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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Montana Lawmakers Debate Higher Interstate Speed-Limits

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The drive across Montana will be a little bit faster if a bill passed Thursday in the Montana House becomes law. The measure, already passed by the Senate, raises the speed limit on rural sections of Interstate highways from 75 to 80 miles an hour, matching the current limit in three neighboring states: Idaho, Wyoming, and South Dakota. 

Missoula Democrat Nancy Wilson argued against the change, because while cars and highways may have changed over the years, drivers have not.

"Their reaction time is the same. It has not gotten any better. In fact, it’s gotten worse. We now have all sorts of toys to distract ourselves with while we’re driving."

Kalispell Republican Steve Lavin supported it.

"I really think five miles an hour isn’t going to make a huge difference, but it’ll allow a little more freedom, a little trust in the people to do the right thing."

Besides increasing Interstate speed limits in rural areas, the bill also doubles the fines for highway speeding tickets. Originally it would have also raised speed limits on many state highways, but those changes were taken out.

The bill still needs final approval in the House and another vote in the Senate before going to the Governor for his signature.

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