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Finally, legislators’ votes on the special session


It took a while to find this. It was buried under “Election Results” on the Montana Secretary of State’s website (also known as Corey Stapleton’s home page). Here are the votes:


Background: a few Republican legislators wanted to thwart Montana citizens’ right to vote on two ballot initiatives. At the bidding of tobacco and mining interests, Montana state Sens. Llew Jones and Scott Sales, along with others, tried to call a special session to sponsor their own version of Medicaid expansion and mining reclamation bills. The special session would also cost taxpayers $100,000+ a day.

Legislators were polled and the final vote was 71 against, 45 for. The proposed special session needed a simple majority —  76 out of the 150 legislators — to pass. Republicans hold the majority in the legislature 91-59. So obviously, a bunch of Republicans did not go for Jones’ proposal an no Democrats voted for the session. Thirty-four of the legislators didn’t vote at all.

The initiatives targeted in the special session were I-185 and I-186. The first would up the tax on tobacco products to continue funding Medicaid expansion, and the second would deny hard rock mining permits for mines requiring “perpetual treatment” of polluted waters.

This special session vote has flown under the radar. Why? Because even a lot of Republicans realized it wouldn’t play well in upcoming midterm elections. You won’t see many political cards or brochures saying, “Hey, I just voted to curtail your right to vote on two initiatives and at the same time spend taxpayer money on an unnecessary special session.”

That could be why Republicans, including SOS Stapleton, aren’t anxious to promote news of the failed attempt at a special session.

And please note that so-called small government, citizen’s rights, fiscally responsible Republicans like Jennifer Fielder, Jeff Essmann, Nancy Balance and Fred Thomas all voted for the special session. Again, here’s the link to check and see how your legislator voted.

UPDATE: James Conner at Flathead Memo went the extra mile and charted the votes by party, district and city, here.




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Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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