This report provided to KGVO News by Madeline Beck with the University of Montana School of Journalism.

Friday at the Montana legislature, Republican Representative Art Wittich of Bozeman tried the unprecedented move of trying to force his bill to the House floor single-handedly.

Earlier in the session, many argued how large of a majority of the 100 representatives it should take to force a bill to the House floor. But Wittich tried to do it himself on the grounds that the committee he sent his bill to wouldn't even listen to it.

“I needed to do something because the committee chairman would not hear the bill.”

This bill he wants heard, House Bill 462, would allow employers to decide whether to make employees pay union dues and would also make union participation voluntary.

This motion didn't pass, but Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Hunter says the committee now plans to hear Wittich’s bill Monday. However, Hunter says Wittich, himself, is being unfair by not hearing the Governor’s bill on Medicaid expansion.

“Medicaid bill that sat on his committee for close to a month before it was scheduled while other bills were being heard within about 4 or 5 days. So, there was clearly a premeditated act on his part to keep the Governor’s bill from being heard in a regular fashion.”

The Medicaid bill will have a longer time to be heard with a deadline at the end of March and Wittich’s bill would have died within the week.

But now Wittich’s bill will be heard Monday, and the Medicaid expansion bill continues to wait, scheduled to be heard March 6.

Many fear that the later the Governor’s Medicaid expansion bill is brought, the less chance it has to be amended and ultimately passed.

The legislative session resumes on Monday in Helena.

Madeline Beck - UM School of Journalism

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