Senate panel nixes bill on brucellosis status

By MICHELLE BURGER/Montana State News

A state Senate committee tabled a measure that would remove brucellosis from the federal disease list.

Although this disease, which is carried by many wild elk and bison, can be transmitted from animals to humans, it is uncommon and can be cured easily. Some believe this disease still poses a lingering threat with over $3 billion already used trying to vaccinate cattle. SJ 19, introduced by Sen. Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman, was tabled by an 8-1 vote by the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee.

According to testimony on the measure, many believe that once the disease is taken off the federal disease list, research will restart as scientists try to develop an effective vaccine.

In other business the committee:

  • Voted 4-5 to table a bill that allows individuals to traditional regalia and objects of cultural significance. The purpose of SB 319, introduced by Sen. Jen Groww, D-Billingsm is to further the state’s representation of American Indians cultural integrity. Sen. Frank Smith, D-Poplar, a supporter of the bill, said: “A lot of traditional heritage cannot be used in school.” The bill aims to remedy that representation in schools.
  • Unanimously passed SB 321. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Albert Olszewski, R-Kalispell, said we need to revise the laws concerning cadavers in medical and nursing education. Olszewski said “It’s not a dead issue? No, we’re not going to let it lie, sir,” in response to criticism. Olszewski noted that he used cadavers for surgical training and an apprenticeship. Cadavers can only be used in Montana in medical school for anatomic dissection and reach. This bill allows for those in with a license to procure a specimen for a surgical facility. SB 321 says that the cadavers will be self-contained and meet all required regulations.
  • Passed SB 272 on an 8-1 vote. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Roger Webb, R-Billings, opposed the revision of laws associated with assisted care facility licensing and mental health. The communities need places that senior citizens can go without being placed into hospitals. Hospitals don’t offer correct treatments for dementia and Alzheimers. The bill also aims to maintain a lower cost for patients.
  • Voted unanimously to table SB 320. This bill is being supported by Sen. Diane Sands, D-Missoula. Sands seeks to revise the laws associated with licensure of addiction counselors with a gambling endorsement. Persons with a license to treat a gambling disorder must provide criteria for this certification. The bill seeks to revise what schooling and standards must be met in order to receive a certification.
  • Tabled SB 323 with a 7-2 vote. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Mary Caferro, D-Helena, proposes a revision of laws related to mental competency of persons accused of crimes.

– edited by Tim Stover

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