By Blair Miller, Daily Montanan
Republicans in the Montana Legislature – where they currently hold a supermajority – want to change the makeup of interim legislative committees so the majority party has more power, which they say would simply reflect the will of voters.
Senate Bill 176, sponsored by Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, would make it so four-member interim committees would be comprised of three members of the majority party and one from the minority party. Larger committees would also have to reflect the composition of the legislature.
“If committee composition during a legislative session is weighted by election results, then the interim committee should as well,” Regier said. “Democracy should not end at sine die.”
Currently, interim committees are made up of an even number of Republicans and Democrats. But Regier said his bill would better reflect the results of the last election and give the minority party – currently Democrats – a better opportunity to spread lawmakers across interim committees so they are not overtasked.
The measure would apply to 13 different interim committees, Regier told the Senate State Administration Committee at the bill’s first hearing Monday.
Regier ran a similar bill in the 2021 session that died on a 22-28 vote in the Senate. He said he had taken administrative committees out of this year’s bill in hopes that it will clear the hurdle he said sank it two years ago.