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Volume 26, Issue 8
Published February 21, 2021

I’m fine. You’re fine. We’re all fine. Everything’s fine . . .

Thoughts Provided by Shantil Siaperas, MACo Communications Director & Unofficial (Yet Still Official) Editor of MACo’s Legislative Update

(If you’re not interested in the meandering thoughts of a rambling lobbyist
and just want to check out the next issue of MACo’s Legislative update, I sympathize. Click the button below for instant access to our latest issue.)

Access Latest Legislative Update Here

Where and when are we in the time and space of Legislative Land? Well, we are still in Helena. Some of us are in home-offices on Zoom and/or streaming hearings. Some of us are at the Capitol lurking in dark corners while streaming hearings so we know what the heck is going on behind the closed doors that we can’t go through unless testifying. And all of us are almost halfway through the session.

Below is a recap of how we got here and where we’re headed.

How We Got Here
  • January 4: 67th Legislative Session Convenes (Day 1)
  • January 19: Last day to request General Bills & Resolutions (Day 12)
  • January 26: Last day to request Revenue Bills (Day 17)
  • February 17: Last day for Committees to request General Bills & Resolutions (Day 36)
  • February 20: Last day to introduce General Bills, ex. Committee Bills (Day 39)
Where We’re Headed
  • March 3: Transmittal of General Bills to other Chamber & Last day to request Appropriation Bills (Day 45 – Halfway Point)
  • March 4-5: Transmittal Break (Pop the Champagne)

Transmittal is one week and three days away . . . So what happens this week?

Enter stage left: A long parade of unrelenting and merciless bills—there are over 200 hearings scheduled so far, and Thursday and Friday aren’t even stacked and packed yet. Example: The House Judiciary Committee alone has 20 bills scheduled for tomorrow (Monday) morning—they convene at 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Enter stage right: Rare creatures that only come out on the prowl for a few months every other year, morphed from previously well-known lobbyists and association advocates. If you look closely enough, you’ll see the faint glow of statutes under their skin.

We eat, sleep, and breath legislation. All we talk about are bills, are we think about are bills, all we dream about are bills and those bills are talking to other bills about bill hearings and bill amendments in a Capitol building made of bills.

We’ve made it to the equivalent of a college freshman’s semester one finals, and there is no calling the parents to come save us from our questionable life decisions. We’re replacing sleep with bill reading, mainlining caffeine, tracking a never-ending list of executive action, watching the schedule with paranoid determination for that one or two (or ten) big, unexpected hearing(s) that magically pop up, and we’re drowning our feelings (any possible feelings at all) with copious amounts of wine/whiskey and denial.

We are wild-eye-focused on the next one point five (spelled out for emphasis) crazy weeks, the next nine legislative days, March 3rd, LD 45 . . . Eye on the prize folks: Transmittal.

To help me, you, and anyone else lucky enough to read this, all stay focused, I’ve put together a short list of things to watch out for over the next one point five weeks.

Tips from a Wild-eyed, Real-live, Caffeine-blooded, Sleep-deprived Lobbyist

1.  Open our Legislative Update. Look at the schedule, click the links in the update, and read the bills—there are some doozies.

2.  Keep one wild-eye on the schedule as it evolves: Click here, enter the date range, click the “find” button. Then refresh consistently throughout each day until you wear out the refresh button. Then buy a new keyboard and continue refreshing.

3.  Stalk committees that are holding bills-of-interest for executive action—it’ll be fast; don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

4.  Pay attention to the end of each floor session for . . .

      • Important announcements about committee meetings being held upon adjournment; and
      • Rereferral motions sending bills to another committee for a second hearing—this mainly happens to anything with a fiscal note over a certain amount that needs to go to the House Appropriations Committee or the Senate Finance & Claims committee. As we get closer to LD 45, these rereferred bill hearings will go from being scheduled the next day to “upon adjournment of the floor session.”

5. Never run out of caffeine. Ever. Trust me. You can live without food. You can live without water. But you cannot live without caffeine. (Kidding. Partially. You absolutely cannot live without water. But also, don’t stop drinking caffeine.)

Bonus Tip: Breathe. Do you know Hope? She tells me all the time that the current chaos is normal, and this is how the process is supposed to work . . .

So, I’m fine. You’re fine. We’re all fine. Everything’s fine . . . Breathe.

And Remember . . .

If you find yourself on uneven footing during the legislative session at any time, no worries. We’re here to help keep you apprised of what’s happening on the hill. Every week until Sine Die during these trying and perplexing times, we’ll be releasing a new issue of the MACo Legislative Update (linked below and above).

Each issue always has an up-to-date session calendar, information about participating virtually, and an easy-to-print bill hearings schedule for the upcoming week. Pro Tip: Our website’s hearing schedule will be updated daily as the week progresses and new hearings are added, so be sure to check that out. It also has links to testify remotely and/or submit written public comment.

Don’t forget to check out the bills section, where you’ll be able to follow the status of MACo’s legislation, as well as track the growing list of bills in which we are monitoring and/or actively participating.

Click the button below to check out the new issue.

For other pertinent information regarding the legislative session, visit the policy section of our website.

See you either virtually via the internet highway or in the halls!

PS: 54 legislative days remaining

(The Legislative Update is linked below.)
Questions? We Got you!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Eric Bryson, MACo Executive Director:  406-461-2084, ebryson@mtcounties.org

Jason Rittal, MACo Deputy Director:  406- 698-3255, jrittal@mtcounties.org

Shantil Siaperas, MACo Communications Director:  406-925-1134, shantil@mtcounties.org