Montana lawmakers pick leaders for legislative session

Montana lawmakers pick leaders for legislative session

New Senate President, Sen. Mark Blasdel, R-Kalispell, closes the republican senate caucus meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 at the Montana State Capitol in Helena, Mont. (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP) Lawmakers gathered in the state Capitol to pick leaders of the Montana state Senate and House Wednesday, with most Republicans in attendance and unmasked despite a growing coronavirus outbreak affecting the state. Republicans head into the 2021 session with a two-thirds majority in both bodies and Montana will have a Republican governor for the first time in 16 years. Sen. Mark Blasdel of Kalispell was elected Senate President, replacing outgoing President Sen. Scott Sales, who was prevented by term limits from seeking re-election. Blasdel, who served as Senate president pro tempore in the 2019 session, was unchallenged in the nomination process. He remarked on the “incredible mandate” given to Republicans in the 2020 election, where the party’s candidates won every statewide race. Republican Rep. Wylie Galt of Martinsdale was elected Speaker of the House, saying his goals remain holding the line on state spending, bringing accountability to state bureaucracy, protecting the rights of the unborn and protecting gun rights. Sen. Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, was elected president pro tempore while Sen. Cary Smith, R-Billings, was elected Senate majority leader. “This is the first opportunity many of us have had to work with a Republican governor,” Smith said. “It’s up to us. We hold all the offices.” Ellsworth said one of the Senate’s top concerns will be to “have a […]

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