Bill to increase barriers for third parties on the ballot resurrected, then dies on House floor
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A Senate bill to increase requirements for third party candidates to get onto a primary ballot was taken off the table in committee, passed and then failed on the House floor.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Greg Hertz, R-Polson, would have increased signature requirements for third parties to get on the primary ballot and would require a $15 signature gathering fee prior to circulating the petition.
Senate Bill 565 was taken off the table in House State Administration on Thursday morning. The committee considered taking the bill off the table earlier this week, but following a caucus without a quorum that press was not allowed to observe, Chair Rep. Julie Dooling, R-Townsend, withdrew her motion to take it off the table.
The bill got out of committee, although Rep. Greg Frazer, R-Deer Lodge, and Rep. Courtenay Sprunger, R-Kalispell, joined Democrats in voting against it.
Rep. Denise Baum, D-Billings, who sits in House State Administration, spoke to the times the bill died and was amended, including an amendment to add the signature fee so it could pass a deadline as a revenue bill.
Rep. Kelly Kortum, D-Bozeman, another House State Administration committee member, said this was a big change to the election system at the 11th hour, and this was an idea that should be studied before it’s considered by the body.
Dooling said on the floor that both Republicans and Democrats have used third parties as “weapons” in elections to take votes from their opponents.
The bill failed 60-39.
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