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Commissioners Argue Funds Should Come To Counties

The Roosevelt County Commissioners are hopeful that Senate Bill 442 becomes law so that marijuana tax revenue could be utilized to be spent by counties on road projects.

The bill easily passed both the state House and Senate, but Gov. Greg Gianforte vetoed the measure.

Roosevelt County Commissioner Gordon Oelkers expressed his disagreement during the governor’s recent visit to Culbertson. Under the proposal, 20 percent of marijuana tax credit in Montana would go to counties.

“It would definitely help our road department buy gravel in order to have access to state ground,” Oelkers said.

Commissioner Gary Macdonald added, “It would be a sizable chunk of money.”

Oelkers says the governor argues that the funds are state money, not county money. Oelkers said the governor notes that he could use the funds to help leverage for more federal dollars.

“We need a new source of revenue,” Oelkers said of county road projects.

Three groups, including the Montana Association of Counties, are suing Gianforte and the secretary of state over the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 442.

Bill sponsor Sen. Mike Lang, R-Malta, and the groups have argued that Gianforte’s veto of the bill was improper because it was not read in the Senate rostrum by the time the chamber voted to adjourn.

According to news reports, on June 7, MACO sued Gianforte and Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen, asking a judge to allow the legislature to vote on a poll override or to declare SB 442 law because they say Gianforte did not follow proper procedures.

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