2011 Legislative Outlook

Aaron Flint posted on December 28, 2010 09:27 :: 1496 Views

In preparation for the 2011 Montana Legislative Session, The Great Falls Tribune looks at physician assisted suicide bills, while Lee Newspapers Chuck Johnson looks at the pay and pensions for public employees.

Public Employee Pay, Pension Options Considered

Rep. Cynthia Hiner, D-Deer Lodge, is sponsoring Schweitzer’s proposed pay plan, which calls for a 1 percent pay increase in January 2012 and a 3 percent raise in January 2013.

This pay plan has been overshadowed at times by a proposal by Sen. Dave Lewis, R-Helena, to cap state employees’ pay at twice the mean household income in Montana, plus benefits. He wants to put the measure on the ballot as a referendum and bypass Schweitzer, who has criticized the idea.

Rep. Brian Hoven, R-Great Falls, has proposed that the state switch to a “defined contribution” system for all new state employees hired as of 2012. This would resemble the 401(k) systems used by many private employers in which both employers and employees contribute to a fund that is managed by individual employees for their use when they retire. Returns would vary widely depending on the individuals’ investment decisions, with these plans not guaranteeing a fixed monthly benefit when people retire.

Lots of other proposals and options being considered as well.  Click here to read the full article.

Physician Assisted Suicide, GF Tribune

Almost exactly one year ago, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that terminally ill patients have the right to choose aid in dying under state law.

Now aid in dying, also known as physician-assisted suicide, is shaping up to be one of the most hotly debated issues of the 2011 legislative session. Lawmakers will consider two competing bills — one aiming to legalize physician-assisted suicide and the other seeking to ban it — when the Legislature convenes Jan. 3.

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