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Montana Legislature returns for final 45 days of 68th session



Helena, Montana – The Montana Legislature is returning to the State Capitol to begin the second half of their 68th session after a three-day transmittal break.

While the Senate only convened a brief floor session on Thursday, the remaining 45 days of the session got off to a fairly slow start. On Friday, the House will resume its regular session. But after that, the action will ramp up quickly.

Out of the 1,413 measures that have been introduced thus far, it looks that nearly a quarter—well over 300 general bills—failed to pass their first chamber by last Friday’s transmittal deadline, making them likely dead. But until the 67th legislative day, or in nearly a month, laws that appropriate money or increase or decrease state income must first pass through their first chamber.

The whole House Appropriations Committee, which is still working on House Bill 2, the primary state budget bill, held its only committee meeting on Thursday. The budget for the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services was the topic of discussion at the meeting and is by far the largest element of Bill 2.

To complete it before it receives a hearing on the House floor, committee leaders anticipate taking action on HB 2 next week.

Proposals to change the Montana Constitution, which also have a later transmittal date, will be discussed in the second half of the session. Currently, the Montana Legislature is considering six proposed amendments, including ones to add “constitutional carry” to the right to bear arms and modify the authority of the Montana Board of Regents in response to recent court decisions that restricted how the Legislature could pass laws affecting state college campuses. Further proposed amendments are prepared to be submitted.

To be included on the ballot for the upcoming general election, a constitutional amendment proposal needs to win approval from 100 lawmakers, or two-thirds of the Legislature. The 102-member Republican supermajority can introduce an amendment to the ballot if they all vote in unison.

Of course, before transmittal, the Legislature must also comb through the several policy proposals that did advance. There is a slew of legislation pertaining to zoning and housing availability among them, as well as ideas to alter the laws governing elections and the legal system and bills to start charter schools in the state.


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