Sex Offender Registry, Speed Limits Among Laws Updated Oct. 1

In addition to higher speed limits and more stringent sex-offender rules, 165 new laws will take effect Thursday in Montana

By ALISON NOON, Associated Press

HELENA — Higher speed limits and new sex-offender registration requirements are among the 165 new laws that will take effect Thursday in Montana.

Sexual and violent offenders will be required to provide every email address and social media screen name for the state registry. Montana will spend an estimated $13,000 to include that information in electronic records.

The law also seeks to increase the number of psychosexual evaluations among offenders to determine their likelihood of recidivism.

Another law that already took effect this year prohibits some high-risk sex offenders from living or working within 300 feet of a facility that primarily serves children.

An additional 28 laws will be activated after October, including a January pay increase for state employees.

Oct. 1 is the effective date of many new laws because it is the start of the federal budget year. Other measures taking effect Thursday:

SPEED LIMITS

They will increase from 75 to 80 mph on all interstates in Montana, with few exceptions pending a safety investigation. The new law will not affect state highway speed limits but will increase speeding fines on all highways.

INSURANCE

Drivers will now be allowed to use electronic proof of car insurance, updating an outdated requirement that a hard copy be kept in cars at all times.

MINOR-IN-POSSESSION EXCEPTIONS

A “Good Samaritan” law will shield people from minor-in-possession tickets if they are seeking medical treatment for themselves or others.

SCHOOL CHOICE

A pilot program will provide income-tax credits for donations of up to $150 to scholarships for private K-12 education or “innovative educational programs” at public schools. The Republican-sponsored measure aims to make private education more widely attainable and became law without Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s signature.

SEXUAL ASSAULT UNIT

A unit will be created within the attorney general’s office to train county attorneys and local law enforcement officials on how to prosecute sexual assault crimes.

VACCINATIONS

Chicken pox vaccinations will be required for all public school students. The law also requires whooping cough vaccinations for all students, removing a previous exception for children over age 6.

VETERAN HIRING

Private employers will be authorized to give hiring preference to veterans.

ELECTIONS

Additional disclosure requirements for corporations that spend money to influence elections will be in place ahead of 2016 ballots. Additionally, an update that conforms to a 2013 Montana Supreme Court decision allows political parties to endorse and spend money supporting or opposing judicial candidates.

CLEMENCY

A new law allows the governor to lessen prisoners’ sentences even if the state parole board recommends against it. Barry Beach’s attorney plans to request the leniency.

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