On Friday, Missoula Chamber of Commerce Director of Governmental Affairs Clint Burson and Membership Director Mark Losh made their monthly visit on the KGVO Talk Back Program.

Burson said keeping track of the legislative session is much like getting a drink from a fire hose, with over 2,000 bills being proposed every biennium.

“To start off with, the legislative session is 90 days long, that's  a legislative requirement that it can't be longer than 90 days,” began Burson. “You realize of those 2,000 bills, almost all of them have to be talked about in the first 45 days, because at 45 days, they have to be transmitted to the other house so that they can talk about them. The only exceptions to that are budget bills, and they get an extra 15 days. So you're talking 2,000 bills in 45 to 60 days. That's a ridiculous amount.”

Obviously, Burson said his main interest was on bills of interest to Missoula businesses.

“In terms of what the chamber looks for, we're looking at bills that are going to have a direct impact on Missoula businesses, which limits it some, but not a lot,” he said. “Those are the ones that we look at and then ask ‘do we need to monitor these bills?’ and ‘are these really the ones that are taking on the biggest changes or the ones that we get interested in,?  We'll discuss them with our government affairs committee and then our board of directors will decide which bills we may end up voting on.”

Burson then narrowed the focus of the bills they were following.

“This year I was closely monitoring about 50 bills out of that 2,000,” he said. “We ended up taking positions on 13 of them. 10 of the 13 that we took a position on passed and  three did not, and we had one additional bill that we were taking a position on after it had passed, but it ended up being vetoed by the Governor.”

Burson said the difference in this session was that for the first time in 16 years, the Republican dominated Legislature had a fellow Republican in the Governor’s office, Greg Gianforte.

“With two teams, they're both working towards the same goal,” he said. “So it's a matter of making sure that the Republicans in the legislative side are matching up with the end goals that the governor has. I think that's where they there was a lot more room for them to work together. Whereas in the past, you had competing viewpoints in the legislature and the governor's office and so Governor (Steve Bullock)  didn't feel like getting involved necessarily would benefit his position.”

Losh and a special guest from the Chamber of Commerce appear on Talk Back once a month.


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