Organization of the department:
(1) History. The Department of Commerce was implemented under 2-15-104, MCA, on July 1, 1981.
(2) Director. The director of Commerce, appointed by the Governor, heads the department. The director is responsible for the administration of the department and its programs. The Director's Office directly administers five programs:
(a) Office of Public Information
(b) Office of Legal Affairs
(c) Office of Human Resources
(d) Office of Accounting and Budget
(e) Office of Information Technology
(3) Board of Investments. The Board of Investments invests the state's pension funds, trust funds, surplus treasury cash, and other miscellaneous funds. A short-term investment program is managed for the state of Montana and local governments. The board also manages development finance programs. The development finance programs utilize the state's available assets for loans and the issuance or backing of bonds.
(4) Business Resources Division. The Business Resources Division offers key finance, technical assistance, and information resources for private businesses, local and regional development organizations, and local communities aimed at improving, enhancing, and diversifying Montana's economy.
(5) Board of Research and Commercialization Technology. The board provides a predictable and stable source of funding for research and commercialization projects aimed at strengthening the state's basic industries and provides funding to expand research efforts in new industries with the goal of diversifying and improving the state's economy.
(6) State-Tribal Economic Development Commission. The State-Tribal Economic Development Commission works with tribal governments and Native Americans to expand economic development opportunities on each of the seven reservations and with the Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians.
(7) Economic Development Advisory Council. The Economic Development Advisory Council advises the department concerning the distribution of funds to certified regional development corporations for business development purposes, and regarding the creation, operation, and maintenance of the microbusiness finance program and the policies and operations affecting the certified microbusiness development corporations. The council also advises the Governor and the department on significant matters concerning economic development in Montana.
(8) Housing Division. The division consists of several programs designed to increase the affordability and availability of safe and decent housing for Montana citizens. The Section 8 Housing Program provides rental assistance to qualified lower income families in Montana. The Montana HOME Program is designed to expand the supply of safe, decent, affordable housing in the state by providing gap financing.
(9) Board of Housing. The Board of Housing issues tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds to provide below-market interest rate financing to primarily first-time home buyers. The board also administers programs designed to develop lower income multifamily rental housing.
(10) Board of Horseracing. The board licenses, regulates, and reviews mule, greyhound, and horse races. The board also licenses and regulates simulcast facilities and advance deposit wagering on mule, greyhound, and horse races.
(11) Facility Finance Authority. The Facility Finance Authority authorizes the sale of bonds in order to provide funding for eligible facilities to purchase major equipment and capital construction. By making this bonding authority available, costs will be contained by reducing the costs of facilities and equipment so that these savings may be passed on to consumers.
(12) Community Development Division. The division directly administers three grant programs and one technical assistance program:
(a) the state-funded Treasure State Endowment Program (TSEP) provides matching grants for basic infrastructure projects including water, wastewater, storm drainage, solid waste, and bridges.
(b) the public facilities and the housing and neighborhood renewal categories of the federally funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program provide grants for water and sewer facilities for lower income communities or neighborhoods and special purpose public facilities that serve lower income clientele, including Head Start or senior centers, nursing homes, and mental health centers. CDBG housing-related projects include rehabilitation or weatherization of homes owned by lower income families and neighborhood cleanup and demolition of vacant, deteriorated properties.
(c) the Quality Schools Facility Grant Program provides funds to school districts through a competitive grant process. Grant funds may be used to address major deferred maintenance, energy efficiency, critical infrastructure needs, emergency facility needs, and technological improvements.
(d) the state-funded Community Technical Assistance Program (CTAP) provides technical assistance to local governments and their planning boards and zoning commissions, private sector developers, engineers, and consultants to encourage the development of well-planned and attractive communities to support the state's economic development efforts.
(13) Coal Board. The primary function of the Coal Board is to receive grant applications from local governmental units, state agencies, school districts, and federally recognized Indian tribes and to award grants to assist these local entities in meeting the impacts from an increase or decrease in coal development or in the consumption of coal by a coal-using energy complex.
(14) Hard-Rock Mining Impact Board. The Hard-Rock Mining Impact Board provides analysis and mediation between communities and hard-rock mining companies so that adverse impacts resulting from mining can be addressed and positively corrected.
(15) Montana Promotion Division. The division consists of the Montana Office of Tourism which markets the state as a vacation destination, the Film Office which markets the state as a motion picture and television commercial location site, the Tourism Infrastructure Grants Program, and other related programs.
(16) Tourism Advisory Council. The council advises the Governor and the department on significant matters relative to Montana's travel industry and tourism promotion. The council also oversees distribution of funds to regional nonprofit tourism corporations and to nonprofit convention and visitors bureaus, and encourages regional nonprofit tourism corporations to promote tourist activities on Indian reservations in their regions.
(17) Montana Heritage Preservation and Development Commission. The purpose of the Montana Heritage Preservation and Development Commission is to acquire and manage, on behalf of the state, properties that possess outstanding historical value, display exceptional qualities worth preserving, are genuinely representative of the state's culture and history, and demonstrate the ability to become economically self-supporting. The Montana Heritage Preservation and Development Commission achieves this purpose by purchasing fee title interests in real and personal property and by managing those properties in a manner that protects the properties and encourages economic independence.
(18) Information or Submissions. General inquiries regarding the department may be addressed to the director. Specific inquiries regarding the functions of each division may be addressed to the administrator of that division or the bureau chiefs under the division. All requests for hearings, declaratory rulings, and for participation in rulemaking may be addressed to the director unless the notice in the Montana Administrative Register makes specific provisions for submissions.
(19) Chart of Agency Organization. A descriptive chart of the Department of Commerce follows and is incorporated in this rule.