This week the Montana Legislature started its 2019 session. Just like last session, I will be sending out weekly updates to let you know about some of things happening at the Montana Legislature.
I am beginning my second session in the Montana Senate. Several months ago, I was elected by my colleagues in the Republican Party to serve as Majority Whip. The duties of the Majority Whip are to assist the President and Majority Leader, ensure the attendance of Senate members at hearings and meetings, and to assist with the communication of the caucus position.
I have always felt it is important to have someone from our area participating in leadership. This ensures our area has a voice when important decisions are being made on the state budget and on important legislation which affects our area.
Besides being elected Majority Whip, I have been selected to serve as Chairman of the Senate Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs committee. This committee is one of the busiest and most important committees in the Legislature. The Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs committee has jurisdiction over legislation involving insurance, banking, corporations, alcohol regulation, and licensing boards. This session I anticipate a number of key bills will pass through our committee including legislation affecting pharmacy benefit managers and legislation designed to reduce the cost of individual health insurance plans.
I will also be serving on the Highways and Transportation committee and the Local Government committee. The Highways and Transportation committee has jurisdiction over all forms of transportation including motor vehicles, railroads, bicycles, and airplanes. The committee also handles bills pertaining to motor vehicle regulation and fuel taxes. The Local Government committee has jurisdiction over cities and town, counties, parks, subdivision development, and zoning and planning.
This session I anticipate a rigorous debate over Medicaid expansion. In 2015, the Montana Legislature passed legislation expanding the Medicaid program. The legislation contained a provision terminating the program in 2019. Thus, if the program is going to continue, the Legislature will need to reauthorize the program.
As always, I want to thank you for the opportunity to represent you in the Montana Senate. It is a tremendous honor to represent the people of Cascade County. I am looking forward to a productive 2019 session. Next week, I will provide you with an outline of some of the legislation I will be sponsoring this session.