Election security and voting machines, as well as hazardous material incident response capabilities, will be key topics of discussion when the State Administration and Veterans’ Affairs Interim Committee meets in Helena May 16. Several other topics are also on the agenda.
Water/sewer district elections top the agenda because recent legislation revising who is eligible to vote in those elections has created a concern about how to determine the number of eligible voters for petitions and elections.
The state employee broadband pay plan will be next up due to ongoing concern about pay disparities. The committee will receive a background report on the history of the state employee pay plan, compensation policy principles, and recent legislative changes affecting how jobs are classified, how occupational wage ranges are set, and the relevance of the pay bands.
Following the pay plan presentations and discussion, Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen will provide an informational briefing about an education program for children in military families to help ensure some continuity when their families relocate due to military assignment changes.
Election security will be a key topic during the afternoon session. Security of voter registration data bases and electronic voting systems has been an emerging issue nationally. Several committee members recently attended an elections security conference in Wyoming sponsored by the National Conference for State Legislatures and will report about the conference. Additionally, the Secretary of State’s elections director, Dana Corson, will address two topics: voting by military and overseas electors and what voter information is available to the public. The committee has also requested a staff assessment of whether Montana’s election laws need to be revised to accommodate new voting system technologies, especially for disabled electors.
After examining these elections issues, the committee will switch gears and examine disaster and emergency services. In the wake of a 2015 legislative audit that found deficiencies in plans and response capabilities when there is a derailment involving hazardous material, the committee will receive briefings on regional HAZMAT teams and the role of state and local entities in planning and responding to these disasters in more rural areas.
Following the presentations and public comment on these topics, committee members will consider whether to develop committee legislation to address any identified issues.
The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. in Room 137 of the Capitol. The agenda and available meeting materials have been posted to the committee’s meeting materials web page. Additional material will be posted as it becomes available, so check back often.
Public comment is welcomed as scheduled on the agenda. The meeting will be live streamed via the internet from the Legislative Branch homepage and may also be televised.
For more information, visit the committee's web site or contact Sheri Scurr, committee staff, at email@example.com or (406) 444-3596.