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  • Margie MacDonald

Bad Landlord/Tenant Bills, Expensive Tax Bills -- Week 4 of the Legislature

Legislative Bulletin Jan 30

Top priorities:

  • Two troubling landlord-tenant bills passed narrowly out of the House Judiciary Committee, HB 282 and HB 283, brought by Rep. Steve Galloway (R-Great Falls)

  • SB 121 (Becky Beard, R-Helena), the Governor’s income tax bill with its massive price tag, costing up to $179 million by year 3 and up from there, passed 2nd reading on a party line vote and was referred to the Finance and Claims Committee for a hearing.

Calls and letters needed!

Older Renters Are at Risk with

HB 282 and HB 283

Many older Montanans live in rentals, for a variety of reasons. HB 282 and HB 283 jeopardize the rights and housing of thousands of Montana elders who rent, especially where markets are hot.

In testimony opposing HB 282, Big Sky 55+ lobbyist Margie MacDonald shared the story of a Columbia Falls disabled 68-year-old veteran who lost his rental when his monthly rent went from $1,000 including utilities to $1,800 NOT including utilities. Read the story here.

  • Current Landlord-tenant laws are a delicate balance between the rights of renters and landlords. They were crafted several decades ago after a years-long negotiation between landlord groups and renters' groups.

  • HB 282 and HB 283 were written by and for landlords without consultation or agreement from tenant groups.

  • HB 282 significantly rewrites the due process by which a landlord might remove a tenant from their home. It also accelerates the time frames for removing renters from their homes.

  • HB 283 undercuts local ability to regulate rentals and promote affordable housing.

Here's another take on these bills by the What The Funk 406 blog:

Specifics noted in the bill include:

  1. Protections for landlords to issue 24 hour notices for property access or to correct rental agreement violations with tenants facing eviction proceedings within 3 days for refusing property access.

  2. Putting extra stress on our already overloaded courts by significantly shortening the filing due dates and hearing scheduling windows. Meaning, where courts and tenants typically had a cushion of anywhere from 10-20 days before, multiple lines of Sections 70-24 and 70-33, MCA have been amended to an allowance of only 5 days instead.

Interestingly, or maybe better put – strategically, in reference to the 24 hour notices, there are no exceptions for tenants who may be working out of town, be hospitalized, on vacation, or otherwise. In sum, tenants who are working hard, severely ill, or enjoying time off away from home can find themselves in the crosshairs of their landlord’s impatience.

Both HB 282 and HB 283 passed out of House Judiciary this week by a single vote; calls and letters are critical to stop the bills on second reading.

Contact members of the House to vote NO on HB 282 and HB 283. Express your support of keeping housing for older Montanans.

For more information, check out the Billings Gazette article about these two bills.

SB 121, a Tax Break for Montana’s Richest Passes 2nd Reading; Sent to Finance & Claims in the Senate

Gov. Greg Gianforte’s bill to lower the top tax rate, SB 121, passed 2nd reading in the Senate on a party-line vote.

  • SB 121 carries a mind-boggling price tag, costing the state over $179 million annually by year 3 and more annually moving forward.

  • Montana’s wealthiest 10% (earning more than $500k/year) would be awarded $6000/year on average.

  • Montanans earning $43,000-$67,000, would see $50 on average.

The bill is predicated on the thoroughly debunked “supply-side” theories claiming that tax breaks for the wealthy generate jobs and economic growth. When asked for recognized, peer-reviewed research to validate that premise, during the bill’s hearing, proponents stumbled, falling back on the “Laffer Curve” and Reaganomics.

Big Sky 55+ Board member Jon Ellingson, former majority leader of the Montana Senate, analyzes the ineffectiveness of these kinds of tax incentives here.

On our Radar

"Right to Work" (i.e. anti-union)

SB 140 (Keith Regier, R-Kalispell), targeting Montana’s nurses for “right to work” treatment was stopped in the Senate Business and Labor Committee.

HB 216 (Bill Mercer, R-Billings), a broader Right to Work bill directed at public employees was heard in the House State Administration Committee and is pending action.

We oppose both bills.

Long-Term Care

  • Despite being in crisis, Montana’s long-term care facilities received ZERO mention in Gov. Greg Gianforte’s hour-long State of the State address on Wednesday Jan. 25.

  • This map illustrates Montana communities that lost long-term care facilities over the past year. (Compiled by the Montana Healthcare Association) Click here for a larger image.

Join Us!!

“We the People” will rally at the Capital in Helena at Noon, Wednesday, Feb. 1 to honor and stand up for Montana’s internationally acclaimed and recognized Constitution.

Our next Legislative Town Hall -- Feb 6 at 6pm:

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