The Legislative Council met on December 13, 2017, at Montana State University in Bozeman. The council is spending this interim on public outreach across the state. The next meeting will be March 14, 2018 in the Pablo and Polson area.
The council received updates on the Sessions System Replacement project and the activities of the Legal Office including the completion of codification and delivery of the MCA's, current codification of the special session enactments, and the initiatives reviewed to date. They approved additional funding to complete the House and Senate Vote Systems update.
The council received an overview and training on e-mail as public records and the practical side of trying to find a new solution for legislator emails. Passwords, archiving, migration of old emails, and retention times were all discussed. The council will revisit this issue at the next meeting to choose a new email solution and to discuss an appropriate retention time for legislator emails.
The council continues to discuss legislator compensation. For the next meeting, there will be a sample draft of a bill for a compensation commission and other third-party compensation-setting options. In addition, the council will be reviewing the constituent services account to improve the administration of the account.
Another council effort is the concept of changing the size of the legislature. The Montana Constitution provides that the Legislature may be between 40 and 50 senate districts and from 80 to 100 house districts and the size determined by law. When the new Constitution was adopted there was an AG Opinion that overturned the Legislature's statutory redistricting plan which had also stated the size of the legislature. Staff is working on a sample bill and legal and population analysis for the next meeting to provide the Council with information to decide whether to go forward with such a proposal and if they do, how they to get widespread public comment.
Current sexual harassment training and rules for legislators and staff were discussed. The Council will receive more information on other states and the types of resources available for future training.
The Council received testimony about the state Marsh Lab and was able to incorporate a quick tour of the Marsh Lab along with a tour of MSU's Romney Hall accompanied by President Cruzado. The Council and staff thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality provided by President Cruzado and MSU and looks forward to its future meetings around the state. The next meetings planned are March 14, 2018 in the Pablo and Polson area, May 22 and 23, 2018 in Butte, September 19, 2018 in Lewistown, and returning to Helena to have a meeting to coincide with caucus and orientation, tentatively set for November 14-16, 2018.
For more information, please go to the council website or contact Susan Fox.