Republicans Propose Raising the Bar to Pass Some Legislation
Some Montana lawmakers want to make it more difficult to transfer cash out of the state's fire suppression fund after $30 million went to shore up the state budget in 2017, just before Montana experienced its most expensive fire season ever.
That bill and another measure to restrict tax increases would require a two-third vote of the Legislature, instead of the simple majorities now needed.
Democrats argue the bills could limit the government's ability to respond to the next financial crisis.
House Speaker Greg Hertz is sponsoring the bill on the fire fund.
"I went after that bill because in '17 I think we all realize we made a poor choice of taking $30 million out of the fire fund," the Republican said.
The House Natural Resources Committee heard the bill Monday.
Rep. Zach Brown, a Democrat, argued the bill wouldn't have prevented that $30 million transfer in 2017 because it was approved by more than two-thirds of the Legislature.
"Going forward this will at least let us stop and pause," Hertz said.
Earlier this month, the House passed a bill to require a two-thirds vote before implementing any new or increased tax or fee.
"This just kind of forces us to live within our means, just like every Montana family," Hertz said.
Hertz and tax bill sponsor Forrest Mandeville said the bill would not prevent tax increases. It gets a hearing in the Senate Taxation Committee Thursday.