For many years the topic of annual sessions has been widely discussed in the Montana Legislature and it was even done during the first session following the new constitution implemented in 1972. The idea was quickly changed by a vote of the public and it hasn’t been tried since.
During the 2019 session it was again discussed and indeed a bill was passed to study the idea during the interim. A steering committee was appointed to give some direction to the process. I was appointed to this committee as a leader in the Appropriations Committee. We had our first meeting via a conference call on Friday November 15th.
Several issues to work out were presented but it wasn’t intended to be a decision meeting. Some of the issues I brought up included the increased cost of annual sessions, how annual sessions could adversely affect the time for the staff to do the background work they do to allow us to get our work done in 90 days, being able to get special staff needed to fill all the necessary positions during a session, how would we be able to do our approps work in sub committees needed to set the budget for all the departments in State government, would we sine die after each session-this would kill any bills not acted on during the session, would this require a constitutional change or could it be done with legislation, and many more.
As you can see, we are a long way from bringing this forward and implementation. This will require a major overhaul of the legislature-which may not be a bad thing but it needs to be completely thought out before we take the giant leap. One thing that will be done is a study of how other states do annual sessions and if we could implement some of their ideas.
I would appreciate any input you care to give. I’m currently very hesitant to go forward with the idea since so many questions need to be addressed. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 951-6764 or even in the grocery store if you wish. Thank you for the honor of representing you in Helena and I will keep you advised of anything big happening during the interim.