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MT House's $78 million infrastructure bill revived – what’s it m - KRTV.com | Great Falls, Montana

MT House's $78 million infrastructure bill revived – what’s it mean?

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Four big projects in revived building bill Four big projects in revived building bill
HELENA -

In a surprise move, the Montana House has kept alive its version of the bill to fund additional building and infrastructure projects, through $78 million of new state debt.

The House voted Saturday 64-34 to reconsider a Friday vote that killed the measure, leaving it now in a sort of legislative limbo – but still alive.

Supporters of the Saturday gambit said it had “nothing to do” with the closeness of Friday’s vote, when the House fell only two votes short of passing House Bill 645.

Yet that Friday vote had to be encouraging for bill supporters – who know if they can scrape up another two votes and pass HB645, the measure could be on a fast track to the governor’s office, enabling lawmakers to complete a major piece of the budget and political puzzle needed to wrap up the 2017 Legislature.

HB645 would authorize the state to issue $78 million in bonds, to finance 50 school maintenance projects, scores of smaller sewer, water and other local projects all over the state, three big buildings projects on college campuses in Bozeman, Billings and Great Falls, and a new veterans’ nursing home in Butte.

Because it issues new debt, the bill needs a two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate to pass.

The House voted 65-35 on Friday for the bill, two votes short of the two-thirds majority. Saturday’s reconsideration vote means another vote can be held, but as of Sunday, another vote on the House floor had not been scheduled.

If two more House members vote for the bill sometime this week, HB645 would advance to the Senate.

At least two-thirds of the Senate would have to vote to suspend its rules to accept the bill, because a deadline for transmitting the bill has passed – but two-thirds of the Senate already voted to approve a very similar bill last week.

If the Senate wants to get infrastructure finished, it’s hard to imagine it rejecting the House bill.

Senate approval would send the measure on to Gov. Steve Bullock for his signature – and it’s hard to imagine him rejecting it, either, as he’s been calling all session for lawmakers to get the infrastructure bonding bill finished.

About Mike Dennison

MTN Chief Political Reporter Mike Dennison joined MTN News in August 2015 after a 23-year career as a newspaper reporter covering Montana politics and state government. While some may believe that politics are boring, Mike firmly believes that's not the case if you tell the story with pizzazz and let people know why the story is important.
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