On Thursday, I presented House Bill 231 to the Local Government Committee. This bill is designed to take away an unfunded state mandate which requires that cities with more than 10,000 people not use volunteer firefighters. Instead, current state law requires those fire departments to have only paid firefighters, limiting the safety of firefighters by the amount a city can budget for firefighters. The bill is contentious because union firefighters see it as a threat to the jobs of union firefighters. The committee will take executive action on the bill in the next few days.
I’m also carrying House Bill 311, which makes it a felony to fraudulently take money using a workers compensation claim. This bill dovetails with another bill that is designed to reduce workers compensation rates by up to 44% within the first year. Montana has the highest workers compensation rates in the nation, making the rates a deterrent to creating new businesses and new jobs. I presented HB 311 to Labor and Industry committee today, and I believe the committee received it well. Should see executive action on it next week.