Montana’s 2023 Pro-Housing Bills
"The 2023 Legislative session has given rise to a number of housing reforms, many of which focus on getting government barriers out of the way of Montanans' wanting to build affordable starter homes."
The 2023 Legislative session has given rise to a number of housing reforms, many of which focus on getting government barriers out of the way of Montanans’ wanting to build affordable starter homes. Here is snapshot of some of the biggest reforms:
HB 337 – Rep. Katie Zolnikov (R) HD 45
Local governments in Montana routinely mandate large lot sizes, which causes housing to cost more than it otherwise would, had smaller lot sizes been allowed. HB 337 addresses this by ensuring governments can’t mandate excessive lot sizes in Montana cities. This bill was tabled in committee.
SB 245 – Daniel Zolnikov (R) SD 22
Many of Montana’s most thriving historic mainstreets have a vibrant mix of business and housing, yet many of these would struggle to be built under today’s overly strict zoning. SB 245 addresses this by restoring the right of Montanans to build multifamily or mixed-use housing in existing commercial or retail zones. This bill passed it’s second reading on the Senate floor
SB 323 – Jeremy Trebas (R) SD 13
Governments across Montana consistently penalize or prohibit the most affordable starter homes from large portions of our communities – a textbook example of California-style zoning. SB 323 reverses California-style zoning in Montana cities by restoring Montanans’ right to build affordable starter homes like duplexes and triplexes in cities. This bill passed its first committee.
SB 382 – Forrest Mandeville (R) SD 29
The law which shapes land use and housing development in Montana was written in the 1920’s, SB 382 modernizes this text and takes a comprehensive approach to rolling back the California-style zoning regulations which have made their way to Montana. This bill just had its first committee hearing.
HB 553 – Alice Buckley (D) HD 63
Some of the most affordable types of housing, such as Accessory Dwelling Units or manufactured housing, are frequently penalized or prohibited across Montana. HB 553 strengthens property rights by allowing them Montanans’ to choose a home that best fits their needs. This bill was tabled in committee.
Check back in as I will continue to provide you updates on the housing reforms which address the housing crisis by restoring Montanans’ property rights.
MTLeg Weekly Debrief: Week Of Feb 20-24
SB 397 follows Frontier Institute’s recommendations to create standards for government use of facial recognition to protect the privacy rights of Montanans.
HB 562 follows Frontier Institute recommendations to increase education options for Montana families. To see more about this bill see our in-depth analysis comparing and contrasting it with HB 549.
HB 549 aims to establish a charter school option in Montana. To see more about this bill see our in-depth analysis comparing and contrasting it with HB 562.
HB 553 Legalizes Accessory Dwelling Units across Montana and prevents zoning codes from discriminating against manufactured homes.
SB 390 follows Frontier Institute recommendations to fund students and not systems. This bill aims to establish a statewide Education Savings Account (ESA) program.
HB 606 will encourage entrepreneurship by allowing Montanans to operate small businesses out of their home.
HB 605 follows Frontier Institute’s recommendations to eliminate harmful legal doctrines of judicial deference towards the government, requiring instead that Montana judges examine regulations without bias toward a government agency’s interpretation of laws or rules.
SB 395 allows judicial candidates to announce campaign endorsements they have received.
SB 382 follows Frontier Institute’s recommendations to expand areas in Montana’s cities where affordable starter homes are permitted by-right.
Montana v. Portland, OR
Last Wednesday, Attorney General Austin Knudsen filed a federal lawsuit against Portland, Oregon, on behalf of the state. The lawsuit challenges Portland ordinances that block fuel transportation through the city. These ordinances hinder Montana energy products from reaching regional and international markets. Portland is a key transportation hub for energy distribution. Knudsen stated these ordinances violate the US Constitution and federal law.
Our Take: Montana is and should maintain its position as an energy exporter. Ensuring that Montana’s energy products can reach regional and international markets is critical to the state’s energy strategy, as we laid out in the 2022 Montana Energy Strategy.
Graphic of the Week