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Bill To Add Fee To Electric Vehicles, Another Looks To Change Concealed Carry Permits

A bill that would add a yearly fee to all electric vehicles in the state gets one step closer to becoming law.

Rep. Denley Loge, R-St. Regis, is sponsoring House Bill 60 which would add an annual fee to all electric vehicles in the state to substitute for Montana’s gas tax.

The bill passed the House of Representatives on 92-8 on Jan. 25, and following a second reading vote of 38-12 in the Senate on March 14, it will be evaluated by the Senate Finance and Claims Committee before it can be sent back to the Senate for a final vote.

“Now we all know we drive on our roads, we’ve heard about some of that already today, and our roads do fall apart,” Sen. Mark Noland, R-Bigfork, said when presenting the bill to the Senate. “So what’s fair for us who use our gasoline cars, diesel trucks – we get assessed an allotment at the gas pump. There is nothing to be charged for our wonderful electric cars.”

Annual fees on electric vehicles would range from $130 to $1,000 depending on weight of the vehicle and calculations on how much gas tax that car would pay yearly if it had a combustion engine.

During committee hearings on the bill, the Montana Environmental Information Center raised questions about the cost of the fees and the math that was used to calculate them.

The group has opposed the bill throughout the process, arguing that the fees were way too high in comparison to other states. Several of the group’s representatives pointed to Utah, which has a $90 fee and North Dakota, which has a $120 fee, both lower than the proposed fee in Montana.

Enhanced Concealed Carry Permit The Montana House of Representatives will now debate a bill that would allow for an enhanced concealed carry permit that would allow permit-holders to carry firearms in five additional states.

Rep. Kerri Seekins-Crowe, R-Billings, is sponsoring House Bill 674, which would create additional requirements for an enhanced concealed carry permit that would be effective across state lines, and would require a background check and safety training.

“In 2021, House Bill 102 enhanced Monatanans second- amendment rights and promoted public safety, by making it easier for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves from criminals,” Seekins-Crowe said. “Every law-abiding citizen in Montana should be able to defend themselves and their loved ones and be confident that their right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. This is what this bill is about.”

The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee 17-2 on Feb. 28, and passed second reading in the house 95-5 on Mar. 2.

The bill was moved to the House Appropriations Committee, which advanced it back to the House with amendments on an 18-0 vote.

In 2021, the legislature passed a bill that gave any resident in the state the ability to conceal carry a legally owned firearm without a permit or background check. HB 674 sets up a process of background checks and training that an individual must complete to receive a concealed carry permit that would extend to other states such as Minnesota, Washington, South Carolina, Delaware, and New Mexico. The permit would last for five years and permit-holders would be monitored, including their criminal records, mental stability and completion of firearm safety training courses that are sanctioned by law enforcement agencies.

“Getting the enhanced concealed carry is completely optional, and included the components that these five states require to gain reciprocity: fingerprint based background checks, a live fire exercise, criminal background check, and a course in firearm training and safety,” Seekins-Crowe said.

The permit would also only be available to those 21-year-old or older.

Rep. Zooey Zephyr, D-Missoula, supported the bill, saying that the bill would allow Montanans to not accidentally enter a state that has stricter concealed carry laws. She said it would maintain a method for residents to have the proper training and permitting to enter those states and still be able to concealed carry.

“My only slight reservation with this bill is that it’s static. I wish there was a way to make sure that as states potentially pass laws with differing restrictions that we would be able to adapt to ensure that Montanans can have their second amendment rights,” Zephyr said.

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