Legislative Update: Thursday, April 20

NB

Nancy Ballance

House OKs Senate budget amendments

By Cole Grant

The Montana budget needs just one more vote to get to Gov. Steve Bullock’s desk.

On Thursday, the Montana House of Representatives voted to agree with the Senate’s amendments to House Bill 2, or the state’s two-year budget.

Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-Hamilton, said communication with the Senate was key.

“We met with the Senate prior to them taking up any amendments,” she said. “Made sure they understood that we believe that budget was as complete as we could get it, and asked them to keep it within the bounds that we had set in filling the major holes, and that is exactly what they did.”

Minority Leader Jenny Eck, D-Helena, voted against the amendments.

“I think we need to start talking about this more clearly, and more regularly, and articulating the choices that are being made session in and session out to protect the super wealthy and out-of-state corporations at the expense of working people in the state,” she said.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

Political practices bill revived

By Freddy Monares

A bill that would increase the money state candidates can raise is one vote away from passing the Legislature.

Senate Bill 368 failed on a vote in the House earlier this week, but was brought back to life by Rep. Theresa Manzella, R-Hamilton, in the House on Thursday.

The bill would also require the now-independent Commissioner’s Office of Political Practices to report to the state’s attorney general. Manzella is carrying the bill in the House.

“What this bill does that we should all appreciate is that it brings transparency for all of us, it brings accountability for the COPP, as well as us,” Manzella said.

Rep. Zac Perry, D-Hungry Horse, said he was opposed to the bill because it would reverse a law passed in 2015  to remove “dark money” in Montana politics.

“We had a great moment in the last session with the Montana Disclose Act,” he said. “That was a great achievement by that body. I see this bill as an attempt to undermine that.”

The House passed the bill on a preliminary vote of 54 to 46.

Freddy Monares is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

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