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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

House Democrats Work To Keep Medicaid Expansion Alive

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus
Montana Public Radio

Democrats in the Montana House are fighting to keep a Medicaid expansion bill alive. Tuesday morning the bill goes before the same committee that killed a previous Medicaid bill.

Democratic leader Chuck Hunter has decided to use one of his party’s six “silver bullets” on House Bill 405, the compromise bipartisan Medicaid proposal. That means if the House Human Services Committee tables the bill, the full House can “blast” it to the House floor with just 51 votes, instead of the usual sixty.   But a silver bullet can’t save a bill if the committee gives it a “do not pass” recommendation. Then it still has to get sixty votes to reach the House floor.

Lee Newspapers is reporting that Hunter informed House Speaker Austin Knudsen that the Human Services Committee may not vote “Do not pass” on this bill, as they did on the last one, because he’s given it “silver bullet” status. 

Art Wittich, the Republican chair of the Human Services Committee, doesn’t see it that way. Wittich says his committee can do whatever it wants, regardless of whether Democrats have given the bill “silver bullet” status.

The two parties have clashed over House rules several times since this session began.  They may be headed for another rules fight when the legislature re-convenes on Tuesday.

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