January 1 Marks Arrival of Numerous New Laws in Montana
A brand new year means there are some new laws to follow. Since we are so close to the Montana border, it makes sense to take a look at new laws that started as we rolled into 2024.
The way things are shaping up, lawmakers in the Treasure State were pretty busy. According to the Billings Gazette, House Bill 302 and Senate Bills 340 and 516 will have an impact on the state's healthcare system by requiring insurance coverage for fertility preservation services for cancer patients, imposing a $35 co-pay limit on a 30-day supply of insulin, and covering 12 months' worth of contraceptive costs. All three laws were supported by both parties.
The Missoula Current reported that as Senate Bill 544 was set to go into effect on January 1, the adult website Pornhub allegedly blocked access to IP addresses in Montana. The measure aims to protect adolescents from pornography, which it describes as "a public health crisis," by requiring "reasonable" age verification for websites that have a "substantial portion" (33%), or more, of "harmful" or adult content. The measure outlines user protections, mandating that businesses "not retain any identifying information" and "must be liable" for damages if identifying information is purposefully preserved. A page outlining these modifications will be seen by website visitors using IP addresses based in Montana. The website has blacklisted IP addresses from some other states in the union.
Tax reforms formally went into force this year, but they won't have an effect until 2025 tax returns are filed. The reduction in Montana's seven tax rates to two—Senate Bill 399, passed in 2021—includes a lower 4.7% tax rate on income under $20,500 for single filers and $41,000 for joint filers. Senate Bill 121 raised the top tax level for individuals whose income exceeded the lower tax bracket thresholds from 6.5% to 5.9%. In lieu of "30% of their net long-term capital gains when calculating their Montana taxable income," House Bill 221 would impose 3% and 4.1% tax rates for the same income bracket limits, according to a fiscal note from the state legislature.
There are several other laws taking effect January 1 according to the Billings Gazette.
- House Bill 56, Extend the application of the bond validating act
- House Bill 89, Revise laws related to Montana National Guard life insurance and court
- House Bill 114, Revise timelines for water right permit and change process
- Parts of House Bill 156, Generally revise laws enforced by the State Auditor
- House Bill 240, Revise outdated reference for family education savings program laws
- House Bill 263, Revise insurance coverage for prescription eyedrop refills
- House Bill 333, Generally revise motorized recreation laws
- House Bill 439, Create a GVW fee for electric vehicles and hybrids being permanently registered
- House Bill 447, Provides for exceptions to the imposition of income tax on certain nonresidents
- Part of House Bill 469, Revise taxation of horizontally recompleted wells
- Part of House Bill 485, Revise tax rates for stripper oil production
- House Bill 612, Revise insurance requirements for diabetes self-management
- House Bill 764, Revise certain license plate fees
- Part of House Bill 823, Provides for alternative fuel taxation
- Part of House Bill 903, Generally revise marijuana laws
- Part of Senate Bill 53, Revise laws related to weights and measures
- Part of Senate Bill 104, Exempts retired military pensions from state income tax
- Part of Senate Bill 142, Provides oversight of local impact fee laws
- Part of Senate Bill 269, Establish consumer protections and disclosures in litigation financing
- Part of Senate Bill 294, Establishing the end of watch trust
- Senate Bill 300, Revise speech pathologist and audiologist licensing laws
- Part of Senate Bill 506, Increase and repeal termination of Montana charitable endowment tax credit
- Senate Bill 550, Generally revises income tax laws and clarifies income tax reform provisions
- Part of Senate Bill 554, Provides optional pass-through entity tax with a refundable credit
Montana welcomes 2024 with a variety of new legislation that will shape the state. The legislative tapestry shows the Treasure State's creativity, with healthcare improvements, adult content bans, and tax changes. As we navigate the changing legal landscape, we see that these changes reflect local and societal transformations. Montana begins the new year with legislative changes that reflect its inhabitants' changing needs and ideals, whether it's protecting teens from explicit content, modernizing tax structures, or amending licensing regulations. These legislative changes will become more noticeable as the year progresses, providing an interesting look at Montana and the law makers living in the Treasure state.
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