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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

House Reverses Course, Votes To Close MDC

Montana House chambers.
William Marcus

The Montana House has reversed course, voting late this afternoon to close the Montana Developmental Center over the next two years.  The bill had been defeated yesterday, but was brought up again today with an amendment that gives families of MDC’s clients more input, as well as studying new uses for the Center’s campus in Boulder.Missoula Democrat Ellie Hill still opposed the closure, because she says there’s no guarantee that community based programs will accept the 50 clients now treated at MDC.

"The bottom line is with these facilities, there is a certain segment of the population that nobody wants.  These private care providers don’t want them. The private care providers said that they would not commit to taking all 50 of these clients."

But Democrat Bridget Smith of Wolf Point said closing the developmental center would force state officials to find a suitable alternative.

"I think that we need to vote yes in order to put the process in place to find the solutions."

The bill passed with 12 more “yes” votes than it got yesterday. It’s still several steps away from becoming law. The bill sets a timetable for finding alternatives to the state-run center before shutting it down completely by mid-2017.

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