Big Sky Roundup

Secretary of State: No special session to be held

By: - September 15, 2022 11:30 am

The Montana State Capitol in Helena (Photo by Darrell Ehrlick of the Daily Montanan).

The Montana Secretary of State’s Office said Thursday a special session will not be held in response to last month’s call for a gathering to distribute some of the state’s budget surplus, estimated then at $1.5 billion.

“With only 53 legislators replying affirmatively, a majority of the legislators (greater than or equal to 76) failed to approve the call for a special session as seen in 5-3-108, MCA,” said Richie Melby, spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office, in an email.

Last month, 10 Republicans signed a letter arguing that surplus tax collections belonged to the people of Montana and calling for a special session to handle reimbursements before the 2023 legislative session. However, other lawmakers have noted the budget reflects a massive infusion of federal dollars for Covid-19, and fiscal analysts have projected economic uncertainty ahead.

The results from the Secretary of State’s Office show 52 legislators voted to reject the call for a special session. At the close of polls 5 p.m. Wednesday, 105 legislators had voted, 74 members of the House and 31 members of the Senate.

It’s the second time this year a call for a special session has failed. In April, a bid from a faction of the GOP to hold a special session to investigate the security of the state’s elections also fell shy of the required minimum, with 44 of 150 legislators voting to approve it and 60 rejecting it.

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