One more hurdle
SB241 makes it past the Montana House of Representatives
Senate Bill 241 is now heading to the Gov. Steve Bullock's desk after making it past the third reading on the House floor with a vote of 71-29 on April 9 and past the second reading at the Montana House of Representatives by a vote of 75-24 on April 8.
SB 241 is a legislative effort which would allow communities to vote on raising the resort tax by 1-percent for infrastructure projects. The effort is supported by all 10 resort area tax districts in Montana but was spearheaded by West Yellowstone and Big Sky Resort Area resort tax. Big Sky and West Yellowstone are looking at infrastructure needs venturing into the $50 million range. Red Lodge is looking at nearly $100 million in infrastructure requirements. Strain is placed on infrastructure in resort areas by the staggering number of tourists visiting.
Rep. Ray Shaw (R) from Madison County, Rep. Kerry White (R) from Gallatin County and Rep. David Fern (D) from Whitefish all spoke in favor of the bill and asked for a do pass prior to the vote.
Reading of the bill on the House floor was made possible by unanimous passage of the bill by the House Taxation Committee with an 18-0 vote.
Senators spoke for and against the bill in the senate, but the House interaction did not speak to debate. Representatives Shaw and Fern answered one question, but there was no heated debate or contention.
Discussion at the Resort Tax board meeting on April 8 before the vote was hopeful.
“We looked at it and we said, ‘Well, it’ll be great if we get 70 votes,” Board Director Mike Scholz said. “And we got 75.”
The bill is drafted to fund individual infrastructure projects which are initially approved by voters. Completion of the approved project would mean a sunset – or end– of the 1-percent resort tax increase until another ballot measure for a specified infrastructure need is voter approved.