MTPR

Scott Sales

Montana Senate President Scott Sales.
Mike Albans

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The president of the Montana Senate is asking the attorney general for an opinion on whether Gov. Steve Bullock illegally allowed the state to purchase a $6.1 million conservation easement on an eastern Montana ranch without approval from the state Land Board.

State law requires the Land Board to approve "land acquisitions" worth more than $100,000.

A vote count released Monday morning on the proposed special session of the Montana Legislature shows the call is not possible without votes from both sides of the aisle.

Republicans are so divided on the proposed special session that it won’t happen without support from the Democratic minority.

Montana Senate President Scott Sales, left, and House Speaker Austin Knudsen, both Republicans, are on opposite sides of the call for a special session
Corin Cates-Carney


Montana lawmakers have a little less than two weeks to decide whether to come back to Helena for a special legislative session, potentially the second in eight months.

“It’s going to be a very heavy lift to get the 76 votes,” Senate President Scott Sales said.

Cash register.
(PD)

Late last year Montana lawmakers carved about $170 million from state spending. That led to big cuts – for example, the state health department lost 4.5 percent of its budget, which slashed critical services for some of Montana’s most vulnerable.

Would a new revenue source, such as a sales tax, help prevent future budget crises?

Montana Capitol dome, Helena.
William Marcus

A Republican-led legislative committee is investigating state settlements paid out to public employees under the administration of Democratic Governor Steve Bullock. The Special Select Committee on State Settlement Accountability held its first meeting via phone conference Wednesday.

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