Montana Public Radio

Ryan Osmundson

Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-HD 87.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Montana state lawmakers say the state government is flush with reserve cash as the COVID-19 pandemic creates economic uncertainty around the world. Analysts with the Montana Legislative Fiscal Division report the state’s level of cash reserves, currently sitting at $464 million, is relatively high compared to most years in the past.

State Sen. Ryan Osmundson (R) - Buffalo.
Corin Cates-Carney

Montana lawmakers have yet to find consensus about moving the state toward annual legislative sessions. Lawmakers debated the issue on Tuesday.

Montana and North Dakota are the only two states in the country with part-time legislatures that meet once every other year to approve a budget and pass policy. Instead of meeting once for 90 days every other year, state lawmakers are now studying whether to move to 45-day meetings every year.

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

Montana lawmakers are meeting for a week in January to study whether the State Legislature should meet every year.

Montana’s House and Senate currently meet for 90 days every other year. In 2019, the Legislature passed a bill to study meeting every year for 45 days.

Montana Senate
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

The $10.3 billion state budget is cruising through the Montana Legislature. It passed its first votes in the state Senate today.

Lawmakers Debate Cuts To Office Of Political Practices

Mar 30, 2015

Today at the Montana Legislature, state Senators discussed taking away a full-time attorney for the office of the Commissioner of Political Practices.

As written, the commissioner, Jonathan Motl, says the state budget would force him to contract out for an attorney, potentially costing more money for less experience.

Motl says his office may have more complaints due to the increased use of corporate money under the Citizens United ruling.

Governor's Plane Cut From State Budget

Mar 30, 2015
Montana Legislature

Governor Steve Bullock could be forced to rent a plane after Republican Representatives stripped his from the statewide budget earlier this month.

Today in the Senate, Republican Jim Keane of Butte argued that this is a bad, politically-driven decision.

“Why, you talk about fiscal responsibility, don’t you think that not allowing the chief executive of the state of Montana to have a plane is appropriate?”

Lawmakers Consider Cuts To Commissioner Of Political Practices Budget

Mar 5, 2015

Today at the Montana Legislature, Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl argued that state lawmakers need to fully fund his department or he won’t be able to prosecute politicians abusing the system.

Lawmakers are considering a cut of about $100,000 from the commissioner's proposed budget, including eliminating the prosecuting attorney.

“It takes away the only attorney in the state of Montana who is dedicated to enforcement of Montana’s Campaign Practice Act.”