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By Representative Mike Hopkins - R
House District 92 

Many unknowns in the home stretch

 

April 18, 2019



The Legislative Session is coming to an end. I have heard rumors that Republican and Democratic leadership are thinking we might be done by Easter but we hear that leadership wants us to be done early every session and it usually doesn’t work out.

The State Budget is now back in the House and should come up for a vote on the Senate’s amendments to the budget at the end of this week. Our next update on the revenue estimate will come on April 20th. Once we see the update, it will be our final look at the estimate before the end of the session and we will know whether we can agree to the Senate’s amendments or if we will have to risk sending the Budget to a conference committee to work out our differences.

The final piece of infrastructure legislation passed out of committee last week with a good vote and will be heard on the Senate Floor this week. It requires a two-thirds vote on the floor so it will need 34 votes to pass. I think the chances are pretty good that we will see it pass before we leave Helena but it is the Legislative Session so you can never be sure.

When you first elected me to represent you in the 2017 Legislative Session, a friend of mine who was a long-time legislator told me “Nothing is really dead until the Legislature leaves town.” Bills that have been “Tabled” in committees can be “Taken from the table” to be voted on again. Bills that have died on the House or Senate Floor can be “Reconsidered” to be voted on again and bills that have missed their transmittal deadlines and as such are “dead” can be reconsidered, passed and accepted by the other chamber by “Suspending the Chambers rules” which requires a simple majority vote in the Senate and a two-thirds vote in the House.

Even if a bill is as dead as a bill can be in the Legislature, a committee can amend the text of one bill that is “Tabled” into another bill that is still moving its way through the process as long as the new bills “title” includes language that can fit the old bill’s purpose. If that all sounds weird, it is, because it truly is.

Other than the State Budget, most of the large policy bills are still in the Senate, so it will be a long week for them. Medicaid Expansion will come up for another vote this week. The “Colstrip Bill” will run through the House this week. It isn’t really a Colstrip bill at all, it’s a transmission line bill, but putting the word Colstrip in a headline is more attention grabbing than “Transmission Line.” I will write more on this bill in my next update.

In any case I am looking forward to coming back home when the Legislative Session ends and plan to hold some town halls and come to Community Council meetings so we can all discuss these topics in more depth.

As always, thank you for allowing me to represent you in Helena!

 

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