Following a move that killed — at least for Wednesday — a bill that would allow counties to choose a money-saving mail vote for the May special election to fill Montana’s empty seat in Congress, some Democrats are claiming the legislation was doomed to fail because of “partisan hijinks.” On Wednesday Rep. Virginia Court, a Democrat from Billings, tried to force a legislative committee to vote to advance Senate Bill 305, carried by Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls. The bill would allow counties to choose to conduct the May 25 election to replace former U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, who resigned to become Secretary of the Interior, by mail. The bill had not been scheduled for a vote by House Judiciary Committee Chair Alan Doane, R-Bloomfield.
In response to Court’s motion, Rep. Theresa Manzella, a Republican from Hamilton, brought a substitute motion to table the bill. That motion passed 11-8, on party lines.
Democrats on the committee said action was needed quickly because county clerks and recorders around the state need to prepare for the election and can’t do so without knowing the fate of the bill.
Later they said they would bring a motion to “blast” the bill onto the House floor, but that will not happen until Friday. Blast motions require 67 of 100 House members to vote to revive a bill that has been killed or stalled in committee.