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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Rule change opens the door for bipartisan cooperation at the Legislature

Rep. Ed Buttrey (R) - Great Falls
Corin Cates-Carney
Montana Public Radio
Rep. Ed Buttrey (R) - Great Falls. File photo.

Factions of Republican lawmakers split over a proposal to amend the rules that govern the state House of Representatives. MTPR’s Shaylee Ragar reports the change will be a tool for moderate Republicans and Democrats to work together.

Republican Rep. Ed Buttrey brought an amendment to lower the vote threshold needed to “blast” a bill out of committee so that it can be considered by the entire House.

Without a blast motion, bills can be stalled in committee and possibly die there. Buttrey’s amendment will lower the number of yes votes needed for a blast motion from 60 to 55. That’s still higher than a simple majority.

Buttrey says the change will give constituents more opportunity to have their voices heard.

“The body should have the ability to hear something as a whole if that’s what they decide to do.”

Democrats supported the change, saying the majority of lawmakers should have more power to consider bills before they’re killed in committees. The change means Democrats have more opportunity to find Republican allies to advance bills.

Republican Rep. Jerry Schillinger says the amendment defies the power granted to the GOP last election in which Republicans won supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature.

“This motion, these motions, are nothing but an attempt to neuter the voices of the people of Montana that have sent the conservative candidates to serve in the Legislature.”

The amendment passed in a House rules committee on a 12-10 vote with three Republicans joining Democrats in support of the change. Republican Representatives Ed Buttrey, David Bedey and Casey Knudsen voted with Democrats to approve the new rule.

The first hearings on bills for the 2023 session began Tuesday morning.

Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or  
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