Montana Lawmakers Choose 16 Interim Studies

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Lawmakers have tapped 16 topics — out of a possible 18 — to study in advance of the next legislative session.

The studies deal with a range of subjects from historic preservation to the state’s student loan system, and may result in legislation for the 2011 session. On top of the 16 chosen Wednesday, lawmakers also approved and set aside money for four studies during the session.

All told, the 16 interim studies will cost the state about $700,000 in travel, postage, copy costs and other expenses associated with hosting legislative interim committee.

The two study resolutions that failed to make the cut called for examining family self-sufficiency and establishing a Montana scholarship fund.

A bipartisan committee of lawmakers chose the studies to pursue. Lawmakers on interim committees may still choose to study other topics if there is enough time and funding.

Lawmakers plan to study biomass, recreation funding, fire suppression, historic preservation, state employees’ bonus pay, community services for the developmentally disabled, how community colleges are established, the student loan system, cooperation between the state agriculture labs, the cost of auto insurance, recycling and solid waste recovery, retention of DNA evidence, work comp rates, health care, income tax filing by married taxpayers, DUI laws, state energy policy, oil and natural gas taxes, property tax reappraisal, and the public retirement system.

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