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Montana Legislature votes to adjourn, 68th Session comes to a close

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Posted at 5:51 PM, May 02, 2023

(UPDATE, 9:55 pm) The Montana House of Representatives has wrapped up its work for the 68th Session and voted to adjourn at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 3.

The late Tuesday event came after a packed day in the House with floor session starting at 8:00 a.m. At 9:14 p.m. representatives voted 89 to 7 to adjourn for the session.

Earlier in the evening the House concurred with Senate amendments to House Bill 2, the primary budget bill, meaning Montana has a budget for the next two years.

The Montana Legislature by law is required to complete their work in 90 working days. Tuesday marked the 87th day of the 68th Session which is the latest in the year the legislature has been in session the since at least 1999, the earliest MTN could find records for.

The House concluded its business by recognizing the 15 members who had termed out of the chamber.

Between both the House and the Senate, 1698 bills were introduced with more than 740 being passed.

(1st REPORT, 5:35 pm) The Montana Senate has adjourned for the 68th Session on a tight bipartisan vote, with most Senate Republican leadership voting against the motion.

The motion was brought by Senate Minority Leader Pat Flowers, D-Bozeman, with President Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, expressing concern that the House had yet to pass the State Budget. But as Sine Die, the vote to adjourn, is a nondebatable vote it went to the board for the body to decide.

The final vote saw 10 Republicans join all the Senate Democrats to pass the motion 26-24. Since the Senate is adjourned, the House will need to concur with or reject the Senate’s amendments to the main budget bill, House Bill 2. If they do not, a special session will need to be called to address the budget.

While disappointed with the vote, Senate Majority Leader Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls, said he’s confident the House will be able to complete the work remaining for the legislature and is proud of the work his chamber has been able to accomplish.

“Oh, I think we had a great session. I mean, in terms of what we've been able to accomplish as Republicans have been tremendous. I mean, we have passed so many good bills. It's really been a successful session,” Fitzpatrick told MTN.

Flowers told MTN he felt Democrats were able, even with the Republican supermajority, were able to make an impact this session.

“Well, I think all things considered, we were able to exert influence on some of the key issues, and we did not get everything we wanted or anything close to it,” Flowers told MTN. “But I think we were able to steer on some issues and kill some bad bills. And obviously, a lot got through that we weren't happy about. But that is the nature of having 16 out of 50 in the Senate.”

The fate of several bills remains in question with the Senate adjourned, meaning only the House can take action on legislation.