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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Key Gianforte Tax Cut Policy Fails In The House

Rep. Barry Usher, R-Billings, speaks on a bill to criminalize bullying in schools at the request of a group of school resource officers. Jan. 21, 2019.
Shaylee Ragar
UM Legislative News Service

A key policy in Gov. Greg Gianforte’s plan for tax cuts in Montana narrowly failed in the House on Thursday.

Senate Bill 184, also known as the Montana Entrepreneur Magnet Act, would have exempted people from paying capital gains taxes on stock sales tied to new businesses that had an employee base of at least 30% local residents.

The bill failed on a 49-51 vote but lawmakers plan on reconsidering the bill at a later date.

Rep. Barry Usher, R-Billings, opposed the policy, saying it could have attracted large marijuana companies to Montana after the state’s recreational cannabis program gets off the ground.

“Any company coming from out of state, if they have savvy lawyers, if they have savvy accountants — especially these marijauna companies — they know how to create entities, and boards and everything else to be able to qualify for a program like this," he said.

Usher was among 24 Republicans, including many of the House’s most conservative lawmakers, who opposed the bill. Six Democrats supported the proposal. 

Elliston Republican Becky Beard, who carried the bill in the House, said it would have spurred job and wage growth in Montana.

The policy is key to Gianforte’s "Montana Comeback Plan," which also includes personal income and business equipment tax cuts.

Gianforte asked for public comment on another goal for his administration this week: The governor is looking for recommendations for his task force aimed at reducing state regulations.

Kevin is a UM Journalism graduate student and reporter for MTPR.
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