State Administration and Veterans' Affairs Interim Committee

SAVA Elects Officers, Sketches Out Interim Plans

Committee: State Administration and Veterans' Affairs Interim Committee
Author: Sheri Scurr
Posted on August 31, 2017

Legislative Council

At its first meeting of the interim July 20, the State Administration and Veterans’ Affairs Interim Committee elected Sen. Sue Malek (D-Missoula) as presiding officer and Sen. Doug Kary (R-Billings) as vice presiding officer.  Additionally, the committee adopted a preliminary list of meeting dates and selected topics to examine this interim.

The committee does not have an assigned study so is able to makes its own plans regarding which topics to tackle during the course of the interim.

The committee agreed that the top two issues it will examine this interim are as follows:

  • The maintenance or replacement of aging voting systems.  These systems were purchased by counties more than a decade ago with help from federal funding through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). County election administrators told the committee that the most critical need now is to replace the old AutoMark systems, which are used by disabled voters to help them mark their ballots. County optical scan vote tabulation systems are also aging and will likely also need to be replaced very soon.
  • The actuarial funding status of the public employee retirement systems.  The Public Employees’ Retirement Board, which oversees nine of 11 statewide public employee retirement systems, recently adjusted the actuarial assumptions used to evaluate whether the systems are soundly funded.  The most significant change was reducing the investment rate of return assumption from 7.75% to 7.65%.  The net impact of the assumption changes lowered funded ratios and increased the time required to amortize system liabilities in nearly all of the systems.   

The committee identified the following additional topics for study this interim as second tier priorities:

  • Campaign contribution limits.
  • Veterans’ affairs, specifically suicide prevention updates and the benefit claims process.
  • Special district election laws with respect to inconsistencies in voter eligibility criteria and other aspects of special district election administration.
  • A review of statutes governing when county and municipal/city commission primary elections may be canceled and whether a commission must be elected on a partisan or nonpartisan basis.
  • Monitoring implementation of state pay plan changes recently adopted by the legislature.

The committee will review and may revise this list at its September 14 meeting.

Committee members also agreed to not allow proxy votes and to receive statutorily required reports from agencies by mail rather than as briefings during committee meetings unless a committee member has a specific question or request.

Next Meeting

The committee’s next meeting will be on September 14.  The meeting will be live streamed at and will be broadcast on Television Montana (TVMT). Please check your local channel listings to find TVMT in your area. For more information about the meeting, including a full agenda, please visit the committee’s website or contact Sheri Scurr, committee staff.

Committee Website:
Committee Staff: or 406-444-3596