By Rep. Nancy Ballance, HD87, Hamilton
Thank God that a group of Republican legislators has taken the initiative to rid the Montana House of Representatives of a 30-year supermajority experiment that has contributed to hyper-partisanship disdained by most of Montana’s citizens.
The Montana constitution defines only a few cases when a legislative supermajority vote is needed, for example, before spending trust funds, amending the constitution, or overriding a governor’s veto. Nowhere does the constitution suggest the legislature should adopt supermajority rules that limit debate and centralize power in the hands of a few.
Returning to a simple majority rule for bringing bills to the House floor, the same rule that is in effect in the State Senate, in no way undermines principles upon which our representative democracy was formed, but rather ensures that all voices are heard as the legislature conducts the people’s business.
The 60-vote supermajority rule for removing bills from House committees has in the past allowed a powerful few legislators, who have received “silver bullets” or have made secret deals, to get their bills out of committee. This insider politics needs to end!
It is time to bring fair and honest debate back into the process. Time to make the committees do their job instead of simply “killing” bills House leadership doesn’t like. Time to end the secret deals and bring transparency back into the process. Time to go back to the simple majority rule for bringing bills to the floor of the Montana House and ensure all Montanans are represented as promised by our state’s constitution.