MTPR

Jenny Eck

Gov. Steve Bullock reacts to failure of bonding bill during a press conference at the Capitol, April 28, 2017.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

The 2017 legislative session came to a chaotic end this morning. Democrats and Republicans fought until the final hour over funding long-term public works projects.

When the final gavel struck, Republicans leaders said they’re proud of their party’s unity and keeping government growth in check. Democrats also talked up their wins, but expressed frustration in being unable to accomplish their major goals.

Budget Stabilization Plan Outlines State's Response To Future Revenue Shortfalls
Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

At the end of a legislative session defined by the state having less money than initially projected, lawmakers Wednesday negotiated a new budgeting system designed to protect the state against future revenue shortfalls. 

With state revenues down from slumping markets for oil, gas, coal and agricultural products, lawmakers spent most this session arguing over spending priorities in the state budget.

Lawmakers Sit Down With Governor To Talk Bonding

Apr 25, 2017

Lawmakers wrapped up Day 85 of their scheduled 90-day Legislative session with no agreement reached on a bonding package.

That morning, 11 legislators sat down with Governor Steve Bullock, Budget Director Dan Villa and other staff in the Governor's Conference Room to talk about possibilities. Specifically, what would it take to reach the 67 votes needed in the House to pass a bonding bill.

Among the bills put on the table were those dealing with abortion and charter schools. House Minority Leader Jenny Eck, D-Helena, said if those bills were part of the deal, the Republican majority would lose Democratic votes, which could doom bonding.


Contentious Budget Bill One Vote From Passage At Montana Legislature

Apr 20, 2017
Rep. Nancy Ballance is the primary sponsor of the budget legislation.
Mike Albans

The state’s main budget bill is one vote away from going to the governor’s desk. Majorities in both the House and Senate have now agreed on it and some of its companion spending bills.

For the first time in recent memory, the state's main budget bill won't go to a joint House-Senate conference committee to hammer out any more deals. 

Montana 'Bathroom Bill' Killed In Legislative Committee
(PD)

A Montana legislative panel has rejected a bill that called for a statewide vote on whether to bar transgender people from using bathrooms and locker rooms that don't match their gender at birth.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 11-7 against the bill today. It is likely dead, though it could be revived if enough votes flip in the committee or if a majority of representatives blast it to the House floor.

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

The search for nominees to be Montana’s next top political cop ended this afternoon during a short meeting of legislative leaders.

The majority and minority leaders of the Montana House and Senate approved Jeff Mangan, a former Democratic legislator who owns a consulting firm in Great Falls, to join the Commissioner of Political Practices nominee list.

New Republican Infrastructure Proposal Hits A Speed Bump

Mar 22, 2017

House Democrats say they won’t support a new House Republican infrastructure proposal that would issue bonds to pay for rural water, wastewater, some road and school projects.

When it comes to infrastructure at the Montana Legislature even a simple matter over whether there were negotiations on the topic is up for dispute.


Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

Montana could see as much as $106 million in additional revenue come into the state than was previously unexpected. But lawmakers are approaching this news with some caution as they create the state’s budget.

The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Division is projecting the additional revenue to flow into state coffers over the next three years, as the state recovers from a dip in earnings after a decline created, in part, by lower sales of coal, oil, and gas. 

Montana House of Representatives.
MTPR

The state's biennial budget will get its first debate on the House floor Thursday, the next round of legislative struggle over the state's lighter-than-hoped-for pocket book, which came up short of initial projections largely because of declines in state revenue from sales of coal, oil and gas.

After a first round of spending cuts and denials of spending increases, late last week a Republican controlled committee passed a budget that Governor Steve Bullock is calling "unacceptable."

The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess

State legislative leaders are no longer taking applications for the job of Montana's top political cop. They've now started the process of selecting the next commissioner of political practices.

In a meeting this morning, four Montana House and Senate leaders discussed  how to move forward in replacing current Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl, whose term ended in January.

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