House majority fails to "blast" state pay plan: not over yet
Who might you contact in the House who might vote YES on bringing HB 13 to the floor for a vote?
Moderate Republicans can vary with the motion on the floor, the last deal made, where their own bills might be, and if they are planning on running reelection. . . but all of the following could/should be voting FOR HB 13. Three of them have already been voting YES: Clark, Custer, and Hollandsworth.
We need 10 of these to pass HB 13 in the House. Please concentrate on these folks:
1. Tom Berry
2. Christy Clark
3. Rob Cook
4. Mike Cuffe (?)
5. Geraldine Custer
6. Steve Fitzpatrick (?)
7. Frank Garner
8. Roy Hollandsworth
9. Steve Lavin
10. Tom Richmond
11. Dan Salomon
12. Ray Shaw
13. Jeff Welborn
Ask them to bring HB 13 to the floor and then vote YES on it! You can use the legislative email system.
Email tip: once you have entered your information on the legislative email form, selected your legislator, typed your message, and clicked "send message," hit the back arrow on your web browser. That way, you won't have to re-enter your contact information and message. Just select a new legislator.
You can also call 406-444-4800 and leave a message for up to five House members at a time.
The House Appropriations Committee voted on almost a straight party line last week to table HB 13 yesterday morning.
This, after state employees brought a pay plan forward that was exactly what Republican leadership asked for. Go figure.
Representative Roy Hollandsworth of Brady was the sole Republican to vote against the table motion. Thank you, Rep. Hollandsworth! All Democrats voted against tabling HB 13. Huge thanks to them as well.
Friday, March 27, Democratic legislators tried to "blast" HB 13 to the floor for full debate and vote but the blast motion failed to get the needed votes. How did your legislator vote on the blast motion?
Next up: silver bullet attempt. Unlike a blast motion, which takes 60 votes to pass, the Democratic legislators can use one of their "silver" bullets to get HB 13 to the floor with a simple majority.
This all has to happen very quickly in order to meet the transition deadline. All spending and tax bills have to be sent from the House to the Senate, and from the Senate to the House, by Tuesday.
We will NOT give up on HB 13!
State employees respond: MEA-MFT Secretary-Treasurer Rich Aarstad, senior archivist at the Montana Historical Society, wrote the following eloquent letter to the editor responding to an R legislator's incorrect comment in this article on HB 13.
Uninformed Legislators [who oppose HB 13]
It is absurd to suggest that state employees have received as much as a 15% pay increase over the last two years.
Any legislator can review the work done in regard to HJR 17, from the 2013 session, that shows how badly broken and poorly managed the broadband pay plan is. They can even access the reports prepared by the Legislative Fiscal Division that attest to this.
Point of fact, if the state were to follow the broadband pay plan it would require approximately $193 million dollars to bring state employee pay up to current market rate.
Instead state employees, through our unions, negotiated a very modest 50 cent an hour pay increase each year of the biennium; the very plan Republicans asked us to bring to them.
The total cost for HB 13 this session is $72 million. That’s considerably less than what it would take to make broadband work.
This is a good plan and the Republicans who requested we bring them a flat dollar pay increase need to honor their word instead of looking for ways to punish taxpaying Montana workers.
MEA-MFT Secretary Treasurer
Panel tables pay raises for state workers
CHARLES S. JOHNSON IR State Bureau – March 28, 2015
The House Appropriations Committee on Friday tabled a negotiated pay raise for state employees.
The panel voted 11-9 to table -- and, potentially kill -- House Bill 13.
It incorporated the pay agreement negotiated last fall between the administration of Gov. Steve Bullock and three public employee unions. The deal called for pay hikes of 50 cents an hour in each of the next two years for state employees.
Under the agreement, employees also stood to receive a 10 percent increase in the state’s share of their health insurance premiums, effective the first full pay period in January 2016 and 8 percent a year later in January 2017.
Rep. Randy Brodehl, R-Kalispell, made the motion to table the bill. He said he had “significant concerns” about HB13, noting that state benefit plans have gone up by 10 percent annually.
Because of the motion to table, Democratic committee members weren’t able to debate it.
The vote was by straight party lines, with all Republicans voting to table the bill, except for Rep. Roy Hollandsworth, R-Brady, who joined all Democrats to oppose the motion.
Afterward, Quinton Nyman, executive director of the one of the unions, the Montana Public Employees Association, said, “This is troubling, to say the least. I’m incredibly disappointed that they couldn’t even discuss it.”
He said legislators last session asked the unions and Bullock administration to agree on a flat dollar amount for pay raises, instead of a percentage amount.
“We brought them exactly what they asked for,” he said.
Asked what he thought the reaction of state workers would be to the committee tabling the pay raise bill, Nyman said, “I would hope it would be outrage.“
He said he hoped state workers will contact their legislators to express their concern.
If the pay raise deal remains tabled, it will jeopardize an agreement between the Montana Board of Regents and the legislative budget committee to freeze tuition for Montana students. Funding the pay raises for university system employees was a condition of the tuition freeze.
“Montanans tell us they need and desire affordable access to college classes,” said Kevin McRae, a deputy commissioner of higher education. “To freeze tuition prices, we need funding to hire the faculty and staff who educate and serve Montana students.”
He added, “We have an agreement with our budget subcommittee to freeze tuition prices if we get a funded state pay plan. We look forward to working with legislators toward this priority for their constituents.”
Union leader Nyman said he would ask House Minority Leader Chuck Hunter, D-Helena, to use one of his “silver bullets” to bring the pay bill to the floor later Friday by a simple majority for a vote.
Hunter said later he had intended to try to blast HB13 to the floor for debate Friday, but a successful motion to adjourn for the day prevented this and other motions from being offered. Blasting a bill from committee is an alternative to using a silver bullet and takes a three-fifths majority, or 60 votes, to succeed.
Under legislative rules, both Republican and Democratic sides were given six “silver bullets” to bring bills from committees to the House floor for debate with a simple majority vote instead of the three-fifths motion it normally required.
Rep. Kathy Swanson, D-Anaconda, is the sponsor of the bill.