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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Capitol Connections: Local Option Tax and Sentencing Reform

Jackie Yamanaka
Credit Jackie Yamanaka

This week, the topics of discussion from the Montana Legislature: a local option tax proposal and sentencing reform in the state’s criminal justice system.

Senator Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman, requested a bill draft to allow local voters to decide if they want to impose a tax on narrowly defined luxury items. This tax, to be no more than 4%, is designed to target purchases made primarily by tourists such as prepared meals and alcohol at restaurants and bars.  The bill draft includes language that this luxury tax will automatically terminate after a term established by local voters.  The proceeds from this local option tax are to provide homeowners with some property tax relief and pay for local, critical public works projects.  Phillips is looking for a Republican to sponsor or co-sponsor this proposal. It hasn't yet been formally introduced in the 2017 legislative session.

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Senator Cynthia Wolken, D-Missoula, chaired the Commission on Sentencing following the 2015 Montana Legislature and is sponsoring most of the bills in the 2017 Session. The commission was created to study the state's existing sentencing policies and practices and look for ways to safely reduce incarceration in the state's prisons. Other objectives were to look for ways to reduce recidivism and costs of incarceration.

The theme music for Capitol Connections is courtesy of the Alex Nauman Trio. Capitol Connections is a production of YPR news.

Copyright 2017 Yellowstone Public Radio

Jackie Yamanaka
Jackie Yamanaka has been news director at YPR since 1986. From her home base in Billings, Jackie covers a wide range of issues across Montana and Wyoming. During the Montana Legislative session, she re-locates to the state Capitol in Helena where she has another office.
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