1 more day: Legislature still without infrastructure bill

Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso, D-Butte, says the objective is for the Senate to leave by Friday afternoon.

By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA – As the Montana Legislature draws to a close, lawmakers are getting antsy to head home. But several issues, like how to pay for infrastructure projects, are still unsettled.

In the House Thursday morning, two attempts to adjourn “sine die,” failed. There have been four total attempts this week.

“It’s been real, it’s been fun, hasn’t been real fun, drinks are on me if, Mr. Speaker, I move to sine die,” said Rep. Wylie Galt, R-Martinsdale on the House floor. He was the first to make the motion Thursday.

This was after the House failed to advance a key infrastructure bill by two votes that would borrow money for projects – which leadership has locked horns on throughout the session. Rep. Mike Hopkins, R-Missoula, successfully brought Senate Bill 367 back for another vote Friday morning.

The House did advance several key bills Thursday, including a state employee pay plan and a school funding bill.

It also gave final approval to a bill that makes adjustments to the state budget and other bills that have already passed the Legislature. One of those adjustments is the so-called “ferrari tax” on newer vehicles that cost more than $150,000 will be a set at a flat rate of $825 rather than a percentage.

Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso, D-Butte, says the objective is for the Senate to leave by Friday afternoon.

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.