Standard view: Downing is right on need for bounty-hunter reforms

FEBRUARY 22, 2022

We have been generally impressed by Troy Downing’s performance as state auditor and insurance commissioner.

In his handling of multilevel sales companies, his backing of the federal No Surprises Act and outreach to healthcare consumers who could be helped by it, and his call for reforms of Montana’s cabin-site sale program are all small but important indications of a public official who takes his job of protecting Montanans seriously.

But even more encouraging is his full-throated advocacy for reforms to Montana’s Wild West approach to regulating bail bondsmen and bounty hunters. His strong voice on this issue is timely, important, and right on the money.

A man was killed in Butte last December during a botched bounty hunt that should never have occurred. For a bounty hunter — in this case, a convicted felon allegedly working off his own bond debt — to join a bondsman and barge into a home full of people, resulting in a fatality, is an outrage and a clear sign that Montana urgently needs to regulate these activities.

The Montana Standard’s Mike Smith reported thoroughly on this case, and his work points up the need for regulatory reform.

Kudos to Downing for speaking out on this issue. Next, the Legislature must act. We believe this is a high priority for the coming session, and we hope Butte’s delegation will lead the way to get bondsmen and bounty hunters under control in this state.