SAVA Elects Officers, Sketches Out Interim Plans
At its first meeting of the interim on July 20, the State Administration and Veterans’ Affairs Interim Committee elected Sen. Sue Malek (D-Missoula) as presiding officer and Sen. Doug Kary (R-Billings) as vice presiding officer. The committee also adopted a preliminary list of meeting dates and selected topics to examine this interim.
The committee does not have an assigned study, so it makes its own plans regarding which topics to tackle during the interim.
The committee agreed that the top two issues it will examine this interim are:
- The maintenance or replacement of aging voting systems. Counties purchased these systems more than a decade ago with help from federal funding through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). County election administrators told the committee that the most critical need now is to replace the old AutoMark systems, which disabled voters use to help mark their ballots. County optical scan vote tabulation systems are also aging and will likely need to also be replaced very soon.
- The actuarial funding status of the public employee retirement systems. The Public Employees’ Retirement Board, which oversees nine of 11 statewide public employee retirement systems, recently adjusted the actuarial assumptions used to evaluate whether the systems are soundly funded. The most significant change was reducing the investment rate of return assumption from 7.75 percent to 7.65 percent. The net impact of the assumption changes lowered funded ratios and increased the time required to amortize system liabilities in nearly all of the systems.
The committee identified the following topics as second-tier priorities for study this interim:
- Campaign contribution limits
- Veterans’ affairs, specifically suicide-prevention updates and the benefit claims process
- Special district election laws with respect to inconsistencies in voter eligibility criteria and other aspects of special district election administration
- A review of statutes governing when county and municipal/city commission primary elections may be canceled and whether a commission must be elected on a partisan or nonpartisan basis
- Monitoring implementation of state pay plan changes recently adopted by the legislature
The committee will review and may revise this list at its September 14 meeting.
Committee members also agreed not to allow proxy votes and to receive statutorily-required reports from agencies by mail rather than as briefings during committee meetings, unless a committee member has a specific question or request.
The committee’s next meeting is on September 14. The meeting will be live streamed at http://leg.mt.gov and will be broadcast on Television Montana (TVMT). Check your local channel listings to find TVMT in your area. For more information about the meeting, including a full agenda, visit the committee’s website or contact Sheri Scurr, committee staff.
Committee Website: www.leg.mt.gov/sava
Committee Staff: Sheri Scurr, firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 444-3596