement searches.
Frontier was proud to have played the integral role in getting these reforms across the finish line. But the work won’t stop here. Together, we’ll continue to elevate solutions that break down government barriers so all Montanans can thrive.
. . .
Missoulian Misses the Mark
- A Missoulian editorial criticized HB 279, which expanded tax credits for donations to school scholarships. The editorial claimed that expanding the program will take tax dollars away from public education to benefit “only a select few wealthy Montanans.”
This editorial rests on a faulty claim. The main organizations that provide scholarships in Montana primarily support low and middle income families, not the wealthy. Expanding the program will help grow the amount of money available to support families that would not otherwise have a choice in their education.
- Governor Gianforte announced plans for Montana to became the first state in the nation to fully opt-out of the expanded federal unemployment benefit programs enacted during COVID, which currently pay an extra $300/week to those on the unemployment roles. Instead, Gianforte is launching a “Return-to-work” program, providing bonuses to new hires.
Nearly 37% of workers receiving expanded UI payments make more unemployed than they do at work, reducing incentives to return to the workforce as the economy recovers from pandemic lockdowns. The program has been sharply criticized by those in the business community for contributing to the state’s severe workforce shortage. We’re glad to see Governor Gianforte ending the expanded payments and incentivizing people to get back to work.
- Senator Cary Smith of Billings gave his farewell address to the Montana Senate last week as he concluded his final term in office after over a decade of service.
Senator Smith deserves recognition for being Montana’s foremost champion of healthcare freedom for many years. Despite having his bills vetoed almost every session under Democrat governors, Smith continued to press on, bringing principled free market solutions to the table to promote things like price transparency and more patient choice. This year, Senator Smith finally got the Governor’s signature as he delivered a permanent authorization of Direct Patient Care and allowed doctors to dispense medicine.
Montanans will benefit greatly for years to come from Senator Smith’s perseverance and courage. Thank you for your service!