HELENA — The Montana House of Representatives on Thursday passed new rules on how bills will be handled this legislative session. The rules, which were controversial even before the Legislature convened on Monday, passed 88-to-12.
Both parties welcomed some new adoptions, like changing committee members with a majority vote and a quick turnaround for introduced bills to enter committee.
Rep. Ed Buttrey, R-Great Falls, said the new rules would strengthen committees and lawmakers’ ability to represent their constituents.
“We’ve ensured the voice of every Montanan has a chance to be heard,” Buttrey said.
House Minority Leader, Rep. Casey Schreiner, D-Great Falls, said he was disappointed in the 58 votes required to blast a bill out of committee. Democrats had asked for a simple majority -- or 51 votes -- to bring bills out of committee and to the full House for debate.
Overall, however, Schreiner said he was satisfied.
“While we didn’t get everything, we’ve also got more than we’ve ever gotten. They’re the most protective rules for the minority that actually represent the will of the people of Montana,” Schreiner said.
Tim Pierce is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.