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Montana House Passes Bill Requiring Two-Thirds Vote For Taxes Increases

The House chamber at the Montana Legislature during the 2019 session.
Nick Mott
Montana Public Radio
The House chamber at the Montana Legislature.

The Montana House narrowly approved a bill Monday to make it harder for state lawmakers to raise taxes.

The Republican majority advanced House Bill 148 despite a handful of their party joining Democrats in opposition.

The bill would require two-thirds support of the Legislature to increase or create new taxes.

"This bill does not prevent tax increases," says Forrest Mandeville, a Republican from Columbus, who is carrying the bill.

"What this bill will do is is encourage bipartisanship and better policy if we do increase taxes or fees," he says.

Democrats say the bill does not put the same threshold on cutting taxes, and could threaten state finances.

Zach Brown, a Democrat from Bozeman, says the policy will make it harder for the state to pass a balanced budget if there is fierce disagreement within the Legislature over tax proposals. 

"What this bill ultimately does is strangle our authority as a Legislature to govern. We tie our own hands," Brown says.

The bill to place a hurdle in front of new or higher taxes cleared the House on a 53-46 vote. It now moves to the Senate for committee debate. 

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