Montana Legislature reaches halfway point


MISSOULA, Mont. - The Montana House is endorsing and passing on bills at their halfway point. The House is tallying up bills that are making their way through legislation.

A bill that would require the state health department to team up with other organizations to help develop a plan to prevent children from child abuse and neglect was endorsed by the House Monday. The House supported the bill 71-28.

One legislative committee advanced a bill that would make it illegal for doctors to help terminally ill patients kill themselves.

Missoula resident Zach Millier disagrees with the advancement of the bill.

"I think people at the end of their lives should have that option to make that decision," Millier said.

University of Montana student David Detrick said since he's not ill it would be hard to decide.

"It is a very controversial topic, and I don't disagree or agree with it," Detrick said.

A Montana legislative panel voted against restricting the news media's publication of fatal accident pictures on social media until the victim's family is notified.

NBC Montana's policy is to never show a photo or video of a fatal accident that could identify a victim before the family is notified. Under no circumstances do we ever show a body on-air or online.

Another bill that shot down by the House would have allowed guns in school. Fifteen Republicans joined 41 Democrats to reject the bill in a 56-44 vote. If the bill had passed it would have allowed full-time school employees who meet certain shooting standards to carry concealed weapons on school property.

"I don't think guns should be in school," Millier said. "I'm glad that didn't pass."

Detrick disagrees.

"With responsible teachers, responsible gun owners that have gone through rigorous training and concealed carry permits and concealed carry classes -- it might actually do some good," Detrick said.

The Montana House passed a bill that aims to create a charter school system for Montana. The House approved the measure 55-44 and will now continue to the Senate.

The Montana Senate voted to tell Wyoming and federal wildlife officials to stop feeding elk outside of Yellowstone National Park. The vote passed 50-0 over concerns that it could increase the transmission of diseases that can spread into Montana.

A bill that would require owners to pay for the care of animals seized during cruelty investigations was shot down.

"First of all it was their responsibility to take care of that animal and then they didn't," Detrick said. "I think they should be held responsible."

Millier disagrees.

"People that are already impoverished are already having a hard time making ends meet," Millier said. I don't think that's a reasonable expectation for them."

The 65th Montana Legislative Session will end in April, but until then we'll be following the Legislature in Helena closely to see what bills will pass.