Montana State Legislature

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Montana State Legislature

Seal of Montana.jpg
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   2 terms (8 years) in Senate, 4 terms (8 years in House)
2015 session start:   January 5, 2015
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Senate President:   Debby Barrett (R)
House Speaker:  Austin Knudsen (R)
Majority Leader:   Matthew Rosendale (R) (Senate),
Keith Regier (R) (House)
Minority Leader:   Jon Sesso (D) (Senate),
Chuck Hunter (D) (House)
Members:  50 (Senate), 100 (House)
Length of term:   4 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Art V, Sec. 2, Montana Constitution
Salary:   $82.64/day + per diem
Last Election:  November 4, 2014
25 seats (Senate)
100 seats (House)
Next election:  November 8, 2016
25 seats (Senate)
100 seats (House)
Redistricting:  Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission has control
The Montana State Legislature is the state legislature of the state of Montana. It is composed of the 100-member Montana House of Representatives and the 50-member Montana State Senate.

The Montana Constitution dictates that the legislature meet only on odd numbered years, and for 90 day periods. However, the Legislature did meet annually briefly from 1973 to 1975. The primary work of the legislature at these times is to pass a bi-annual budget which must then be approved by the Governor.

As of April 2015, Montana is one of 19 states that is under divided government and is therefore not one of the state government trifectas.

See also: Montana House of Representatives, Montana State Senate, Montana Governor


Article V of the Montana Constitution establishes when the Legislature is to be in session. Section 6 of Article V states that the Legislature is to meet in every odd-numbered year in a regular session of at most ninety legislative days. However, Section 6 allows any Legislature to increase the limit on the length of any subsequent session. Section 6 also allows for the Legislature to meet in special session when convened by the Governor of Montana or when a special session is requested by a majority of the Legislature's members.


See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions

In 2015, the Legislature is projected to be in session from January 5 through late April.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2015 legislative session include Medicaid expansion, funding for preschool programs, infrastructure, charter schools and the Flathead Water Rights Compact.[1]


See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature did not hold a regular session.


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 7 to April 27.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included economic development, increased natural resource development and reforms to how the state funds education.[2]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Legislature was not in regular session.


In 2011, the Legislature was in session from January 3 through April 28.[3]


In 2010, the Legislature was not in session.[4]


The 61st session of the Montana legislature convened on January 5, 2009 and adjourned on April 25, 2009.

Role in state budget

See also: Montana state budget and finances
Montana on Horizontal-Policypedia logo-color.png
Check out Policypedia articles about policy in your state on:

The state operates on an annual budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[5][6]

  1. Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in early August of the year preceding the start of the new biennium.
  2. Agencies submit their budget requests to the governor in early September.
  3. Agency hearings are held in September.
  4. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature in November.
  5. The legislature typically adopts a budget in April. A simple majority is required to pass a budget. The biennium begins July 1.

Montana is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[6]

The governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget proposal. Likewise, the legislature is legally required to pass a balanced budget.[6]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Montana was one of 11 states that made rare use of cost-benefit analyses in policy and budget processes.[7]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[8] According to the report, Montana received a grade of B and a numerical score of 86, indicating that Montana was "advancing" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[8]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Montana was given a grade of C in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[9]

Montana state legislature and initiative rights

In May 2007, Montana Senate Bill 96 (2007) became law. SB 96 restricts initiative rights by making it illegal for a person who does not live in Montana to ask a Montana voter to sign an initiative petition. The new law also makes it illegal to pay a person anything of value based on how many signatures that person collected.


Each member represents an average of 19,788 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[10] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 18,044.[11]

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 21
     Republican Party 29
Total 50

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Montana State Senate from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Montana State Senate.PNG


Each member represents an average of 9,894 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[12] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 9,022.[13]

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 41
     Republican Party 59
Total 100

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Montana State House of Representatives from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the Montana State House.PNG


See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Montana legislature are paid $82.64/day. Per diem is $105.31/day.[14]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Montana legislators assume office the first Monday of January following the election. If a senator is elected to fill a vacancy, the term of service begins the day after the election.

Party split

Since the beginning of statehood for Montana, the Legislature has been split along party lines fairly consistently and evenly. Since adoption of the new state constitution in 1972, which mandated single-member legislative districts for the first time in the state's history, the Montana Senate has been controlled by Democrats in 10 sessions, and Republicans in 10 sessions. During the same period of time, the Montana House has been controlled by Democrats in 11 sessions and Republicans in 9 sessions. There have been several ties between the parties in each chamber. However, in such an instance, control goes to the party of the sitting Governor according to Montana law.

Following the 2010 elections, Republicans took a 34-seat majority in the House and a six-seat majority in the Senate.


Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Montana
Partisan breakdown of the Montana legislature from 1992-2013

Montana State Senate: From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Montana State Senate for seven years while the Republicans were the majority for 15 years, including the last five years.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Montana State House of Representatives: From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Montana State House of Representatives for one year while the Republicans were the majority for 17 years, including the last five years.

Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Montana, the Montana State Senate and the Montana House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Montana state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

To read the full report on the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) in PDF form, click here.

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Montana state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Montana had Republican trifectas from 1995-2004. Montana's lowest SQLI ranking, finishing at 41st, occurred during those Republican trifectas, from 1999-2001. The state's two highest rankings came in the final five years while under divided government.

Chart displaying the partisanship of Montana government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).


See also: Article XIV, Montana Constitution

The legislature can put a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on the ballot, according to Section 8 of Article XIV. Any member of the legislature can propose an amendment. The amendment must then be adopted by an affirmative roll call vote of two-thirds of all members of the legislature.

Joint legislative committees

See also: Public policy in Montana

There are six joint appropriations subcommittees between the House and the Senate:

See also

External links