Big Sky Roundup

Montana Legislature won’t hold special session with recent poll results

By: - April 20, 2022 6:34 pm

The stairs of the Montana Capitol in Helena, Montana (Photo by Eric Seidle for the Daily Montanan).

A special session won’t be held as a result of the outcome of recent polling of the Montana Legislature.

A tally by the Montana Secretary of State’s Office showed just 44 of 150 legislators voted to approve the special session by April 19, a total that did not meet the required threshold to call the session to order. Sixty legislators voted to reject it.

The Secretary of State’s Office said more than 50 percent of lawmakers needed to say yes to convene the session, 75 or 76 depending on whether a district was vacant.

“In any case, those voting to ‘approve’ fell well short under either scenario,” said Richie Melby, communications director for the Montana Secretary of State, in an email Wednesday.

He also noted that Montana Code Annotated 5-3-108 has a provision about what a failed poll means. The statute in part states that if a poll is not approved, “the entire process must be repeated to call the Legislature into special session.”

One month ago, a group of 10 GOP legislators interested in investigating the security of the state’s elections systems requested the Secretary of State conduct the poll. Not all lawmakers responded to the poll, but Democrats have been opposed to the effort.

Republicans who voted to reject the poll were the following: Rep. Frank Garner, Rep. Ross Fitzgerald, Rep. Wendy McKamey, Rep. Fred Anderson, Rep. Kerri Seekins-Crowe, Rep. Larry Brewster, Rep. Bill Mercer, Rep. Mallerie Stromswold, Rep. Sherry Essmann, Rep. Terry Moore, Rep. Becky Beard, Rep. David Bedey, Sen. Mike Cuffe, Sen. Brian Hoven, Sen. Russ Tempel, Sen. Mike Lang, Sen. Duane Ankney, Sen. Jason Small, Sen. Doug Kary, Sen. Tom McGillvray, Sen. John Esp, and Sen. Walt Sales.

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Keila Szpaller
Keila Szpaller

Keila Szpaller is deputy editor of the Daily Montanan and covers education. In Montana since 1998, she loves hiking in Glacier National Park, wandering the grounds of the Archie Bray and sitting on her front porch with friends. Before joining States Newsroom Montana, she served as city editor of the Missoulian, the largest news outlet in western Montana. She worked there from 2006 to 2020. As a Missoulian reporter, she was named a co-fellow by the Education Writers Association to report on a series about economic mobility; grantee of the Society of Environmental Journalists for a project on conservation from the U.S. to Africa; and Kiplinger Fellow in Digital Media and Public Affairs Journalism. She previously worked at the Great Falls Tribune and Missoula Independent, and she earned her master’s in journalism from the University of Montana. She lives in Missoula with her husband, Brock, who is also her favorite chef, and her pup, Henry, who is her favorite adventure companion. She believes she deserves to wear the T-shirt with this saying: “World’s most mediocre runner.”