Last week I mentioned the ranking of study bills and how it hadn’t been done yet. It has now and my study bill for finding a better funding source for conservation districts was ranked number six which qualifies it for study during the session. Appointments to the study group have not been introduced but I believe I will be on that study group. More on that as it progresses through the interim.
The way bills are handled at the end of session and after is set in code. The Governor has 10 business days to sign, amend, veto or let it become law by not doing anything. That meant that Governor Gianforte had until the end of last week to act on bills or they would become law. He told me that he had vetoed only 14 bills of the more that 500 that made it to his desk. He also told me he called every legislator with a reason for vetoing their bill so it wouldn’t be a surprise to the carrier.
The last week of a session are always a challenge and this session was no exception. We refer to what was happening as game playing. A good example of what happened is when a bill gets tabled in a committee but another has a title that could be used. The tabled bill is added to the second bill that has a better chance of passing. This doesn’t cause a big problem if the carrier of the second bill is fine with it but this time it was done without the knowledge of the carrier and it was not well received. Fortunately, the bill ended up in conference committee and the amendment attaching the first bill was taken off. I find this way of doing things very unprofessional and do not condone it.
Another game is “I won’t vote for your bill if you don’t vote for mine”. If this were to succeed it could lead to a bad bill passing when it should have died. Again, not the best way to do business if you are there to represent all of the citizens of Montana.
As usual, HB 2 was one of the last bills to pass but this year it was done before the marijuana bills were sorted out so there was some game playing there as well. The final result was the one I favored but it was in question for a while on the last day. I will write more about the main bills of the session in future articles.
All in all, this was an excellent session. We got a lot of good things done for Montana but equally Important, we stopped many bad bills from getting passed. Over 300 bills were tabled in committees. That shows they were doing their jobs of vetting bills. I know that sometimes it seems your voices aren’t heard but believe me, they are. One thing everyone needs to understand is that for every person contacting us about an issue we get one with an opposing view.
If you want more information on the session or a bill, please contact me at Ken.firstname.lastname@example.org or text me at 951-6764. Thank you for the honor of representing you these past four sessions. It has indeed been a wonderful opportunity.