The committee will review draft legislation and continue various study topics in July.
After the cancellation of its March meeting, the LGIC discussed a full slate of topics on May 14. The committee requested draft legislation on the following topics:
- Increase funding for the Montana State University Local Government Center;
- Create more effective data collection processes for local governments to allow for better data analysis in the future;
- Require the Department of Environmental Quality to approve experimental on-site wastewater systems;
- Create the option for fire departments and districts to create fire protection authorities (similar to SB17 from the 2019 session); and
- Provide for workforce housing tax credits (similar to SB18 from the 2019 session).
Additionally, the committee chose to continue analyzing the following topics:
- Determine if adequate oversight procedures exist to ensure the effective operation of elected and appointed special district boards; and
- Determine if the low-income and medium-income housing loan program created by HB16 in 2019 is worthy of reauthorization for the next biennium.
The committee also received multiple updates related to the COVID-19 emergency. Representatives from the Montana Association of Counties and the Montana League of Cities and Towns reviewed the actions of local governments during the emergency and discussed some of the unique challenges that local governments face. The Director of Commerce described the work of the Coronavirus Relief Fund Advisory Council and discussed the multiple grant programs recently established to combat the economic challenges of citizens and businesses.
To continue its work on SJ3: study of optional septic drain fields, the committee received updates on the Subdivision Development Advisory Council and the Department of Environmental Quality's continued work on a comprehensive rule update currently underway.
The LGIC will meet July 14 & 15 to review bill drafts and continue its study topics. Draft legislation will be available on the committee website as it becomes available, and those who wish to submit comment to committee staff are encouraged to do so.
The Legislative News.