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Effort To Save Colstrip Retirement Bill Fails

Coal with the town of Colstrip in the background
Amy Martin
Coal with the town of Colstrip in the background

An attempt to resurrect legislation written to aid the city of Colstrip when parts of the coal-fired power plant there shut down, failed a long-shot vote Tuesday afternoon.

Democratic Representative Jim Keane pressed lawmakers to blast Senate Bill 338 onto the House Floor for debate after it failed to pass out of a committee last week on a tie vote.

The bill sponsored by Colstrip Republican Duane Ankney seeks compensation from the owners of the power plant to secure the social and economic future of the town, when the two older coal-fired electricity generators shut down, by 2022 at the latest.

“If any bill this session needs to be heard on the floor, that’s the bill that does,” Keane said.

But opponents to the bill say it forces companies to pay an exit tax to leave Montana and creates an unfriendly business climate in the state.

The attempt to blast the bill on the House floor for debate fell 20 votes short of passing.

The Colstrip Retirement Act is now stalled, likely dead, in the House, after passing with wide bipartisan approval in the Senate.

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