Two bills in the state Legislature that would increase transparency in Montana politics are dead in committee after Republicans voted them down. It was a 4-3 party line vote last Friday in the Senate State Administration Committee with Republicans using their majority to defeat SB 86, which was introduced by state Sen. JP Pomnichowski, D-Bozeman. The bill’s intent is to provide the public with instant access to campaign finance reports and shine light on attack ad campaigns, Pomnichowski said. Electronic reporting is mandated by 36 states, according to the National Institute of Money in State Politics.
During the panel’s brief discussion before voting, Bozeman Republican Sen. Jedediah Hinkle said he is “old school” and voted no because he does not want to increase candidates’ stress.
“I don’t even have a smartphone. I just have a simple TracFone. I like hard copies. I like paper documents,” Hinkle said. He expects future generations of candidates to voluntarily file electronically.
The committee chair, Sen. Dee Brown, R-Hungry Horse, said she used the online reporting system herself and encouraged other candidates to use it, but she voted no because she does not think it should be mandatory.