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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Legislative Fatigue Sets In On Bonding Bill

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

An attempt failed Monday at the Montana Legislature to revive a bonding measure that would pay for university buildings on three campuses and more.

It was a technical motion – suspend the rules to reconsider House Bill 645. It failed April 6th to get the votes necessary to be transmitted to the Senate.

House Speaker Austin Knudsen reminded the chamber this motion would need a 2/3rds – or 67 votes.

“Has every member voted. Does any member wish to change his or her vote? If not the clerk will record the vote. Mr. Speaker 57 representatives have voted aye; 43 have voted no. Motion fails,” he said.

Afterwards, Knudsen said there is one project in the House Bill 645 that’s giving Republicans “heartburn.”

“Romney Hall. Yep. It’s definitely Romney Hall,” he said.

That building is on the MSU campus. Higher education officials want to remodel the building into more classroom space. Knudsen said it’s more than just Romney, it’s also the cost of the package to borrow money.

Still he said the Republican majority is willing to sit down and negotiate.

“Honestly, I think the ball is in the governor’s court. We’ve been having some discussions with him. Met with him this morning. We met later in the week last week,” he said.

Knudsen said the issue isn’t dead. Three reporters went to the Governor Steve Bullock’s office for a statement. The Democrat happened to walk into the reception area.

“To talk about the bonding bill. Bonding. I’ve got nothing to say right now,” he said.

Bullock said he had been in meetings and wasn’t aware of the House vote.

“Knudsen says the ball is in your court. How low are you willing to go? Look I’ve been in meetings in other things,” he said.

Bullock turned and left. A staffer said he wasn’t available for comment and that the office would issue a written statement later.

After the motion to reconsider the House’s bonding bill failed, Representative Mark Noland stood made the motion that the House Sine Die, while that motion failed. It was a sign Representatives are getting weary and want to go home. Monday was the 84th day of the 90-day session.

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