Montana Public Radio

Fred Thomas

Montana lawmakers on June 9 formed a bipartisan working group to consider the possibility of a remote 2021 legislative session. Legislators also sparred over the importance of wearing face masks during physical meetings amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Sen. Fred Thomas On Deregulation, Term Limits And Three Decades In The Capitol

Jan 22, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas (R) - Stevensville
Mike Albans / Montana Public Radio

Last week, state lawmakers gathered in Helena for the first-ever Legislative Week, a five-day series of training sessions, interim committee meetings, and social gatherings aimed at maintaining connections between legislators during the 20-month break they typically take between legislative sessions.

Gov. Steve Bullock is joined by Rep. Mary Caferro, a Democrat from Helena, and Rep. Ed Buttrey, a Republican from Great Falls, and other lawmakers for the signing of HB 658, May 9, 2019. The bill reauthorizes the state's Medicaid expansion program.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

New work and public service requirements for certain Medicaid expansion enrollees were signed into state law Thursday.

Gov. Steve Bullock signed a bill to continue and change the health coverage program for low income adults, during a crowded ceremony in the east wing the state Capitol.

Montana Capitol building.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

The Montana Legislature passed 375 bills before it adjourned late last week. Gov. Steve Bullock must now decide which of them he will sign or veto.

At an end of session press conference Bullock sounded pleased.

“Dang near every proposal that I asked this legislative body to seriously consider will be making its way to my desk." he said.

The House chamber at the Montana Legislature.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

The Montana Legislature adjourned Thursday, sending a $10 billion state budget to Gov. Steve Bullock’s desk. Republican and Democratic leaders say their parties each picked up political wins and loses.

The two Republican Majority leaders in the House and Senate struck different tones in their final messages of the 2019 legislative session.

Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas (R) - Stevensville
Mike Albans / Montana Public Radio

The bill to continue Medicaid expansion in Montana passed out of the state Senate Tuesday after teetering on the edge of a deadline for end of session negotiations.

The reauthorization of the health coverage program for low-income adults, packaged with new work and public service requirements for certain enrollees, passed 28-22 in its final Senate vote.

Updated and expanded 6:40 p.m.

A bill to continue Montana’s Medicaid expansion program has passed a critical vote in the Senate by a one vote margin. The  26-24 vote Monday afternoon lifted House Bill 658 from its multi-day stall ahead of a Tuesday deadline for bills to pass. That means the bill faces one more Senate vote Tuesday.

Montana Senate
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

The Montana Legislature is running out of time to pass a bill to reauthorize Medicaid expansion before a deadline early this week.

The window for the Medicaid expansion bill to pass out of the Senate closes Tuesday.

On Saturday, Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso, a Democrat from Butte, attempted to bring that bill, HB 658, up for a debate on the Senate floor.

Sen. Duane Ankney (R) - Colstrip.
Mike Albans / Montana Public Radio

The bill to reauthorize Medicaid expansion in Montana failed to pass today when the state Senate locked in a 25-25 tie.

Republican co-sponsors of the policy are withholding their support in a play for leverage over other political goals, including the passage of a controversial bill aimed at keeping the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip running.

Today's action at the state Legislature notched up tension over one of the 2019 legislative session’s biggest debates. This morning a group of conservative Republicans voted to stall in a committee the bill to continue Medicaid expansion in the state.

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