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Meet MTA's Lead Advocate
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John Iverson

Montana’s two-year political cycle has a couple different “seasons.” The compact legislative session occurs every odd-numbered year from January to April. In the lead-up to each session, I’m busy educating legislators and regulators, working on committees, and talking with tavern owners about issues important to you. The work I do on your behalf during this “off-season” lays the groundwork that is critical to having a successful legislative session—a session that can move fast and furious once underway.

So exactly what have I been up to? In the last 30 days, I’ve been on the road, visiting cities across our great state to meet with dozens of legislators and legislative candidates. I’m reaching out to these folks to talk about the critical and complex issues facing tavern owners. In addition to my recent travels to Conrad, Butte, Great Falls, Billings, and Fairmont, I meet with legislators whenever they’re in Helena, which lessens my travel time.  

That being said, I am always happy to take a trip to your neighborhood and meet with you and your local area legislators or legislative candidates. If this interests you, please contact me and we’ll get it scheduled. Remember, it’s important that the people running to be representatives understand the issues that impact your business and family. If we don’t tell them, who will?

When the legislature is not in session, interim committees meet in the Capital. The Economic Affairs Interim Committee is charged with the oversight of alcohol. Lately, I have been spending a fair amount of time before this committee working on some of the drafting flaws that occurred on SB5, the bill that created the liquor license auction process.

When not visiting with legislators or working on interim committees, I often meet with regulators to discuss issues important to tavern owners. Over the last month I have had multiple contacts with the Montana Department of Justice and Department of Revenue to work on issues that are directly impacting our fellow business owners. I delivered a report to the Gaming Advisory Council on what we expect to see in the 2019 Legislative Session and attended an Alcohol Industry Coalition meeting. I also just returned from the Gaming Industry Association’s meeting.

I expect that the 2019 Legislative Session is going to be an active year for MTA members, especially considering the recent US Supreme Court ruling on sports betting. Whether you are excited to bring sports betting into your establishment or you don’t think that it has a place in Montana, know that we anticipate legislation to be proposed, and it will likely impact your business. 

The off-season is a great time to update your contact information with the MTA. When legislation affecting your business is proposed during our intense legislative session, I’ll need to contact members immediately. Hearing from you ASAP can make or break a bill. This is the power of your MTA.

As you all know, there’s never a dull moment when you’re in the hospitality industry. I enjoy the work I do representing your interests in Helena and around the state. If you would like to plan a meet-and-greet with legislators and/or candidates, or if you have any questions, I am always here to help.