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Senator Welborn's Transmittal Break Report

HELENA: This week we reached our transmittal break, marking the halfway point of the 68th Legislature. Probably the most-publicized legislation so far is our tax relief package, which we refer to as the “8 pack.” We’ve also passed a number of technology-focused privacy bills, scores of red tape relief bills, and several bills to further improve the integrity of our elections.

The “8 pack” tax relief package includes two bills providing one-time income and property tax rebates to Montanans, two bills providing permanent tax relief to individuals, two bills permanently reducing taxes on Montana businesses, one bill paying off the state’s debt, and one bill investing in road and bridge infrastructure to prevent future tax increases. Altogether, the bills add up to $1 billion in tax relief, making this the largest tax cut in Montana history. Several bills protecting Montanan's right to privacy, have been advancing through the legislative process. Banning the state from using continuous facial recognition surveillance technology drew bipartisan support in the Senate. The Genetic Information Privacy Act would require companies that work with genetic information to be transparent about the usage of that information. The Consumer Data Privacy Act requires companies to obtain consent prior to gathering or using Montanans’ electronic data, and gives Montanans the right to have their data deleted.

There are also two, really important water rights & policy bills moving through the process. These proposals are the product of a stakeholder driven process, led by Lt. Governor Juris, and vetted by a diverse group of stakeholders, including the Legislative Water Policy Interim Committee, over the past 20 months. My fingers are crossed these will stay alive. Overall, the Senate has been working in partnership with Governor Gianforte, in a fairly bi-partisan fashion, to help get government off the backs of hardworking Montanans. In total, 185 Red Tape Relief bills have been introduced this session, with 12 having been signed by the Governor already and another 41 headed to his desk for his signature. Another 104 have already passed their first chamber. These bills cover a variety of regulatory areas, but one thing they have in common is that they make it easier for people to live, work, and recreate in Montana. Speaking of recreation in Montana, I'd be remiss, if I failed to mention SB 497, a bill introduced this past week, seeking to change laws related to prescriptive easements, by opening up Stream Access statute. I was contacted by literally hundreds of folks on this issue, and not a single one was in support, thanks for weighing in, it helps drive sound decisions.

Without going into the details, this was a poorly written proposal, introduced in the 11th hour, and being promoted only by a couple of lobbyists, representing a small group of both non-resident and Montana based interests, but certainly not part of any collaboration, or stakeholder driven group whatsoever.

Thankfully we were able to kill this measure on the Senate Floor in a huge bi-partisan fashion, where I spoke against this proposal, it died with 36 Senators voting no, and only 14 voting yes. The halfway point of the legislative session is a good time to reflect on what’s been accomplished. Although I’ve only highlighted a few areas, that we have been working on. Pushing back on regulations, protecting our privacy, common sense outdoor recreation policy, water rights protections , a sensible budget that Montana can afford and inflation relief for our State, are just a few examples of the good work being done.

I will be back in Dillon for the first part of this coming week, traveling back to Helena on Thursday to gavel back in to start the second half of the session. Please stay in touch on the issue's important to you

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