2017 MT Legislature

The big state budget bill landed on Governor Steve Bullock’s desk Monday, one of the final acts of the 2017 legislative session, which was gaveled to a close Friday.

MTPR’s Capitol Reporter Corin Cates-Carney joins us for a look at what Montana lawmakers did and didn’t accomplish since convening in January.

The 2017 legislative session came to a chaotic end this morning. Democrats and Republicans fought until the final hour over funding long-term public works projects.

When the final gavel struck, Republicans leaders said they’re proud of their party’s unity and keeping government growth in check. Democrats also talked up their wins, but expressed frustration in being unable to accomplish their major goals.

Montana senators have started the clock on the final day of the legislative session, forcing a 24-hour limit on the political chess match over funding long-term construction projects in the state like water treatment plants, a state veterans home, and schools.

"We’re going to turn the hourglass over and say you got one more day. Let’s get it done,” said Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso.

Jackie Yamanaka

As senators who are both hitting their term-limits, Chas Vincent, R-Libby, and Mary Caferro, D-Helena, both agree that as a state with term limits, elected officials must understand and communicate with each other, not only in their own caucus, but across the aisle.

At the end of a legislative session defined by the state having less money than initially projected, lawmakers Wednesday negotiated a new budgeting system designed to protect the state against future revenue shortfalls. 

With state revenues down from slumping markets for oil, gas, coal and agricultural products, lawmakers spent most this session arguing over spending priorities in the state budget.

Jackie Yamanaka

Supporters of a bonding bill are working to turn 4 “no” votes to “yes” in order to advance Senate Bill 367 out of the House of Representatives.  Bonding is the last major issue remaining before the 2017 Montana Legislature.

Representatives gave Senate Bill 367 a preliminary 63-to-37 vote last evening. However, the bill will need at least 67 votes on its 3rd and final reading to advance it back to the Senate because of changes to the bill. Passage is expected to expedite the conclusion of the 2017 Legislative session. 


A bill to reform state campaign finance laws hit a snag on Monday when Senators rejected work by their peers in the House.

Billings Republican Tom Richmond says his bill to increase contribution limits and remove loopholes in state campaign laws passed with wide support, picking up all but two votes in the Senate in March, but is now at risk of being vetoed by the governor unless changed.

Jackie Yamanaka

Lawmakers wrapped up Day 85 of their scheduled 90-day Legislative session with no agreement reached on a bonding package.

That morning, 11 legislators sat down with Governor Steve Bullock, Budget Director Dan Villa and other staff in the Governor's Conference Room to talk about possibilities. Specifically, what would it take to reach the 67 votes needed in the House to pass a bonding bill.

Among the bills put on the table were those dealing with abortion and charter schools. House Minority Leader Jenny Eck, D-Helena, said if those bills were part of the deal, the Republican majority would lose Democratic votes, which could doom bonding.


Jackie Yamanaka

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives rejected an attempt to revive a bonding measure that would pay for public school building projects, university buildings on 3 campuses, and help the Southwest Montana Veterans Home break ground.

Representative Mike Cuffe, R-Eureka, offered a technical motion to suspend the rules to reconsider his House Bill 645. It failed April 6, 2017 to get the votes necessary to be transmitted to the Senate.


Legislature Passes $10.3 Billion Two-year State Budget

Apr 24, 2017

HELENA -- It’s been a long and arduous journey, but the $10.3 billion Montana state budget is now on it’s way to Democratic Governor Steve Bullock’s desk. Friday, the Republican-majority House of Representatives passed Senate amendments to the budget 58-41.

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