Montana Public Radio

Greg Hertz

Montana lawmakers are working out plans for what their 2021 session will look like and there’s still plenty up in the air, like whether they’ll be required to wear face masks.

Legislative staff have explored whether local or state health rules, like Gov. Steve Bullock’s statewide mask mandate, apply to legislators in the Capitol building. Staff told lawmakers during an interim planning committee meeting Monday that there’s no clear answer.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock today said the state’s finances are in a “historically strong position” heading further into the COVID-19 pandemic. State officials are still working with incomplete information about the pandemic’s economic impacts.

Estimated FY 2020 Montana budget balances.
Montana Legislative Fiscal Division

A letter drafted by the Montana speaker of the House asks Gov. Steve Bullock to consider reducing government spending over concerns about declining state revenue.

The draft will be discussed by the legislative Revenue Interim Committee next week as state leaders continue to crunch the numbers of the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic in Montana.

Listen now on Campaign Beat: A state legislator stands by his calls for violence against 'socialists.' Montana's two senators split their votes on impeachment. Democrats running for governor are down to two candidates. The AG race has a new twist. And did Barack Obama urge Gov. Bullock to change his mind about a Senate run?


Montana Republican leaders are asking their colleague to step down from his state House seat after he made “inflammatory and deeply disturbing comments” at a party event last weekend. But the Billings lawmaker says he won’t resign.

Rep. Dale Mortensen (R) - Billings
Montana Legislature

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana Republican lawmaker Rep. Dale Mortensen has died.

State House Speaker Greg Hertz confirmed Mortensen's death Wednesday, The Billings Gazette reported.

The Billings Heights three-term lawmaker was first elected in 2014 and was 53, officials said.

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 bill to continue Montana’s Medicaid expansion will move to the state Senate for a vote.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

The bill to continue Montana’s Medicaid expansion, and add work requirements for some recipients, cleared the state House Saturday, and will now be taken up by the Senate.

Leadership in the conservative majority opposes the bill by Great Falls Republican Ed Buttrey. But unanimous backing from Democrats and a block of Republicans gave it enough support to advance to the Senate.

Fisheries biologists checking for adult invasive mussels.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

State legislators are considering giving counties greater powers for managing aquatic invasive species.

House Bill 402 would allow counties to adopt local ordinances aimed at preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, levy taxes for vertebrate and invertebrate pest management and allow counties within the Columbia River Basin to quarantine lakes.

Montana House of Representatives.
MTPR

Montana’s 2019 legislative session is at the halfway point, and lawmakers will now break for a week as policy bills are transferred between the House and Senate.

During the first 45 days, the Legislature signed off on a $77 million K-12 school funding package, reached an apparent compromise on long fought-over infrastructure spending, and started laying the foundation for the next state budget.

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