Legislature’s Economic Affairs Committee Sets Study of Montana State Fund as Its Top Priority
The Economic Affairs Interim Committee of the Legislature voted at its Sept. 14 meeting to devote a major portion of the next 12 months to studying the future of Montana State Fund, Montana’s guaranteed provider of workers’ compensation insurance and one of three ways to obtain workers’ compensation insurance in Montana.
In adopting its work plan the committee chose to receive basic information about its other assigned studies: the SJR 20 study of unemployment in high poverty areas of Montana and the SJR 32 study of emergency medicine, particularly related to veterans. Both studies will include presentations, with the committee deciding later whether additional time is needed.
For the SJR 27 Montana State Fund study, the committee will itself act as a subcommittee, inviting various stakeholders to the table for presentations and discussions related to the future of the statutorily designated workers’ compensation provider. The first subcommittee meeting will start at 8 a.m. on Nov. 8 in Room 137 of the State Capitol. The full committee will meet earlier on Nov. 7.
Other EAIC Sept. 14 actions included votes:
- to assign Sen. Tom Facey as a representative on the HJR 20 subcommittee study of health care pricing transparency, which is assigned to the Children, Families, Health, and Human Services Interim Committee.
- to designate Sen. Facey as the replacement for Sen. Lea Whitford on the HB 661 study of state laboratories, including the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory; and
- to approve its work plan with meetings in November this year and February, April, June, and September in 2018. The number of SJR 27 subcommittee meetings will depend on workload and budget.
The committee also heard from the following agencies, some of the nine state entities monitored by the committee:
- the Montana State Fund. The presentation featured a review of MSF’s operational budget and its premiums, written policies, claim benefit payments, and investment income.
- the Department of Labor and Industry. The presentation focused on Montana’s labor market and low unemployment rate, budget cuts affecting the Montana Human Rights Commission, the Office of Community Service, and the Office of Administrative Hearings, plus closures and planned closures of seven Job Service Offices, primarily because of federal budget cuts.
- the Department of Livestock. The overview included descriptions of a legislatively directed departmental reorganization, cutbacks in federal funds impacting the work of the Livestock Loss Board, and cases of brucellosis and other diseases. The EAIC also learned that meat processors had met with the department and Board of Livestock members to improve interactions between state meat inspectors and meat processors. A Big Timber meat processor told the committee that he and other processors were pleased with the approach.
- the State Auditor’s Office. Auditor Matt Rosendale reviewed his office’s activities and plans, including recognizing changes in technology that influence how people obtain insurance, monitoring of long-term care insurance providers, and providing education to senior investors potentially at risk from predatory practices.
For information about the Economic Affairs Interim Committee, visit the committee website or contact Pat Murdo, committee staff.
Committee Website: leg.mt.gov/eaic
Committee Staff: firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-444-3594