By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA - Montana employers could get tax credits for hiring Native Americans if House Bill 655 makes it through the Legislature.

Rep. George Kipp III, D-Heart Butte, said this is a Montana solution to decreasing the state’s unemployment rate.

“Employment preferences for Native Americans is something that Montana should look at, grasp, start nurturing,” Kipp said. “Addressing the high economic deficiencies on reservations, and giving them a hand up as far as employment goes.”

To qualify for the credit, the employee would have to be a tribal member and must have worked for the business for a full year, among other things.

To advance, the bill must be passed out of committee and pass two votes in the full House of Representatives by Friday. That’s when bills that have to do with things like revenue need to be transferred into the next step of the legislative process.

The House Taxation Committee will hear the bill Wednesday morning.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.