By Shaylee Ragar, MTPR

A bill moving through the Montana Legislature would allow property owners to claim compensation from the state if they incur losses due to state regulations. Supporters say businesses deserve the reimbursement, while opponents say it’ll leave a massive hole in the state’s budget.

Senate Bill 260 would require the state to compensate property owners who see a 25% decline or more in property value in relation to state regulations or rules. It would also broaden the definition of property. 

The policy has already been endorsed by the Senate and was heard in the House Business and Labor Committee Tuesday. 

Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Great Falls, is the bill’s sponsor and said the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted why the policy is needed. 

“Orders came in, they destroyed peoples’ businesses, they put people out of work and there’s nothing you can do about it. So what this bill does is it restores a little bit of balance so that you are not losing your business, or friends and neighbors aren’t being run out of business by government regulation.”

A similar bill passed the state Senate in 2009 and later died on a tie vote in the House. 

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