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Montana Legislature fails to override 8 vetoes
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Montana Legislature fails to override 8 vetoes


The GOP-majority state Legislature has failed to override Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte's veto of eight bills passed with a two-thirds majority during the session that wrapped up in April.

Because the bills passed by that wide a margin, the veto polls were sent to lawmakers automatically. The vetoed bills were House bills 158, 277, 397, 522, 688 and 691, along with Senate bills 231 and 306.

To override the vetoes, the polls would have needed the support of two-thirds of the members of each chamber.

Gianforte vetoed 17 bills this session. Lawmakers overrode one of his vetoes, Gianforte's first, back in April.

One of the vetoed bills, SB 306 from Sen. Mike Lang, R-Malta, would have expanded the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission from five to seven members and required that three commissioners be agricultural landowners.

The concept of expanding the commission drew support during the Legislature, but SB 306 drew some concerns due to the landowner component.

In April Gianforte signed House Bill 163 from Rep. Paul Fielder, R-Thompson Falls. That bill moves the commission to seven members representing FWP’s seven administrative regions but does not define membership beyond the one agricultural landowner currently mandated by law.

HB 163 goes into effect in October, when the governor will appoint the additional members.

The other bills lawmakers were polled on include:

  • House Bill 158, sponsored by Rep. Caleb Hinkle, R-Belgrade, would have established a 14-member commission to investigate the state’s suspension of laws and regulations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, while appropriating $50,000 to fund the commission’s work;
  • House Bill 277, requiring state departments to create strategic plans and annual performance reports;
  • House Bill 397, establishing tax credits for workforce housing;
  • House Bill 522, creating an eight-member task force to advocate for the continued presence of military installations and facilities in the state;
  • House Bill 688, calling for an interim study of winemaking;
  • Senate Bill 231, which affects subdivisions and transfers of family land parcels.

— Reporter Sam Wilson contributed to this story.

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