Recognizing the ripple effects that COVID-19 is having on Montana's $4 to $5 billion agriculture and livestock industry, the Economic Affairs Interim Committee requested letters supporting faster disbursement of federal impact funds and regulatory easing.

These letters follow similar letters from Montana's congressional delegation and the Governor's Office. In particular, after hearing from Mike Honeycutt at the Department of Livestock during an April 30 teleconference call, the legislative interim panel requested flexible regulations for custom butchers in Montana to address COVID-19 related disruptions to meat and poultry processors. The members also asked for quicker disbursement of $16 billion in federal impact funds that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act set aside for the nation's ag and livestock producers. Both letters are on the committee's website at under Meeting Information.

In other actions, the committee requested a temporary hold on a proposed Board of Chiropractors rule to allow dry needling by chiropractors. In 2015 the committee had heard a similar request from the Board of Physical Therapy Examiners and had requested a hold on that rule. Acupuncturists had requested the 2015 delay, contending dry needling is another name for acupuncture. Members of the Economic Affairs Interim Committee who had heard those 2015 protests suggested adding time on the June 30 committee agenda to see if concerns remain about nonacupuncturists doing dry needling.

The committee also heard updates from:

  • the Montana director of the Small Business Administration regarding loans for COVID-19 related shutdowns. Brent Donnelly addressed both the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
  • the acting Commissioner of Labor and Industry, Brenda Nordlund, who reported on the $22 million paid out in unemployment since March 15 to slightly more than 7,000 claimants.
  • the executive director of the Board of Horseracing, who reviewed the potential for historical horseracing to bring additional money to help the horse breeding and racing industries;

Other COVID-related reviews addressed surveys of the finance, business, medical, and nonprofit industries.

For meeting materials and copies of the letters see the Committee website or contact Committee staff.

Committee website:
Committee staff: Pat Murdo,, or 406-444-3594

The Legislative News.