17-5-1527. Procedure prior to financing major projects. (1) The board may finance major projects under this part only when it finds that:
(a) the financing is in the public interest and is consistent with legislative purposes and findings;
(b) the financing to be provided by the board for a project does not exceed either $50 million or 90% of the cost or appraised value of the project, whichever is less;
(c) a financial institution will participate in financing the project if the cost or appraised value is less than $1 million, either directly or through a letter of credit, to the extent of at least 10% of the financing to be provided by the board, provided, however, that participation by a financial institution in projects of over $1 million is at the discretion of the board;
(d) the financing for the project is insured or guaranteed in whole or in part by a private or governmental insurer or guarantor;
(e) any contracts to construct the projects require all contractors to give preference to the employment of bona fide Montana residents, as defined in 18-2-401, in the performance of the work on the projects if their qualifications are substantially equal to those of nonresidents. "Substantially equal qualifications" means the qualifications of two or more persons among whom the employer cannot make a reasonable determination that the qualifications held by one person are significantly better suited for the position than the qualifications held by the other persons.
(f) adequate provision is made in the loan agreement, lease, or other credit arrangement regarding a project or projects being financed to provide for payment of debt service on bonds of the board issued to finance the project or projects, to create and maintain reserves for payment of the debt service, and to meet all costs and expenses of issuing and servicing the bonds; and
(g) an applicant has submitted a statement that indicates that any contract let for a project costing more than $25,000 and financed from the proceeds of bonds issued under this part on or after July 1, 1993, will contain a provision that requires the contractor to pay the standard prevailing wage rate in effect and applicable to the district in which the work is being performed unless the contractor performing the work has entered into a collective bargaining agreement covering the work to be performed.
(2) In order to make the findings as described in subsection (1)(a), a hearing must be conducted in the following manner:
(a) the city or county in which the project will be located must be notified, and within 14 days shall advise the board if it elects to conduct the hearing; or
(b) if a request for a local hearing is not received, the board may hold the hearing at a time and place it prescribes.
(3) If the hearing required by subsection (2) is conducted by a local government, the governing body of the local government shall notify the board of its determination of whether the project is in the public interest within 14 days of the completion of the public hearing.
(4) When a hearing is required either locally or at the state level, notice must be given, at least once a week for 2 weeks prior to the date set for the hearing, by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the city or county where the hearing will be held. The notice must include the time and place of the hearing; the general nature of the project; the name of the lessee, borrower, or user of the project; and the estimated cost of the project.
(5) The requirements of subsections (1)(b) through (1)(d) do not apply to bonds that are not secured by the capital reserve account authorized by 17-5-1515.
(6) The hearing requirements of subsections (2) through (4) do not apply to major projects financed with bonds the interest on which is subject to federal income taxes.
(7) The board is encouraged to consider applications for project financing related to infrastructure and facilities necessary for the development of the state-owned coal assets.