GREAT FALLS - Governor Greg Gianforte was in Great Falls on Wednesday to promote his "Red Tape Relief" plan, which he says eliminates burdensome, outdated and unnecessary regulations.
When he first took office, Gianforte established the Red Tape Relief Task Force to conduct a top to bottom review of every state agency.
Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras was charged with creating the task force to reform Montana’s regulatory code and spur innovation, grow the state’s economy and create better-paying jobs.
Gianforte says so far in the 68th legislative session, the effort has resulted in 170 red tape-cutting proposals.
On Wednesday Gianforte toured Calumet Specialty Products Partners to get a first-hand look at a business benefiting from the initiative.
“Our 2016 expansion there was about a hundred direct full-time employees, we’re up to around 240 now,” said plant manager Carlos Centurion as he gave the Governor a tour.
Calumet continues to expand. The 100-year-old refinery recently began producing renewable diesel fuel.
Centurion says the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s streamlining of environmental permitting for the project is an example of red tape relief in action.
“It was a very collaborative effort that resulted in one of the most efficient permits anywhere in the U.S.,” said Centurion.
Gianforte says one of the administration's marquis red tape relief proposals, House Bill 152, will help simplify and streamline professional and occupations licensing.
“One of our focuses is the health-care industry,” said Gianforte. “Our licensing reforms will allow more providers to practice in Montana, ultimately increasing Montanans access to health care. But our reforms are not just for health care providers. They also cover plumbers, electricians, carpenters, welders really across the board.”
Some people are hesitant to jump on board with changing the licensing procedures, saying a one size fits all policy isn’t always best.
“What applies to an architect doesn’t apply to an attorney,” said Krista Smith who manages the Great Falls Builders Exchange.
The organization is owned by the Great Falls Society of Architects, a profession that would be impacted by HB 152.
While Smith is in favor of cutting red tape, she’s concerned the bill is a matter of public safety.
She says professional training varies around the country. An architect license in a place like Florida differs greatly from Montana.
“Roof loads are very different for snow versus what it would look like for something in Florida,” said Smith. “They’re not worried they are going to get three feet of snow on the roof down there.”
She says changing the licensing could create a “free for all.”
Gianforte maintains every worker deserves a safe workplace and there’s a constitutional obligation to protect the environment.
“The only regulations we’re removing are the excessive ones,” said Gianforte. “The burdensome ones that just don’t make any sense that are impeding small business and large business from succeeding in the state.”
The most recent action for House Bill 152 was a January hearing in front of the House Business and Labor Committee.