HELENA — While Montana legislators wrapped up their 2021 session in April, many of the new laws they passed have just taken effect, as of Thursday, July 1.
The most prominent parts of House Bill 701 – setting up rules for recreational marijuana sales in Montana – will not be implemented until January 2022. However, several major provisions took effect July 1. The state’s medical marijuana program and 22 full-time positions were transferred from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to the Montana Department of Revenue, which will also oversee the adult-use program once it begins.
Other sections of HB 701 taking effect Thursday set up the process for local governments to regulate recreational marijuana businesses and created new rules allowing counties to appoint judicial officers to handle expungements of prior marijuana convictions.
Numerous bills changing laws about schools also took effect July 1, the first day of the new school year. One of the most notable is House Bill 112, which bars transgender women and girls from participating in competitions designated for female student-athletes.
Other school-related bills going into effect include:
· House Bill 143, which offers school districts a financial incentive to increase starting pay for teachers.
· House Bill 334, which expands which health care providers can sign off on medical exemptions to school immunization requirements.
· Senate Bill 72, which allows school districts to receive some additional funding for private-school and homeschooled students who participate in public school extracurricular activities.
· Senate Bill 99, which allows parents or guardians to remove their children from sex education programs.
Also taking effect Thursday were Senate Bill 51, which provides a five-year moratorium on property taxes for new broadband cable projects, and House Bill 449, which creates a “rebuttable presumption” that suspects in stalking and partner or family member assault cases should be placed on electronic monitoring when on pretrial release.
July 1 is also the first day of the biennium – the two-year period on which state budgets are based. That means new laws that change how state funding is allocated are often implemented on that day.