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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Leaders set the tone as the Montana Legislature convenes

 Montana House reps are sworn in on the first day of the legislative session, January 2, 2023.
Ellis Juhlin
Montana Public Radio
Montana House reps are sworn in on the first day of the legislative session, January 2, 2023.

The 68th Montana Legislature is underway after lawmakers on Monday swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. Party leaders made speeches on the House floor setting the tone for their work.

This session starts with a notable $2 billion budget surplus and Republican supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature.

Republican House Majority Leader Sue Vinton encouraged unity in her party, which in recent years has seen infighting between conservative and moderate members.

"To the members of the Republican caucus. We must remain steadfast in working together to achieve the conservative mandate that our voters and Montanans have sent us here to accomplish."

With their supermajority this session, the GOP has the numbers to send constitutional referendums to voters and pass major policy, without support from Democrats.

House Minority Leader Kim Abbott called on Republicans to recognize the responsibility that comes with holding a supermajority in the Legislature and the Governor’s office.

"And where we disagree and we think that your policies aren't meeting the needs of our constituents, we're going to hold you accountable."

The Legislature has 90-days to complete its work and pass a balanced budget.

Montana Public Radio’s Shaylee Ragar contributed to this report 

Ellis Juhlin is MTPR's Rocky Mountain Front reporter. Ellis previously worked as a science reporter at Utah Public Radio and a reporter at Yellowstone Public Radio. She has a Master's Degree in Ecology from Utah State University. She's an average birder and wants you to keep your cat indoors. She has two dogs, one of which is afraid of birds.
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