The Montana legislative session doesn’t officially start until Jan. 7, but newly elected House District 35 representative Joel Krautter is already working hard in preparation of the scheduled 90-day session.
Krautter attended orientation for legislators shortly before Thanksgiving. “I’ve already started meeting with legislators from across the state to build relationships that will be important when the session begins,” Krautter said.
The Republican has been appointed to the business and labor, transportation and Fish, Wildlife and Parks committees.
“I’m really excited about the committees,” Krautter said. He noted that he really wants to focus on economic growth for the state through the business and labor committee.
He sees several challenging issues for the FWP committee including Chronic Wasting Disease and mussels invading waterways. “I’m excited to be discussing these issues during the session.”
Krautter said corresponding with constituents will be a priority for him. “It’s important for it to be a two-way exchange,” he explained. People can contact him through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, cell phone at 406-560-5952 or /www.facebook.com/JoelKrautterMT/. Letters can be mailed to State Capitol Building, PO Box 200400, Helena, MT 59620.
He encourages people to voice their thoughts about proposed legislation. He notes that 1,900 bill requests have already been made for the session, and some people are predicting that the figure will reach 2,500 bill drafts.
“It’s a real sprint,” Krautter said of how busy legislators will be during the session.
He notes there are three areas that he is especially working. One area is having an incentive so that trade school and vocational graduates can come back to rural Montana more easily. “Montana is growing, but our focus has been more on urban areas,” he explained.
He is also working on legislation to encourage more secondary oil recovery. With so many wells in Richland County, Krautter said the legislation would be huge for the region.
He hopes to restore some of the tax funds to cities and towns that have been impacted by energy development. “It’s important for our municipalities to get the money back,” he added.
Last week, Gov. Steve Bullock announced his budget proposal.
Krautter said there were “a few things” he liked about Bullock’s proposal including putting money into infrastructure for fossil-fuel impacted communities.
“I’m still reviewing it,” Krautter said of Bullock’s budget.
He doesn’t agree with the governor’s proposed tax increases. Krautter feels infrastructure can be addressed with the $300 million set aside as a cushion in the general fund instead of raising residents’ taxes.
A top issue during the session is expected to be Medicaid expansion. The program is anticipated to cost Montana an extra $126 million during 2020 and 2021.
Krautter is looking forward to working with other legislators to find the best solutions for the state.
“I’ve had some great conversations,” Krautter said. “It’s really good to get to know the great legislators across Montana. I feel those relationships will be a great benefit for our district.”
He added, “I’m excited to serve the people of Richland County and be a problem solver.”