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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana's 2023 legislative session resumes Thursday

A photo from above shows lawmakers seated in the Montana Legislature House chamber.
Nick Mott
Montana Public Radio
Lawmakers seated in the Montana Legislature's House chamber.

This year’s legislative session resumes Thursday. After a few days off following the halfway point, Montana lawmakers are reconvening in Helena.

Last week lawmakers pulled several long days with all day floor sessions to meet the transmittal deadline, where bills without appropriations need to pass out of their original chamber.

Speaker of the House Keith Regier, from Kalispell, said that after sending their first round of tax relief bills to the Governor, Republicans will be focused on how to best spend what remains of the state’s over two and a half billion dollar budget surplus.

“We have a huge amount of surplus, we have more than enough money to take care of infrastructure and the needs of the states,” Regier said. “And there still could be some leftover to still send back.”

Over 800 bills met the transmittal deadline and will be considered by the other chambers in the upcoming weeks. The legislature must also continue working on the state’s next two-year budget.

Democrats are also focused on what to do with the state’s surplus, although they have different priorities for the spending. House Minority Leader Kim Abbott, from Helena, said she hopes to see lawmakers focus more on problems like nursing home funding, and mental health resources.

“We have a generational opportunity right now to invest in real problems in our communities, in childcare, affordable housing and things that we're hearing from businesses every day,” Abbott said.

Eighty six bills have been passed by the Legislature so far this session.

The 2023 Montana Legislative Session is approaching the halfway mark, and while some lawmakers are used the transmittal break to return home, the hosts and reporters of The Session podcast came together live to discuss everything that’s transpired under the dome thus far and answer listener questions.

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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