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Montana House, Senate Disagree On Adjournment

Montana House chambers.
William Marcus
/

The House today fell one-vote short of the supermajority needed to give final approval to the last major remaining infrastructure bill before lawmakers.Then the House voted to adjourn for the session.

But the Senate refused to accept the House’s request, so lawmakers will have to come back for at least one-more day.

Representatives had only one piece of business before them Monday morning.

"Mr. Speaker," the House clerk read this morning, "Senate Bill 416 introduced by Brendan. A bill for an act entitled to Provide for Statewide Infrastructure"

House Speaker Austin Knudsen replied, "Senate Bill 416 having been read three several times. The question is should the bill be passed by the House."

Knudsen the called for a vote, "Those in favor vote ‘aye’ those opposed vote no. Has every member voted? Does any member wish to change his or her vote? If not the clerk will record the vote.

The clerk then said,  "Mr. Speaker 66 Representatives have voted aye; 33 have voted no."

Knudsen then observed, "motion has failed. Senate Bill 416 has failed to pass the House."

That’s because the bill needed a supermajority vote because of the bonding component.

Minority Leader Chuck Hunter then made a motion for the House to suspend its rules and vote again on this measure that afternoon. It failed.

So Representative Mike Miller, a Helmville Republican, rose to offer another motion.

"Mr. Speaker," Miller said, "86 days ago this legislative session started. Some would say we’ve been living the dream. For some its been a dream come true. For others its been a nightmare. But it’s time this dream comes to an end. With that Mr. Speaker I move that the House in the 64th Legislature per House Rule 50-250 adjourn Sine Die."

Miller's motion passed. But because this was only the 86th Legislative Day, in order to bring this session to a close the Senate had to agree to the request.

Senator John Brendan, a Republican from Scobey, spoke against the Senate accepting the request.

"We need to have one more chance and one more day," Brendan said. "It’s a matter of whether you’re going to get something or nothing and it’s either my way or the highway. And you know Lazarus was resurrected, if you believe in the Bible. I think and I’m a positive person, and I think there can be a resurrection again."

That’s even though his compromise infrastructure bill had already failed 4 times in the House.

The Senate was scheduled on Monday to debate House Speaker Austin Knudsen’s infrastructure bill for Eastern Montana, take a third and final vote on a House Bill to provide for renewable resource bonds and loans, and wait for the House’s final action – up or down - on Senate Bill 416.

After the House’s actions earlier in the day, Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso asked Senators to delay their agenda one more day.

Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Moore spoke in favor of that saying it would give lawmakers one more day to work on this issue.

"I think another 24 hours, and nobody wants to get home more than I do, if we’re in our same position we’re in no worse off than we are now," Moore said. "We just burned another 24 hours but I’m dedicated to making every effort I can to get something done and complete our work."

The Senate rejected the House’s request to adjourn Sine Die and agreed reconvene Tuesday morning at 7:00 – bringing with them the House.

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