This week is the seventh week of the Montana Legislature. We have now completed one-third of the 2019 session.
Last week, the Senate passed Senate Bill 160, a bill providing presumptive illness coverage to firefighters. Presumptive illness coverage makes it easier for firefighters to prove workers’ compensation claims. We also passed the state pay plan and the bill providing an inflationary increase for public schools.
Several of my bills also advanced last week. Senate Bill 83, a bill eliminating abusive practices by pharmacy benefit managers, advanced out of the House Business and Labor committee on a 18-1 vote. Senate Bill 125, a bill creating a reinsurance pool for health insurance sold in the individual market, advanced out of committee on a 10-0 vote. Senate Bill 125 should reduce health insurance premiums anywhere from 15% to 20%.
Besides these bills, another bill I introduced, Senate Bill 205 passed the Senate. Senate Bill 205 prevents a person who steals from a vulnerable adult (a person over the age of 60 and suffering from a disability) from inheriting any property from the vulnerable adult.
In the House, House Bill 318, sponsored by Frank Garner of Kalispell, passed an initial vote by a 17-3 margin. House Bill 318 is intended to eliminate fraud and corrupt practices in political party central committees. A central committee is the official political party organization in a county. House Bill 318 prohibits a central committee from adopting secret rules, using fraudulent proxies, and arbitrarily removing committee representatives from office.
I intend to vote for House Bill 318. We should not tolerate, in any fashion, fraudulent or corrupt practices in our political parties. Unfortunately, many of these practices are occurring in the Cascade County Republican Central Committee. During a meeting in October, party leadership voted fraud proxies in an attempt to stack the committee with supporters. In addition, party leadership adopted secret rules designed to remove committee representatives who oppose current leadership.
Unlike other private organizations, a central committee exercises powers granted by the State of Montana. A central committee is granted the power to fill vacancies for political offices. This is an important power because it gives the central committee the ability to select our public officials. Since central committees play an important role in the election process, they should be required to act ethically and to refrain from fraud and corrupt practices.
Thank you for the opportunity to represent you. Next week will be a busy week as we approach the halfway point.