Jonathan Ambarian

HELENA (KPAX) — An attempt to call a special session of the Montana Legislature to address tax-related issues has fallen short.

On Friday evening, the Montana Secretary of State’s Office released the results of a poll of lawmakers. 55 voted in favor of holding a special session on Jan. 15 – short of the necessary 76, a majority of the Legislature.

Sixty-seven lawmakers voted against the special session, and the remaining 28 didn’t return their ballots before the deadline of 5 p.m. Friday. Fifty-four Republicans supported the special session proposal, along with one Democrat. But 31 Republicans and 36 Democrats opposed it.

Last month, the Montana Freedom Caucus – a group of staunchly conservative Republican lawmakers – announced its members were making a formal request to call a special session focused on tax relief. They proposed four pieces of legislation, including two that would have limited school equalization mills in order to slow increases in property taxes, and another two intended to return state surplus revenue to taxpayers.

While this effort failed, it still came closer than any other proposal to hold a special session since then-Gov. Steve Bullock called one in November 2017.

Last year, 53 lawmakers supported calling a special session to provide tax rebates, and 44 backed a proposal to call one to set up a special legislative committee on election security. In 2018, 45 members voted to hold a special session to respond to two proposed ballot initiatives.

Gov. Greg Gianforte has announced plans to set up a task force on property taxes, with the goal of providing recommendations for lawmakers in time for the next regular legislative session in January 2025.