Montana Public Radio

Bill Mercer

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Declaration document
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A policy to increase local law enforcement's role in federal immigration investigations in Montana is nearing Gov. Greg Gianforte’s desk. The state's Republican-led Legislature has passed the bill in both chambers and now it returns to the House after being amended in the Senate.

This week, Montana lawmakers gaveled into the second half of the legislative session. Republicans are advancing major conservative priorities, including a tax cut package. It harkens back to the last time the GOP controlled both the Legislature and governor’s office.

“During the session people will put out buttons for their bills sometimes," says retired 43-year government reporter Chuck Johnson as he rummages through drawers and drawers of political buttons in his Helena home.

“This was a button that came out memorializing the passage of deregulation in a bad way.”

The Montana House Monday offered support to a bill that would limit government civil liability for COVID-19-related issues. Lawmakers also voted down two bills that would’ve impacted public unions.

Rep. Bill Mercer (R) - HD46
Montana Legislature

Montana lawmakers have advanced a second bill aimed at protecting entities from civil liability related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawmakers gave initial approval to the policy, which would protect government organizations, including public school systems and private health care providers from coronavirus-related lawsuits unless they exhibit gross negligence in preventing the spread of the virus.

Bill Draws Widespread Opposition From Labor Unions

Jan 25, 2021

A Montana lawmaker introduced a bill Friday that would require public employees to opt in to paying dues to labor unions every year. Union leaders are opposing the proposal.

The bill brought by Republican Rep. Bill Mercer of Billings follows a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2018 in which the justices ruled that public employees don’t have to pay dues to unions that collectively bargain on worker’s behalf.

'Capitol Talk' is MTPR's weekly legislative analysis program.
Montana Public Radio

Tonight on Capitol Talk: Bills that are still alive, and bills that are gone at the midway point of the session. The effectiveness - and downside - of arguing "religious freedom" to get a bill passed. And the congressional delegation's tepid reaction to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen's testimony.

Montana lawmakers are proposing a bipartisan bill that would end the statute of limitations for prosecuting sex crimes committed against children. It would also extend the window for filing civil lawsuits against the perpetrator or others.