HELENA – The Montana House Friday endorsed a bill increasing the license fee paid by most investment advisers and stockbrokers doing business in Montana — a bill that raises about $8 million a year and could be part of the final budget picture at the 2019 Legislature.
The House voted 59-40 to advance House Bill 694, which will have an additional hearing in the House Appropriations Committee before facing a final floor vote.
Rep. Jim Hamilton (D-Bozeman) a retired financial adviser and sponsor of the bill, said the $50 fee paid by stockbrokers or salespeople for investment firms hasn’t been changed since 1982. Industry officials in Montana also support the change, he added.
The bill doubles the fee to $100 for out-of-state sales representatives but leaves it at $50 for those working in Montana. It also doubles the fee paid by financial advisers and broker-dealers who sell securities, from $200 to $400.
Hamilton said about 108,000 stockbrokers and securities salespeople are registered to do business in Montana, and that all but 2,200 of them are non-residents.
The fee increase is part of Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s proposed state budget for the next two years.
Opponents said the increase is not related to the cost of regulating financial advisers and stockbrokers and is only to help balance the state budget, and should be rejected.
House Speaker Greg Hertz (R-Polson) said those in search of future revenue for the state could target license fees for any profession, and urged members to defeat the bill.
Seventeen Republicans joined all 42 House Democrats in voting for HB694.