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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Republican Infrastructure Bills Advance Through Montana Legislature

The Montana Capitol
William Marcus
Montana Public Radio

Several infrastructure bills are working their way through the Montana Legislature, but not the one proposed by the Bullock Administration.

The governor's infrastructure proposal, House Bill 5, is tabled in the House Appropriations Committee. The bills given initial approval in the House are the Republican crafted proposals. Basically they took a few of the projects vetted by the Bullock Administration and in House Bill 5. They were moved from that bill and stuck in separate bills, with many paid for with cash on hand. The exceptions are those that are traditionally funded through money generated from the coal tax trust. The bills up for floor debate Monday were given preliminary approval largely on party-line votes.

Over in the Senate, a bill that's been called a compromise, bipartisan measure was given overwhelming preliminary approval.

Senate Bill 416 is being carried by Republican Senator John Brenden, but he credits a number of Republicans, Democrats, and local government representatives for help in crafting this bill.

Sen. John Brenden (R) SD17
Credit Montana Legislature
Sen. John Brenden (R) SD17

"This bill to me isn't a perfect bill at all," said Brenden,  "but i realize there are 150 of us in the legislature and if we're going to get something done we're going to have to compromise and that's going to have to take a 2/3 majority in the Senate and the House and the Governor included to get something done."

Because of the bonding component in this bill, it will need this super majority vote.

Brenden says he doesn't think everyone likes everything in this bill but there's the desire to fund infrastructure. He says if successful everyone can take credit.

"Now is the time for us to get together in a bipartisan effort to something for the people of MT," Brenden said. "And I think they are demanding that we do something and what more do we need than infrastructure and creating jobs in MT."

Besides road, bridge, and water projects this bill also provides renovation for several University system buildings, this includes for UM's Clapp Science building, MSU's Romney Hall and Montana State Billings' Library. Other identified projects include the Eastern Montana crime lab and the Montana Heritage Center.

No one spoke against Senate Bill 416. It passed on a preliminary 47-to-2 vote. It faces a third and final vote before being sent to the House for consideration.

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