The Montana House on Thursday (March 31) killed and then revived a bill to provide $1 million for Montana’s two Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Signature Events – funded through taxes collected on sales of motorhomes in the state.
According to the Great Falls Tribune, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Bob Bergren, D-Havre, creates a new tax on the sale of motorhomes to out-of-state individuals/businesses. Motorhome buyers had been establishing Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) in Montana, taking advantage of the state’s lack of sales tax.
Bergren said the legislation would raise about $860,000 over the next two years. The bill also says $1 million would go to help fund the Signature Events in Great Falls, Fort Benton and Billings.
House members gave HB771 preliminary approval on Wednesday, but then voted it down, 51-49, on Thursday. But within the hour, House members voted 57-42 to reconsider the earlier vote, setting up another final vote today.
Critics of the bill have said the money should not be designated for events that benefit only a few communities. And even if House members decide today to approve the measure, other moves are needed to earmark the $1 million for the Lewis and Clark events.
The current version of the bill says that buyers of motorhomes would pay $65 to $500, depending on the age and size of the motor home.