Montana Public Radio

Montana Department of Commerce

As film and TV-show production become more common in Montana, lawmakers are already seeking to expand a new tax incentive and encourage the industry to plant firmer roots in the state.

Bill Aims to Capture Bed Tax from Online Booking Services

Mar 9, 2021
Senator Jason Ellsworth
Montana Legislative Services

Montana's had a 4% sales tax on hotel rooms and rental cars since the late '80s but the way people rent rooms and cars has changed a lot since then. A bill moving through the 2021 Montana Legislature aims to bring that tax into the online era.

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced Monday his nomination for the director of the Montana Department of Commerce. Gianforte pledged on the campaign trail to replace all state agency leaders.

Megan Myscofski

It’s been a rough year for Montana’s small businesses and more help could be on the way, packaged in Congress’ latest COVID-19 relief bill that's headed to President Donald Trump's desk. But that relief will look different in this round of aid and some programs that helped businesses stay afloat might not continue into the new year.

The Montana Department of Commerce recently awarded three grants totaling $2.4 million to support affordable housing projects in Bozeman and Havre. It’s part of a federal program that’s funded more than $6 million worth of projects in Montana this year.

The grants will support the rehabilitation and preservation of 41 affordable apartment units in Bozeman and 92 in Havre. The housing units are available to residents making 30 percent or less of the area median income (i.e. less than $20,000 a year).

Montana Governor elect Greg Gianforte on Monday announced a joint transition advisory team to identify and review candidates to serve as the next directors for the state Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor and Industry.

The 10 person advisory team includes representatives from the construction, roofing and insurance industries, higher education and present and former leaders of trade associations. A Billings hotel and restaurant owner is also on Gianforte’s COVID-19 transition advisory team.

More than 8,200 small Montana businesses have received state grants to help get through the coronavirus pandemic, according to numbers released by the Department of Commerce Aug. 21.

Joe Petersen, the owner of Three Forks Saddlery, says sales were up this summer as people looked to horseback riding as a way to get out of their homes. But he’s been worried about what could happen this winter.

The business typically takes in tens of thousands of dollars in December at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

Montanas are being asked to report Census data online or by phone even without receiving a specialized ID code to begin the process.
U.S. Census Bureau

On Tuesday, the Montana Department of Commerce announced the state is spending roughly $500,000 of federal coronavirus relief money to boost 2020 Census outreach.

Montanans self-response rate is just over 56%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s behind the national average. State officials said Montanan’s Census response is complicated in part by the rural nature of the state

Apartment complex

Montana set aside $50 million in federal coronavirus relief funding to help people make their rent or mortgage payments during the economic upheaval caused by coronavirus. But through the end of July the program has paid out just over $1.2 million, about 2.4% of the available funds, state figures show.

It’s the start of the month, which means housing payments are due for many Montanans. Amid the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic, there doesn’t yet appear to be large spikes in evictions and foreclosures. But state officials are still having trouble distributing federal housing relief dollars to the people who need them.