Session over

May 2, 2011 / Comments (0)


Apr. 28 – The 2011 Montana Legislature has finally ground to a halt. Our thanks to the great MEA-MFT members who called, e-mailed, and rallied to tell legislators the right thing to do. Your help made all the difference.


We had many victories. We stopped a lot of bad bills. We helped restore many of the worst cuts to the state budget (HB 2)


But the decks were stacked against us, with a tea party-controlled Republican majority that just plain did not care that the revenue was available for the pay plan, essential services, etc. They wanted to cut, and cut they did. Results would have been so much worse without MEA-MFT and our members.


Take-home lesson: Please be very careful how you vote in 2012.


Bottom line:

  • No pay increase for state employees for another two years.  Outrageous.  We are exploring options.
  • University system underfunded so tuition increase likely.
  • K-12 funding held its own.  Some oil and gas equalization. 
  • Bonding bill that would have created jobs and built new structures killed for no apparent reason.
  • State ending fund balance solid.
  • We played outstanding defense.  As a result:
  • No right to work bill, no paycheck protection, no abridgement of payroll deduction or any other assault on public or private sector unions.
  • No tuition tax credits.  No pay vouchers.  No charter schools.
  • No anti-defined benefit retirement.
  • No abridgement of teacher tenure. 
  • Unfortunately some troubling voter referenda* that we will have to deal with in time.

MEA-MFT Final Priority Bill Status Report

Bills we supported that passed

HB 122 (Malek) – to fund public employee retirement system
Passed Legislature


Bills we opposed that passed

SJ 11 (Jim Peterson) – resolution to urge board of regents to adopt faculty post-tenure review process
Passed Legislature – Done deal.  The governor cannot veto resolutions.  Fortunately, this one really doesn’t mean much. 

Bills we watched that passed:

SB 329 (Zinke) – to fund k-12 public schools
Passed Legislature. There is no way SB 329 satisfies everyone in the education community, but if we are now free and clear of radical efforts to privatize Montana public schools, destroy the teaching profession, and wreck our union, then let it be. Read news articles about SB 329: 

School-funding | Plan to redirect mountain of cash would hit about one-third of state’s districts, aid others: Oil-and-gas tax reallocation looms

Multimillion-dollar cash flows may be done in oil, gas school districts – sort of 


HB 2 (McNutt) – state budget (appropriations bill)
Passed Legislature. MEA-MFT helped reverse many of the original terrible and unnecessary budget cuts. Read Apr. 28 news article on what’s in the budget now: “What is really in budget bill?” Also read analysis by the Montana Budget & Policy Center.


Dead bills we supported:

HB 13 (Hiner) – Pre-budget negotiated – State Employee Pay Plan
Failed House after many attempts to revive it. For the first time in history, the legislature has rejected a proposed pay plan that state employee unions and the governor bargained as the law directs. 

HB 75 (McClafferty) – MEA-MFT bill – to provide state funding of Head Start
Tabled House Appropriations

HB 136 (Schmidt) – Governor’s school funding bill
Tabled House Education


HB 189 (Dick Barrett) – MEA-MFT bill – to fund TRS & create professional retirement option
Tortured, then murdered in the House

HB 266 (Sands) – MEA-MFT bill – to increase funding of university faculty optional retirement plan
Tabled House State Administration


HB 439 (Hollenbaugh) – to authorize bonding for certain buildings (Historical Society, Missoula COT, etc.) – required  2/3ds vote in each house of the legislature
Failed House. Read news story. HB 439 was THE jobs bill of the session. It deserves to pass. It would have put private sector folks to work — and when the work is done, we would have had hundreds of public sector members working in far better facilities across our state. 


HB 632 (Taylor) – to use expendable portion of the coal tax to pay down unfunded liabilities in TRS, PERS, Sheriffs’, and Game Wardens’ (Correctional Officers’) retirement systems
Passed House – Failed Senate


HB 590 (McClafferty) – MEA-MFT bill – to establish statewide school employee health insurance pool
Tabled House Appropriations


SB 44 (Brown) – to require student enrollment until age 18
Tabled Senate Education


SB 88 (Facey) – MEA-MFT bill – to increase professional stipends – National Board Certified Teachers
Tabled Senate Education


SB 113 (Jent) – MEA-MFT bill – to cap district retirement reserves                                  
Passed Senate – Tabled House State Administration                                          


SB 130 (Wanzenried) – MEA-MFT bill – to qualify certain school classified employees for unemployment compensation
Tabled Senate Business & Labor

Dead bills we helped defeat:

HB 145 (Ken Peterson) – to prohibit public employees from serving in state legislature 
Tabled House State Administration


HB 154 (Knox) – to empower anybody to be superintendent of public instruction 
Failed House


HB 197 (Hoven) – constitutional amendment to empower legislature to modify public employee retirement plans –    

Tabled in House State Administration Committee


HB 242 (Miller) – to make school election day, primary election day
Tabled in House State Administration


HB 397 (Knox) – to provide tuition tax credits for non-public school tuition expenses
Tabled House Appropriations


HB 431 (Regier) – to eliminate election day as a state holiday
Passed House – Failed Senate

HB 452 (Knox) – constitutional amendment to reduce size and compel popular election of the board of regents
Tabled House Education
        Also HB 451
Tabled House Education


HB 453 (Knox) – constitutional amendment to reduce size and compel popular election of the board of public education
Tabled House Education
       Also HB 450
Tabled House Education         


HB 569 (Stahl) – to roll back state employee salaries to October 1, 2005
Tabled House Tax


HB 591 (Blasdel) – to create pay vouchers for private/public choice of special education
Tabled House Education        


HB 597 (Reichner) – to revise public employee retirement systems
Tabled House State Administration


HB 603 (Blasdel) – to establish a parallel universe of private charter schools
Passed House – Tabled Senate Education – See SB 329 (Zinke)


SB 54 (Balyeat) – to establish hybrid retirement plan for new hires only
Passed Legislature – Vetoed


SB 129 (Lewis) – to cap state employee pay and health insurance benefit
Passed Senate – Tabled House Appropriations


SB 282 (Lewis) – to provide tuition tax credits/scholarships for private/sectarian schools
Tabled Senate Finance & Claims

SB 315 (Ripley) – to modify teacher tenure statutes, gutting due process rights
Passed Senate – Failed House Read more. 

SB 328 (Lewis) – to require PERS new hires be in a defined contribution plan
Passed Senate – Tabled House State Administration


SB 386 (Peregoy) – to create charter schools    

Failed Senate Education


HJ 7 (Skees) – interim study to investigate ways to reduce duties of OPI and cut the number of school districts in half                                            
Tabled House Education   


HJ 9 (Knox) – interim study to clarify who’s in charge of Montana public education
Failed House


HJ 30 (Beck) – interim study of privatization of Montana Veterans Home
Tabled House State Administration





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