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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Montana House Moves Forward Spending Plan For Coronavirus Relief

The Montana House Tuesday endorsed a state spending plan for $2 billion in federal coronavirus aid.

House Bill 632 offers a wide-ranging framework for how the state will spend the bulk of its stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. House lawmakers gave the policy initial approval by an 86-14 margin.

Kalispell Republican Rep. Frank Garner said the bill will positively benefit Montana for years to come.

“What we get to do with this bill is provide an opportunity for our families to be successful in the future. My kids and yours,” Garner said.

Before giving an initial vote of approval, lawmakers amended the bill to boost regional water authority grant spending, direct more local government aid to rural areas and institute grant performance monitoring.

House Republicans voted down several Democrat-sponsored amendments, including two that would’ve provided $1,000 stimulus payments to essential workers and diverted an additional $20 million toward housing assistance.

Republicans also stood behind a provision allowing the state to cut local government grants by 20% if they have stricter coronavirus-related regulations than the state.

HB 632 faces another vote in the House before moving to the Senate, where it will likely see further amendments.

Kevin Trevellyan is Yellowstone Public Radio's Report for America statehouse reporter.

Copyright 2021 Yellowstone Public Radio

Kevin is a UM Journalism graduate student and reporter for MTPR.
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