Montana Community Reinvestment Plan (MCRP) Act
The Billings Chamber has been strongly supportive this session of pro-housing legislation aimed at reducing housing regulations and governmental barriers that make it more difficult for the private sector to address our affordable housing crisis. At the same time, we also support successful programs that can help incentivize the provision of attainable workforce housing like HB 546, a bill authorizing an additional $15 million of coal tax trust monies to fund loans for multifamily housing. The bill passed unanimously out of (H) Taxation and (H) Appropriations Committees and is scheduled for a 3rd Reading in the House today. The program was originally passed in 2019 and has resulted in the provision of 252 affordable apartments in Montana, including some in Yellowstone County.
Alone, the program won’t come close to addressing our immense housing needs in the state, and it’s not intended to. It’s one element of an all-of-the-above strategy with each element moving the ball a few inches at a time, and the inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in regulatory reductions, successful affordable housing incentives, and a new concept for providing workforce housing that our state hasn’t explored yet.
The Montana Community Reinvestment Plan (MCRP) Act
As currently written, HB 819 creates a $1.00 tax credit for every $0.95 in donations to fund workforce housing, with a total credit cap of $28,750,000. Workforce housing funds would then be distributed to communities, proportionate to a counties’ gross domestic product, to fund housing cost buydowns for eligible home buyers—those making between 60% – 140% of average median income. Homebuyers eligible for the MCRP buydown must still qualify and obtain a mortgage. Purchased properties are then deed restricted to maintain affordability of the property. The website promoting the bill notes significant potential benefits from the program, including an estimated annual savings of $12k per household.
With housing prices out of reach for many Billings residents (4 out of our top 5 occupations don’t make enough to afford a median home) the MCRP could provide significant benefits, especially when combined with the pro-housing bills working through the legislature—namely, removing government barriers to increase housing supply.
The MCRP bill has attracted strong bipartisan support with 53 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, but legislators still need to hear from you!
Call to Action: “Muster the Rohirrim!“
Everyone interested in supporting pro-housing solutions should contact the committee and let them know that we need to be innovative. We need to have an all-of-the-above solution to housing. We need to grab every inch of progress on housing that is available. We encourage you to contact the House Taxation Committee and let them know you support HB 819.
Working for You
Senate Bill 14
Revise MEDIA Act film credit cap
Sen. Greg Hertz (R)
Billings Chamber: SUPPORTS
Senate Bill 14 raises the cap for the MEDIA Act tax credits from $12 million to $30 million and comes at the request of the Revenue Interim Committee, a bipartisan committee that meets outside of the session and may refer bills to the legislature. The MEDIA Act was passed in 2019 and then increased in 2021. Incentivizing film production in Montana leads to numerous other benefits, providing manufacturing and trades jobs, increasing tourism, growing local businesses and economies, and diversifying Montana’s mix of industries. This bill was heard in (S) Taxation on March 17.
Senate Bill 245
Revise zoning to allow multifamily and mixed use development
Sen. Daniel Zolnikov (R)
Billings Chamber: SUPPORTS
This bill is unofficially titled the, “Freedom to Build Housing Near Jobs Act” and is aimed at removing barriers to housing development. With input from building and construction businesses, the bill would allow for mixed-use (that includes residential) and multifamily housing to be built where jobs are located, in office and retail zoning districts. The bill also includes some thoughtful sideboards such as only applying to cities with populations above 7,000 residents and limiting certain standards of development. The bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support (40 – 10) and will be heard in (H) Local Government on Thursday at 3:00 pm.
Noon – 1:00pm
February 2nd: Billings REALTORS
February 16th: Big Sky EDA
March 16th: Downtown Billings
March 30th: Visit Billings
Videoconference sessions will be held in the Liberal Arts Building, Room 208 at the MSU Billings campus, where individuals will have the opportunity to hear from, and ask questions of, our local legislators. There is a limit of 25 people for each in-person session and a box lunch will be provided for those who RSVP. Come and hear from our local legislators about what is happening in Helena and give your feedback. Thanks to MSU Billings and our sponsors: Billings Association of REALTORS, Big Sky Economic Development, Downtown Billings Alliance, and the newly certified LEED Gold, City of Billings.
Virtual Testimony Makes It Easy
- You will be able to select from the bills scheduled for the next 3 days.
- By 5PM the day before the hearing, you will be able to submit your written testimony, write a brief message, or request a Zoom link to testify in the bill hearing.
- Fill out the form with the pertinent details and submit. You will receive an email confirmation.
- You do not have to testify in order to submit written comments. Written comments received by the deadline will be distributed to all committee members. However, if you request a Zoom link, we request that you write a brief message in the event of technical difficulties so that your name will be entered into the record.
- If you wish to submit written testimony after the 5PM deadline, please call the Information Desk at (406) 444-4800 for assistance.
- Rules of decorum must be followed, and the Presiding Officer will call on you when it is your turn to speak. Follow the Zoom directions and raise your hand to let the Remote Committee Coordinator know when you want to speak. We will not assume that because you requested the Zoom link that you automatically want to testify. There may be limits placed on how many people are allowed to testify remotely on each bill.
Business Advocacy Sponsors
|Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Billings Chamber’s Business Advocacy Director, Dan Brooks, with questions, comments, or if you just want to chat about the legislature.|
Email Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org