Montana State Senator Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls

 

Last week, the Montana Legislature began its 2019 session.  The first week of the Montana Legislature is generally a time when introductory work begins in committees and the first bills start being heard.  By the end of this week, we should start debating bills on the Senate floor.  

In the Senate Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs committee, we held joint hearings with the House Business and Labor committee.  In these joint hearings, we listened to presentations by various state agencies on topics such as insurance regulation, workers’ compensation, alcohol regulation, and unemployment insurance.  The purpose of these hearings is to enable the members to have a better understanding of the legal and regulatory context for many of the different bills we hear.

 This week I introduced several bills.  The first bill I introduced is legislation requested by the Montana Supreme Court to eliminate outdated code requiring the court administrator to pay certain legal costs.  The court administrator no longer pays these expenses and therefore is requesting a change in the code to eliminate the requirement to pay the costs.

The second bill I introduced is legislation requested by the Insurance Commissioner.  This legislation is intended to allow for greater availability of insurance known as surplus lines insurance.  Surplus lines generally provide insurance coverage for unusual or hard to insure risks.  In some parts of Montana, it has become difficult to obtain insurance coverage and surplus lines are the only insurance products available.  This legislation should ensure greater access to more affordable surplus lines products throughout Montana.

Besides these bills, I have also drafted a couple of bills based upon things I have seen in my law practice which I believe are unfair or unjust.  I have drafted legislation to prohibit insurance companies from excluding coverage for certain types of storm events and I have drafted legislation which provides penalties for people who file false statements with the Clerk and Recorder.

Lastly, at the request of several local pharmacies, I have introduced legislation to stop some abusive practices by pharmacy benefit managers.  My legislation prohibits a pharmacy benefit manager from charging a customer a copay greater than the cost of the prescription drug and from prohibiting a pharmacy from mailing a prescription drug to a customer.  The Insurance Commissioner will be supporting my bill.

As always, I appreciate the opportunity to represent you.  If you have any questions, please feel free to call or email me.