Austin Knudsen, speaker elect of the Montana State House of Representatives, was on the phone most of the day Monday December 8, dealing with inquiries from media about a new dress code for state legislators that was announced last week. Knudson says he was surprised at the interest.

"I will preface this by saying that, had I known this much attention was going to come over a dress code, maybe I would have tried to put some important state legislation in this way and maybe it would have gotten some attention," Knudsen jested. "I am utterly shocked by how much attention this is getting. I'm hopeful that there is this much attention paid to substantive House legislation as there is to our dress code."

Some have tried to characterize the dress code as one that targets women unfairly, but Knudsen says he only gave his stamp of approval to the dress code after it was drafted by a female staffer.

"There is no plot here, Knudsen said. "The fact is that we have 30, 30-plus legislators who don't know what the expectations are for legislators on the house floor. I come from a legal background where you are expected to dress a certain way in a court room and I think that it is equally important to reflect that in the people's House in the state of Montana.

Knudsen says that many of the contentious sections in the dress code were taken in large part from a similar standard of dress required for legislators in the state of Wyoming.


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