Senate Bill 1 is given a second life in the House

The long awaited infrastructure bills hit the House floor, Wednesday.

Republicans on a Montana House panel voted Wednesday to kill a bill allowing counties to choose to use only mail ballots in the May 25 special congressional election. "As we load more and more into this bonding bill, the chances of it passing gets less and less".

Many Republicans were not happy that they walked into the House chamber with a bill that was significantly more expensive than the one that cleared second reading.

Opponents of the bill included Republican Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, the state's chief election officer, and some Native American officials and tribal members, who said many Native Americans don't have mailboxes and that requiring them to mail a ballot could make it harder for them to vote.

House Bill 645, in its original form, authorized $33.4 million in new state debt to finance the school, water and sewer projects, mostly in rural areas of the state.

A recently released revenue estimate forecast the state will take in $106 million more than expected over the next two years.

"My concern is getting this bill passed", said Rep. Mike Cuffe, R-Eureka. "I'm going to resist all amendments to HB645 today".

The House then endorsed the amended bill on a 56-44 vote, but it needs at least 67 votes to pass on a final vote, possibly scheduled for Thursday.

Senate Bill 346 would create the Montana Optional Retirement for Employees Savings Program.

The Senate on Thursday moved to send its proposal to the House on a 34-16 vote, the minimum two-thirds margin required.

  • Julie Sanders