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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana House rules pass despite opposition from GOP leadership

Montana Capitol, Helena, MT.
William Marcus
Montana Public Radio
Montana Capitol, Helena, MT.

The Montana House of Representatives on Wednesday approved rules to govern the chamber’s work for the 2023 session, but many Republicans in the supermajority are not happy with the result.

Tensions over rules began brewing before the session started, and boiled over earlier this week when three Republicans on the Rules Committee voted with Democrats to make it easier to revive bills that stall in committee. That’s called a blast motion.

When the proposed rules reached the House floor for debate Wednesday, several Republicans spoke against the change to lower the vote threshold needed for blast motions.

Republican Rep. Jedidah Hinkle of Belgrade said the rule will give more power to Democrats and moderate Republicans.

“Every single one of you knows exactly what’s going on right now,” Hinkle said. “These rules are being used to manipulate this system and empower a small group of people by using the minority party for the votes.”

Republican Rep. David Bedey of Hamilton voted in support of the new rules. He said committees don’t always give proposed bills a fair shake and the full House should have the chance to debate those.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues to craft Conservative solutions to the needs of the state of Montana. But Montanans have other expectations of us, as well,” Bedey said. “And one of those is that rules of the political game ought to be fair.”

Bedey said past committee chairs have killed bills by scheduling hearings too late, or leadership sends bills to committees they know will be tough on the proposals.

Republicans hold a 68-seat majority in the House. The new rules passed on a 55-44 vote, meaning a dozen more-moderate Republicans voted with Democrats to pass them.

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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