Legislature at midpoint: 50 bills signed into law, 500 await

About 300 bills have been either been tabled or have died so far in both the House and Senate. About three times as many bills have been introduced in the 2017 Montana Legislature.

By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA – There’s a break on the horizon for lawmakers in Helena, with about 50 bills signed into law so far, and over 500 still in the process.

Former lawmaker and now lobbyist Bob Gilbert of Sidney says after the transmittal break, which happens halfway through every 90-day session, he expects a good bit of concentration on money.

“Taxation bills, appropriations bills, anything that raises revenue. Or costs revenue,” he said.

At this point, all general bills that don’t deal with revenue must have passed either the House or Senate, or they automatically fail. Revenue bills have until March 30th.

The state budget, infrastructure, and healthcare have all been big topics this legislative session. The budget, which is facing a shortfall, has lawmakers divided, often on party lines, on how to balance it.

Last Friday, the Senate adjourned for transmittal break. Sen. Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, addressed the Senate at the end of a nearly nine-hour session.

“We will not be on vacation, many of us go back to work, and trudge back into our lives that we were at and continue on,” he said.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to break for transmittal on Wednesday.

About 300 bills have been either been tabled or have died so far in both the House and Senate. About three times as many bills have been introduced in the 2017 Montana Legislature.

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.