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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Gov. Gianforte, lawmakers signal support for a special legislative session

Representatives applaud as the Montana House of Representatives adjourns for the 2021 session, April 29, 2021.
Montana Public Access Network
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Representatives applaud as the Montana House of Representatives adjourns for the 2021 session, April 29, 2021.

Montana Republican lawmakers signaled Tuesday they support holding a special legislative session. However, they haven’t agreed on the agenda once they arrive in Helena.

In a series of letters, Montana lawmakers and Gov. Greg Gianforte made clear this week they agree that a special session should be called to redraw the districts that represent residents on the state’s utility oversight board, the Public Service Commission.

The districts haven’t been redrawn since 2003, and the state is being sued over the imbalance of population in the districts in federal court. If lawmakers don’t redraw the districts, it could be left to a panel of three federal judges.

Gianforte wrote he’ll only call legislators back to Helena if enough state lawmakers can agree on a new PSC district map beforehand, and to focus the special session only on that issue.

Rep. Derek Skees from Kalispell is pushing for more. He’s gathering signatures in support of a session that also includes the creation of a special committee to investigate election integrity in addition to redrawing the districts.

In response, Republican legislative leaders said they need more clarification on Skees’request – how much the special committee will cost, what needs funding and the scope of the investigation.

A special session has yet to be called.

Shaylee is Montana Public Radio's Capitol reporter. She previously worked for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and covered the 2019 legislative session for the University of Montana's Legislative News Service.
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