April 18, 2017 Legislative Update

The following is the latest from the MSE lobbyist on the latest infrastructure spending.

 

This should be the final week of the legislature. Infrastructure has been left to the final days (as we have experienced in the last few sessions). SB 335 the Public Private Partnership Bill was defeated 95 to 4 in the House last week. There were some amendments made to the bill in Committee that dramatically changed the bill and then a lot of confusion on the House floor as to the implications. There is a study bill that will be implemented during the Interim and we should continue to follow this issue.

The following is the update from the Infrastructure Coalition regarding the remaining infrastructure legislation:

HB 473 – Bridge and Road Safety and Accountability Act The fuel tax bill was passed 3rd Reading in the Senate last week. The bill, however, was heavily amended so it will return to the House for concurrence. If the House fails to concur on the amendments, we head to conference committee.

In the current bill, the tax on gasoline was dropped from $0.08 per gallon down to $0.045 in the first year, and will stair-step up over six years to a high of $0.06. The tax on diesel was dropped from $0.0725 to just $0.015 in the first year and rising to $0.02 over six years. This would amount to a significant decrease in revenues, likely at the local level; however, the bill is now coupled with HB 650 which increases vehicle registration fees and the “Maserati tax” to pay for DMV and the Highway Patrol rather than allocating any fuel tax monies to those functions. If HB 650 passes along with the amended HB 473, MDT would be fully capable of making their federal match, highway patrol would be funded, and the local allocation would range from about $16 million in year one to about $28 million in year six. I have prepared new tables to illustrate this range of allocations by city and county, but want to wait and make sure there are no further modifications before circulating.

Many of you will recall that the “bonding bill” last session failed to pass by a single vote. There was widespread disagreement over whether the legislature should bond or pay cash, and there was consternation about some specific projects included in the bill. This session, there are House and Senate versions of a bonding bill (SB 367-Moore; and HB 645-Cuffe). The House version contains about $20 million less in bonding for local projects and schools, but funds about $78 million in projects. The Senate bill has more for schools and some local projects and comes in at around $98 million. Both bills currently include funding for the VA center and Romney Hall, but exclude the Montana history museum, in Helena. The museum is now contained within HB 660 (see below). HB 645 was tabled in committee, but remains alive and ready for action if the Senate version fails this week. SB 367 has been heard in Senate appropriations and is awaiting executive action this week.

I would anticipate further discussion on the “right” amount of bonding in the bill, and whether MSU should come up with some matching monies for Romney Hall or whether the Legislature will fund the entire project. As a Coalition, we need to support the bill as it comes out of committee, so long as it remains close to its current form.

HB 660 is awaiting 2nd Reading in the Senate. This bill raises the bed tax by one percent, the revenue from which will fund construction of the museum. The Coalition was sitting on the sidelines on this bill until the Hotel and Lodging Association (a Coalition member) agreed to some amendments and came out in support of the bill. We now encourage your active engagement in supporting this bill to ensure that it receives the necessary level of support in both chambers.

Please let me know if you have any questions and I will continue to keep you updated as things evolve this week.

Thanks!

Jennifer

AFIT/CE

The Air Force Institute of Technology, or AFIT, is the Air Force’s graduate school of engineering and management as well as its institution for technical professional continuing education. A component of Air University and Air Education and Training Command, AFIT is committed to providing defense-focused graduate and professional continuing education and research to sustain the technological supremacy of America’s air and space forces.

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Benefis Health System

As a not-for-profit community health system, Benefis is driven to provide the highest level of care. We serve nearly 230,000 residents across a 15-county region that is bigger than Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont combined. Benefis is the largest non-governmental employer in the Great Falls area, with more than 3,000 employees.

Benefis has 530 licensed beds (that includes 146 beds in long-term care, 71 in assisted living and 20 beds at Peace Hospice of Montana) and partners with over 250 area physicians.

Our hospital has been recognized for its exceptional work in quality care by providing a wide range of programs and services to help you live the best life possible. We’re here to help you “Live well.”

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Garratt-Callahan

Now in our second century of service, Garratt-Callahan isn’t just an experienced company. We’re a company of experienced professionals, from our field engineers to our technical service departments. Together, we’re focused on the same mission that has guided
Garratt-Callahan for over 100 years. We offer effective, efficient, and safe water treatment. We deliver unrivaled customer service and we promise complete customer satisfaction. For you, that adds up to water treatment programs you can depend on, risks reduced to a minimum, peak system performance, and lower operating costs.

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Three Rivers Engineering

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Three Rivers Engineering was founded in January of 2001. we provide engineering services to clients in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, New Mexico and California.

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KDW Salas O’Brien

SALAS O’BRIEN is an ENR Top 300 facilities planning, design, and construction management firm. We make complex environments simple to understand and highly functional. We integrate all disciplines to create the most reliable, sustainable, relevant, coordinated, and cost-effective projects. Our team members combine intelligence and dedication with years of practical knowledge to ensure your project is successful and your experience is satisfying.

United Properties, Inc.

United Properties traces its roots back to 1916 when it was formed to manage the real estate assets of the Hamm’s Brewing Company. Today, United Properties is a privately-owned commercial real estate development and investment firm with offices in Minneapolis and Denver and properties in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado and Illinois.

Headquartered in Minneapolis, United Properties is a top developer in the retail, residential, office, medical and industrial sectors in the Twin Cities. In addition to a large presence in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market, United Properties has extensive operations in Colorado where it develops and invests in retail, office, and industrial buildings. In 2012, Meridian Land Company, specializing in residential development and investment, became a subsidiary of United Properties.

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AMERESCO

Ameresco, Inc. is a leading independent provider of comprehensive energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions for facilities throughout North America and the United Kingdom, delivering long-term value through innovative systems, strategies and technologies. Ameresco’s solutions range from upgrades to facility’s energy infrastructure to the development, construction and operation of renewable energy plants combined with tailored financial solutions. We work with customers on both sides of the meter to reduce operating expenses, upgrade and maintain facilities, stabilize energy costs, improve occupancy comfort levels, increase energy reliability and enhance the environment.

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Gordon-Prill-Drapes

In 1979, Gordon-Prill was founded in Missoula, Montana by engineers James E. Gordon and Ray L. Prill on a concept of quality, integrity and creativity. Shortly thereafter they bought Drapes, Inc. to become Gordon Prill Drapes (GPD).

GPD provided complete mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) design and, with their initial concept proving very successful, they expanded their services into project management to a group of diversified industrial and educational clients throughout the Western United States.

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