2017 Montana Legislature
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HOUSE BILL NO. 576
INTRODUCED BY J. HAMILTON
A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: "AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A LEGISLATIVE SESSION CHANGE COMMITTEE TO STUDY THE LEGISLATURE FOR THE PURPOSES OF SPLITTING THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION BETWEEN THE ODD-NUMBERED AND EVEN-NUMBERED YEARS OF A BIENNIUM AND HOLDING THE MAJORITY OF THE SESSION IN THE EVEN-NUMBERED YEAR; PROVIDING AN APPROPRIATION; PROVIDING A CONTINGENT VOIDNESS; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE AND A TERMINATION DATE."
WHEREAS, term limits and shifting political preferences have created higher turnover of experienced representatives and senators than has historically occurred, causing a greater proportion of inexperienced legislators; and
WHEREAS, it is in the interest of the legislative body that newly elected legislators function effectively and efficiently, and the proximity of the initiation of the legislative session to the election leaves little time for preparation; and
WHEREAS, in order to solve this issue it would be desirable to allow newly elected legislators time to build relationships and work through thoughtful bill creation while working to understand the parts and processes of establishing a budget, of setting revenue estimates, and of the appropriations process; and
WHEREAS, thoughtful study of this issue by a committee would allow time to develop a new session schedule that would provide for an A LIMITED, initial short meeting period, preferably 6 to 10 legislative days, and an interim recess before the legislature would reconvene in the even-numbered year; and
WHEREAS, the study committee would be charged with organizing a schedule for the legislature to spend a recess interim period in committees for new legislators to come to know their fellow legislators, while learning through both observation as well as participation, and the process and procedures of effective, efficient committee work; and
WHEREAS, the study committee will discuss which standing committees may need to meet to accomplish the work for a single fiscal transition year; and
WHEREAS, thoughtful study of the intricacies of the transition is needed with the many stakeholders who participate in a legislative session.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
NEW SECTION. Section 1. Legislative session change committee. (1) There is a legislative session change committee. It is composed of:
(a) eight legislators, four from the house of representatives appointed by the speaker and four from the senate appointed by the committee on committees. The speaker and the committee on committees shall appoint membership in equal numbers from the majority and minority parties as provided in 5-5-211.
(b) four members appointed by the governor to include a representative of the public, a representative of the governor's office, and two representatives from state agencies that would be most affected by the change; and
(c)(B) the executive director of the legislative services division, who shall be IS a nonvoting, ex officio member.
(2) The appointments must be made by July 1, 2017. The appointments are made for a term ending December 31, 2018. A vacancy must be filled in the same manner as the original appointment.
(3) The committee members shall elect a presiding officer who must be a legislator.
(4) Legislators who are members of the committee shall MUST be reimbursed for expenses by the legislative services division as provided in 5-2-302. The public member is entitled to reimbursement for expenses by the legislative services division, as provided in 2-18-501 through 2-18-503. Members who are state employees may be reimbursed for expenses by their respective agency as provided in 2-18-501 through 2-18-503.
(5) The legislative services division shall provide staffing and administrative services for the committee.
NEW SECTION. Section 2. Study of revising legislative session. (1) The legislative session change committee shall study the possibility of splitting the legislative session between the odd and even year.
(2) The committee must MAY study and develop recommendations for:
(a) the legislature to meet in the odd year, as provided in law, for a limited time to organize, adopt rules and a budget for the legislative session, make standing committee appointments, confirm gubernatorial appointments, provide for training and mentorship, CONSIDER GENERAL LEGISLATION, and organize for recess work;
(b) the adoption of the revenue-estimating resolution and adopting a balanced budget for a transition fiscal year;
(c) meeting early each even-numbered year, within the remaining number of session days, to consider general legislation and a biennial budget for the next 2 fiscal years;
(d) the most beneficial use of the interim in recess between sessions by either interim or standing committees and the period following sine die of the legislature in the even-numbered year; and
(e) the potential legal implications of splitting the legislative session between the odd and even year.
(3) The committee must consult with affected stakeholders such as the public, legislative leadership, the secretary of the senate and chief clerk of the house, the governor's office, the office of budget and program planning, state agencies, and lobbyists. The committee must dedicate some of its meeting time on public hearings to hear from Montana citizens.
(4) The committee is authorized to include in its study other areas that are related to legislative sessions and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the legislature.
(5) The committee shall:
(a) complete its work by September 15, 2018;
(b) report the results of its study to the legislative council, the legislative finance committee, and to the 66th regular session of the legislature; and
(c) draft proposed legislation and changes to legislative rules to accomplish the split session.
NEW SECTION. Section 3. Study of revising budget process. (1) The legislative finance committee shall study the budgeting process provided in Title 17, for the purpose of identifying the changes necessary to transition the budget cycle to accommodate the revised legislative calendar.
(2) The legislative finance committee shall meet with the legislative session change committee, keep the committee informed of its progress, and consult with the legislative council on other procedural or rule changes necessary to implement the transition. The legislative finance committee must make recommendations to the legislative session change committee on what is necessary to effect the change by August 15, 2018.
(3) The legislative council and the interim committees provided for in Title 5, chapter 5, part 2, shall review related statutory obligations and legislative processes and provide recommendations by August 15, 2018, for a complete transition.
NEW SECTION. Section 4. Appropriation. There is appropriated $30,000 for the biennium beginning July 1, 2017, from the general fund to the legislative services division for the purposes of conducting the study in [sections 1 through 3].
NEW SECTION. Section 5. Contingent voidness. (1) Pursuant to Joint Rule 40-65, if [this act] does not include an appropriation prior to being transmitted to the governor, then [this act] is void.
(2) If the appropriation in [section 4] is vetoed and the veto is not overridden by the legislature, then [this act] is void.
NEW SECTION. Section 6. Effective date. [This act] is effective July 1, 2017.
NEW SECTION. Section 7. Termination. [This act] terminates December 31, 2018.
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Latest Version of HB 576 (HB0576.03)
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