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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana Governor Vetoes Bills On Abortion, Concealed Weapons

Gov. Steve Bullock.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service
Gov. Steve Bullock.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed a proposal that would bar doctors from performing late-term abortions and another that sought to allow lawmakers to carry concealed weapons in the Capitol and other state property.

The vetoes were among the seven his office announced Tuesday as he continued to sift through a pile of bills sent to him by now-adjourned lawmakers.

Bullock also signed 13 bills into law, including a measure that would require NorthWestern Energy to absorb at least 10 percent of the cost of obtaining electricity on the open market because of power plant outages. The measure by Rep. Tom Woods, D-Bozeman, had a tumultuous path through the Legislature amid intense lobbying against the bill by NorthWestern. The utility was ordered by the Public Service Commission to refund Montana ratepayers $8.2 million when it had to buy electricity after a 2013 outage of the Colstrip coal plant. NorthWestern is contesting the PSC's order.

The governor's veto of the abortion measure was expected, even though it was among the bills Republicans had hoped Bullock would sign in exchange for more Republican votes on a failed infrastructure bonding package.

In his veto message, Bullock said lawmakers should not interfere in "deeply personal medical decisions." The legislation, sponsored by Republican Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell, would have banned late-term abortions by requiring doctors to try to save the life of a viable fetus.

"If this bill were enacted, a woman could be subjected to forced caesarian section or inducement of labor if continuing her pregnancy after viability threatened her life — in violation of established legal precedent," the governor said.

In another key veto, Bullock rejected assertions that allowing legislators to carry concealed firearms would make the Capitol safer. He said current security measures, including the presence of Helena Police officers during legislative sessions, were adequate.

The governor also said the measure sponsored by Rep. Randy Brodehl, R-Kalispell, was too broad by allowing lawmakers to carry concealed weapons not only on Capitol grounds but also at other state facilities such as public college stadiums.

© 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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