The Montana Legislature released its list of committee assignments in the House of Representatives, with a second-term Havre Republican getting the top seat in a key committee.
Rep. Kris Hansen, R-Havre, was assigned as the chair of the House Education Committee, where she served as vice chair last session.
Rep. Wendy Warburton, R-Chinook, and Rep.-elect Clarena Brockie, D-Hays, had not responded to requests for comments by press deadline this morning.
Hansen, who left her position as chief deputy Hill County attorney to go into practice as a consultant, including on drafting legislation for education issues and tax issues, also was again assigned to the House Taxation Committee. In her first session, she worked on the House Rules, Local Government and Judiciary committees as well as vice-chairing Education, but was not assigned to those three committees this session.
Hansen said this morning she wants one focus to be providing alternatives and options to education, including the state Board of Education backing off on some accreditation requirements and allowing more local control by school boards in return for the Legislature supporting funding increase requests by the Office of Public Instruction and outgoing Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
Another would be pushing for charter schools to allow more options for students, and for tax credits where a taxpayer could deduct an amount from their taxes that they pay to a scholarship organization, which then would provide scholarships for public schools students to move to an alternative school such as a private school or online program.
She said she also supports using an educational savings account, where a parent could petition OPI to put part of the money allocated for the education of the parent’s child into an account to be used for an alternative education, with the remainder of the allocation still going to the public school.
(Look for further information on Hansen’s positions on education in future editions of the Havre Daily News.)
State Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, who is on the Senate education and joint Senate-House appropriations subcommittee on education, also said he is interested in looking at how the state could support charter schools.
Hansen said another bill she is working on is to eliminate many of the tax credits offered in Montana’s tax code, and use the savings to reduce the number of tax brackets and the state tax rates.
Warburton was assigned to the Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Judiciary, and Natural Resources committees for the 2013 session. Fish, Wildlife and Parks is a new committee for the third-term legislator, who left the committees on Rules and Legislative Administration to which she was assigned in 2011.
Warburton has filed several pieces of legislation that dealt with Fish, Wildlife and Parks issues, including several proposals dealing with the state’s management of bison, altering regulations of the department and restricting the authority of game wardens.
She has long been an advocate of increasing the harvesting of natural resources by means such as streamlining application and permitting processes and by making the state tax code “stable and predictable.” Warburton has campaigned on reducing business taxes in all three of her elections.
Incoming freshman Brockie was assigned to the House Education, Local Government and State Administration committees.
The legislator she defeated in the primary, second-term Rep. Tony Belcourt, D-Box Elder, served in 2011 on the House Appropriations Committee and the joint House-Senate appropriations subcommittee on education.