Montana House lowers threshold to move bills from committee
(Daily Montanan) Representatives finalized their rules of order for the 68th Montana Legislature Wednesday after some debate and a handful of failed amendments.
HR 1 passed, 57-42, cementing the rules that were heavily debated during Monday’s Rules Committee meeting. In order to “blast” tabled bills to the floor, they have to receive 55 votes, a slightly higher threshold than a simple majority but lower than the previous metric of three-fifths, or 60 votes.
Rep. Jedediah Hinkle, R-Belgrade, and Rep. Larry Brewster, R- Billings, proposed amendments that would have upped the 55- vote threshold, and both failed.
During discussion, Rep. Steven Galloway, R-Great Falls, said the bar should be high to get bills out of committee due to the high volume of legislation that gets put on the floor. He said legislators often don’t have time to go through all that’s put before them.
Rep. David Bedey, R-Hamilton, said that Montana voters wanted conservative solutions, but that constituents also expect that the political process be fair.
Hinkle said that the argument that it would be too difficult to get 23 Republicans to vote for Democratic-proposed legislation was “bogus,” pointing to the vote on his amendment that had failed by 26 votes.
“Every single one of you knows exactly what’s going on right now. These rules are being used to manipulate this system and empower a small group of people — using the minority party for the votes,” Hinkle said.
Minority Leader Rep. Kim Abbott, D- Helena, followed Hinkle’s comments by asking the body to refrain from accusations about minority-party views or accusations about different members being dishonest or lying.
Abbott proposed an amendment on electronic voting that also failed.
The House will reconvene at 1 p.m. on Thursday.