Governor Martz Expands Special Session at the Request of Attorney General’s Office
HELENA – Governor Martz today expanded the call for the forthcoming special legislative session to include legislation to change Montana’s sexual or violent offender registration laws and bring the state into compliance with federal guidelines. The session was expanded at the request of Attorney General Mike McGrath.
“It is important that our state law complies with federal standards to ensure that we protect victims’ rights, and to ensure that we maintain federal funding for key crime protection programs,” said Governor Martz. “I appreciate the Attorney General’s request to expand the session in this regard.”
The proposed changes would bring Montana into compliance with two federal laws – the so-called Pam Lychner Act and the Departments of Commerce, Justice, State, the Judiciary and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (CJSA). Since the state has failed to comply with the federal requirements, it has lost 10 percent of the federal funds awarded under the Edward Byrne Memorial Grant Program. Each year, Montana receives about $2.5 million of these Byrne funds.
“I am grateful to the governor,” McGrath said from California, where he’s been attending the Conference of Western Attorneys General. “With these simple changes to the Sexual or Violent Offender Registration Act, Montana lawmakers can ensure that state and local communities receive desperately-needed federal funds.
“At the same time, these changes will make a good Montana law even better,” McGrath said.
The Montana Board of Crime Control allocates Byrne funds for drug enforcement and prevention programs, including the state’s seven drug task forces, the Missoula Youth Drug Program, an automated fingerprint identification system for the Billings Police Department and an education program for batterers.
The proposed legislation clarifies some specific guidelines for mandatory lifetime registration and registration for non-resident and student offenders.
Addressing this issue in the Special Session will restore funds already lost this fiscal year, and will ensure that Montana will receive full Byrne funding in the future.
The specific addition to the Call for Special Session states:
7) Legislation amending Montana’s Sexual & Violent Offender Act to bring Montana into compliance with federal law, which will restore lost federal funds for the current state fiscal year as well as ensure that Montana receives full federal fund allocation in future years.