Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Montana politics, elections and legislative news

House Republicans Backtrack On Rule Empowering Committee Chairs To Block Hearings

Rep. Derek Skees, R-Kalispell, chair of the House Rules Committee, listens as representatives debate over an amendment to “blast” motion rules on Jan. 8, 2019.
Shaylee Ragar
UM Legislative News Service

Republican lawmakers in the Montana House backtracked Wednesday on a proposal to give committee chairs more power during the 2021 legislative session. The rule could influence which bills get a public hearing.

Rep. Derek Skees, a Republican from Kalispell, said that after receiving significant push back from the public and other legislators, Republicans in the House Rules Committee have decided to remove an amendment that would have given committee chairs, who are all Republican, discretion to kill bills before they get a hearing. 

"We as the Republican caucus never wanted to silence what the citizens wanted. That’s not the intent at all."

Skees said the intent of the amendment was to make policymaking more efficient. 

Democratic Rep. Robert Farris-Olsen thanked Skees for taking back the amendment, saying it was politically motivated. 

“The goal was to quash our ability to bring bills. That’s pretty concerning to me, and obviously it was concerning to the public, as well.”

The committee did not officially remove the amendment, and scheduled another meeting for next Tuesday, Dec. 22. 

Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or  
Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information
Related Content