Big Sky Roundup

Move to adopt 2017 legislative rules fails on opening day

By: - January 5, 2021 6:29 am

The Montana Capitol in Helena, Montana. The building was built in 1899, and an addition completed in 1911. Eric Seidle For the Daily Montanan.

Despite promises of unity, House Republicans began drawing internal lines within an hour of the commencement of this year’s legislative session. In the midst of a vote to temporarily adopt 2019 House rules — a set of prescriptions modeled after Senate rules — Rep. Mark Noland, R-Big Fork, made a substitute motion to instead implement 2017 rules, which Republicans and some Democrats revised last session. 

The motion, which ultimately failed 42-58, would have restored the unilateral power to make committee assignments to the Speaker. It also would have increased the number of votes required to “blast” a piece of legislation to the floor to a supermajority of 60, rather than however many seats the majority holds — a compromise brought about by the 2019 rules. Rep. Brad Tschida, R-Missoula, who served as Majority Leader in the 2019 session, was a staunch critic of the new rules, and spoke in support of Noland’s substitute motion on Monday. 

“If we elect people to lead, why do we not let them lead?” he said. 

Newly elected House Speaker Wylie Galt, R-Martinsdale, was among the Republicans to vote against the substitute motion. The House ultimately voted to temporarily adopt the 2019 rules. 

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Arren Kimbel-Sannit
Arren Kimbel-Sannit

Arren Kimbel-Sannit is an Arizona-bred journalist who has covered politics, policy and power building at every level of government. Before getting his dose of northern exposure, Arren worked as a reporter in all manner of Arizona newsrooms, for the Dallas Morning News and for POLITICO in Washington, D.C. He has a special interest in how land-use decisions affect working-class people, which he displayed through reporting on the epidemic of pedestrian deaths in the U.S. for the Los Angeles Times and PBS Newshour. He's also covered housing, agriculture, the Trump presidency and more.