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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana Lawmakers Reject Special Session For Campaign Finance Rules

Montana House of Representatives.
Montana Public Radio
Montana House of Representatives.

Montana lawmakers have rejected a call for a special legislative session by a group of Republicans who want to raise campaign contribution limits.

Ten Republicans filed a request with the Secretary of State’s office just over a month ago calling for a special session. It was in response to a federal judge ruling in May that Montana’s current contribution limits approved by voters in 1994 were unconstitutional.

That means pre-1994 limits are now in effect. Some lawmakers, like Billings Senator Cary Smith, had a problem with that. They think the 1994 limits are still too low. Smith says it was worth the effort to call for a special session, even if they failed to get enough votes to make it happen.

They got only got 20 votes, and needed 76, or just over half of Montana’s 150 lawmakers.

"Well, for me individually it was more of a statement. I know the standard is high to call a special session, and that we will be back in session in 2017 and be able to work on this issue."

Smith expects the future direction of Montana’s campaign finance laws to be heavily influenced by who sits in the governor's seat next year.

The winner of gubernatorial race appoints the Commissioner of Political Practices, the state's top political cop charged with the enforcement of ethical campaign practices.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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