The Montana House Appropriations Committee is nearly done ironing out amendments to House Bill 2, or the main budget bill. Rep. Marilyn Ryan, D-Missoula, proposed one of those amendments Friday. That amendment to the Department of Health and Human Services budget would have increased wages for those who work directly with seniors and people with developmental disabilities.
Retirement facility employees in Montana could hypothetically record videos and photos of patients and post them to social media sites under current state law. House Bill 244 would change that, making it a felony to record seniors, or people with developmental disabilities, in uncompromising situations in any setting.
Democratic Governor Steve Bullock says the No. 1 concern he has with the Legislature’s proposed budget is the lack of funding for essential services. “That’s everything from senior and long-term care, to how they’re funding higher education, to what had been done with child protective services,” he said.
When schools overestimate the number of students in their district, Montana property taxpayers end up eating that cost. House Bill 390, carried by Rep. Donald Jones, R-Billings, would return the excess money collected back to taxpayers the following year.
Montana Health and Human Services Director Sheila Hogan cautioned lawmakers Wednesday about what decreasing funding to her department might mean for Montanans.
“The budget will dramatically impair the services we provide to seniors, and those with disabilities in Montana, and compromise our ability to serve Montana’s most vulnerable community members,” she told members of the House Appropriations Committee during a hearing on House Bill 2, the main budget bill.
Halfway through the 65th Montana Legislature, the House Budget Committee has started work on the biennial state budget, the only duty that lawmakers are constitutionally required to finish before the session comes to an end.