Montana Lawmakers Pass Bill to Reappropriate Marijuana Tax Revenue

When Montana voters approved marijuana legalization in 2020, they passed an initiative with very specific uses for marijuana tax revenue. A bill passed by both the House and Senate would alter this in a few different ways.

Senate Bill 442 was passed yesterday through the House of Representatives 84 to 16. In the Senate, the measure was passed earlier this month 49 to 1. It will need to be passed through a third and final reading in each chamber before it can be sent to Governor Greg Gianforte.

SB 442, filed by Senator Mike Lang, creates a new special revenue account for county road habitat access. This account “would be funded by a 20% distribution from the marijuana state special revenue account and the funds would be appropriated to the Department of Transportation to be distributed monthly to county and consolidated city-county governments.” The funding would be used for “construction, reconstruction, maintenance and road repair”.

The bill would also:

  • Change the $6 million into the HEART fund (to combat drug addiction) to instead be 11% of total revenue
  • Increase the veteran’s account distribution from $200,000 to 5%
  • Create a new habitat legacy account to be used by the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks for Habitat Montana and other wildlife habitat improvement projects, which would account for 20% of the marijuana state special revenue account. 75% of the funding deposited into the habitat legacy account would be required to “fund wildlife habitat purchases”
  • Allocate 5% to the Department of Military Affairs

Under the marijuana legalization initiative approved by voters in November, 2020, $6 million of the state’s marijuana tax revenue is put aside for the HEART account, with the rest being distributed as follows:

  • 20% to the credit of the department of fish, wildlife and parks for wildlife habitat
  • 4% to the state park account
  • 4% to the trails and recreational facilities account
  • 4% to the nongame wildlife account
  • 3% or $200,000, which is less, to the veterans and surviving spouses state special revenue account
  • $150,000 to the board of crime control

A somewhat competing measure, House Bill 669, was recently passed by the House. That bill would keep the $6 million HEART fund, but would put 100% of all additional revenue into the state’s general fund. This would give lawmakers full discretion over how the funds are used.

The fiscal note for Senate Bill 442 can be found by clicking here, and the full text can be found here.

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