Two prominent members of the Montana Legislature called into the KGVO Talk Back Show on Thursday to answer questions from listeners about various items of interest regarding Montana government.

State Senator Ryan Osmundson from District 29 which contains his hometown of Buffalo, Montana was asked about the coming sharp rise in property taxes due to the ongoing real estate boom in the state.

“We've been having this discussion for the last couple sessions that we are going to have a property tax revolt here pretty soon the way this is going,” said Osmundson. “It's a challenge because you're also bringing in not only state revenue, but the challenges you also deal with on a county level because your property taxes are 70% county and the school district, so if and when we're going to change anything, we have to be very cognizant that it's going to affect the counties and it's going to affect the schools.”

Regarding the changes in the legislature due to COVID 19, Osmundson said some of the solutions may lead to permanent changes in future sessions.

“(The pandemic) may have given us the possibility I think in the future, at least my hope is that somebody living in Culbertson or Wolf Point that wants to participate and you have roads and weather like we do this week that maybe they can't get to the legislature,” he said. “Well, now we have an option for them to ZOOM in and have their voice heard on a piece of legislation, so I think going forward, we're going to use some of this technology regardless.”

House Majority Leader Sue Vinton also answered questions from listeners. She was asked about why former Governor Steve Bullock didn’t ask for a special session of the legislature before taking action on the pandemic.

“Governor Bullock at the time made his mandate without any input from the legislature,” said Vinton. “I know that legislative leadership contacted the governor and asked to have a seat at the table to have a voice for our constituents in those mandates, and they were ignored.”

Vinton said a special session might not even have been necessary, but former Governor Bullock did not even attempt to involve the legislature.

“A special session has a downside in that it's very costly,” she said. “Ultimately it's the taxpayers who pay for that, but the legislature could have been polled, and we could easily have weighed in as representatives of our districts, but that didn't happen. To me it felt as though Governor Bullock was obstructing any type of input from leaders across the state.”

KGVO will feature programs throughout the ongoing legislative session with representatives to answer questions from the public.


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