The Montana Legislature wrapped up its first full day in Helena with House Republicans adding several issues to the governor’s agenda.

Speaker of the House Austin Knudsen outlined the additions to the session.

“We expanded it to look at more budget transfers, to take a hard look at the governor’s cut list and we put those in statute,” Knudsen said. “We want to take a good hard look at the Shelby prison. We’re in a budget crunch, according to the governor, and we have an opportunity to recollect $30 million taxpayer dollars that have gone to the down payment account, and they have offered to give that back to us in exchange for a small contract extension.”

Knudsen said one particular social issue was also added to the agenda regarding transgendered persons.

“What that one really comes down to is the Department of Health and Human Services had decided without any direction from the legislature to implement by rule what is a hot-button issue, and one that could have real fiscal impact for the state. It has to deal how you label your sex on your birth certificate. We got the requisite number of votes to expand the session to at least be able to talk about that.”

Another issue of interest to Missoula is property tax relief. Knudsen said property values have skyrocketed all over the state due to the Department of Revenue.

“My taxes on my ranch property on the eastern side of the state went up by 40 percent this year,” he said. “We’ve got a Democrat-controlled Department of revenue that’s out assigning property tax values because, quite frankly, you’ve got a state government with an insatiable need for funding. They’re out there raising taxes, and we don’t want to do that.”

The special session will continue on Wednesday.

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