HELENA – This week is shaping up to be a doozy at the Montana Legislature, with bills to eliminate the state’s death penalty, jack up the daytime speed limit, restrict cellphone use by drivers statewide and make it easier to carry a concealed weapon.
Here is a rundown of some of the legislative action set for the week in the Capitol, 6th Street East and Montana Avenue in Helena.
•8 a.m.: Drivers texting and talking on cellphones. Sponsored by Rep. Virginia Court, D-Billings, House Bill 297 would ban texting and cellphone use by drivers statewide. The hearing will be held before the House Judiciary Committee in Room 137 of the Capitol in Helena.
•3 p.m.: Mental health screenings for students. House Bill 383, sponsored by Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell, D-Helena, would set up a pilot program for mental and behavioral health screenings of public school students. The bill will be heard in Room 152 before the House Human Services Committee.
•8 a.m.: A bill to create the misdemeanor offense of cyberbullying of minors will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee in Room 137 of the Capitol, sponsored by Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula.
• 8 a.m.: No consent to death. House Bill 328, also before the Judiciary Committee in the same room, would prevent an individual from using consent as a defense against a homicide charge for taking part in a physician-assisted suicide. Rep. Brad Tschida, R-Missoula, is the sponsor.
•3 p.m.: Increase daytime speed limit. Senate Bill 228, sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, would raise the Montana speed limit to 85 mph on non-urban interstate highways and 80 mph on many other roadways. The hearing takes place in Room 405 before the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee.
•8 a.m.: Guns are on the agenda for House Judiciary. House Bill 320, sponsored by Rep. Carl Glimm, R-Kila, would soften state law to make expulsion from school discretionary rather than mandatory for bringing firearms onto school grounds. House Bills 298 and 371 would revise concealed weapons laws. House Bill 298, sponsored by Rep. Bill Harris, R-Winnett, would allow anyone eligible to possess a handgun under state or federal law to carry a concealed weapon in Montana. House Bill 371, sponsored by Rep. Kerry White, R-Bozeman, would allow a person carry a concealed weapon into a restaurant if the business does not chiefly sell alcohol. The three hearings will be held in Room 137 of the Capitol beginning at 8 a.m.
•8 a.m.: Revise self-defense laws. House Bill 388, sponsored by Rep. Randy Pinocci, R-Sun River, would require law officers to collect all evidence “that might support the apparent or alleged justifiable use of force” used in an altercation. If all evidence is not collected by law enforcement, the judge must dismiss all charges with prejudice and pay the defendant’s attorney fees, the bill says. The hearing is set for Room 137 in the Capitol before the House Judiciary Committee.
•8 a.m.: End Montana’s death penalty. House Bill 370, sponsored by Rep. David Moore, R-Missoula, would abolish the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole. The hearing before House Judiciary is in Room 137 in the Capitol.