The 67th session of the Montana Legislature has come to an end. In the final days, the body passed policies to regulate and tax marijuana sales, spend $2 billion in federal stimulus funds and budget state spending over the next two years.
The 2021 legislative session started under historic circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic created a public health crisis and economic concerns. Montana Republicans came in after winning 10 more seats in the elections, making their majority ironclad, and a Republican governor would hold the executive office for the first time in 16 years.
The Legislature ended its session 10 days ahead of their 90-day deadline.
Republican lawmakers met the mandate they say voters gave them by cutting roughly $140 million in tax revenue, passing socially conservative bills to restrict access to abortion and regulate transgender rights, and restricting the powers of local public health and the executive during an emergency.
The Republican majority proved powerful in steamrolling priorities from the other side of the aisle, but Democrats were able to advance policies to expand broadband access in Montana and successfully pushed-back bills targeting unions.
Although lawmakers have finished their work, the fate of many bills is still up in the air as they move to the governor's desk for consideration.