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The latest Montana politics, elections and Legislature news.

Gianforte Signs Broadband, Business Tax Bills

Gov. Gianforte signs SB 297 with (seated left to right) Sen. Jason Ellsworth, Jessica Foster, Rep. Sharon Greef, and Mark Grotbo, Dominic Farrenkopf, Victoria Clark, and Jason Pond, May 11, 2021.
Gov. Gianforte's office
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Gov. Gianforte signs SB 297 with (seated left to right) Sen. Jason Ellsworth, Jessica Foster, Rep. Sharon Greef, and Mark Grotbo, Dominic Farrenkopf, Victoria Clark, and Jason Pond, May 11, 2021.

Funding for projects to expand high-speed Internet across Montana is moving forward under a bill signed by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte.

The policy creates a grant program under the state Department of Commerce to fund broadband projects around Montana. It’ll use $275 million of the money Montana received from federal government stimulus. 

In an emailed statement, Gianforte said it’s a “historic investment to close the digital divide.” According to the Federal Communications Commission, about one in three Montanans don’t have access to broadband, which is three times the national average. 

The broadband buildout funding received bipartisan support, but Democrats opposed another bill on Gianforte’s desk that gives businesses tax cuts for laying cable for high-speed connections. 

In addition to the broadband bill, Montana businesses old and new will see a change in how they pay corporate taxes under two new laws signed by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte. 

One of the new laws will exempt qualifying businesses from paying capital gains tax on the sale of employee-owned stock if they move to Montana and hire locals. Another will simplify the corporate income tax system to tax out-of-state digital retailers and reduce the tax burden on in-state businesses. 

In an emailed statement, Gianforte said that “by attracting entrepreneurs to our state and keeping existing ones in Montana, they’ll thrive, grow, and create greater opportunities for Montanans.”

Democrats voted against the tax proposals, saying they benefit wealthy Montanans instead of those who need financial help the most.

The following bills, signed by Gianforte, were transmitted to the Secretary of State Tuesday afternoon:

SB 87
Sen. Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip)
Revise coal-fired power/water-right owner legal responsibilities

SB 114
Sen. Jason Ellsworth (R-Hamilton)
Revise the homestead exemption

SB 134
Sen. Jason Small (R-Busby)
Revise board of investment loans for coal-fired generation remediation

SB 147
Sen. Mary McNally (D-Billings)
Establish commercial property assessed capital enhancements program

SB 172
Sen. Dave Howard (R-Park City)
Provide for the religion is essential act

SB 212
Sen. Ryan Osmundson (R-Buffalo)
Revise laws related to property tax bills

SB 254
Sen. Mary McNally (D-Billings)
Revising daylight savings time

SB 272
Sen. Gordon Vance (R-Belgrade)
Generally revise Montana Information Technology Act

SB 300
Sen. Carl Glimm (R-Kila)
Generally revise laws related to driver education

SB 320
Sen. Ellie Boldman (D-Missoula)
Generally revise business law pertaining to alcohol delivery

SB 336
Sen. Chris Friedel (R-Billings)
Generally revise driver license laws

SB 354
Sen. Steve Hinebauch (R-Wibaux)
Revise laws related to land servitudes and easements

SB 374
Sen. Cary Smith (R-Billings)
Revise laws related to dispensing of drugs by medical practitioners

SB 398
Sen. Jason Ellsworth (R-Hamilton)
Generally revise vaping laws

SB 402
Sen. Cary Smith (R-Billings)
Generally revise laws related to the judiciary

SB 403
Sen. Bob Keenan (R-Big Fork)
Revise county water and/or sewer district rate notification laws

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