Montana legislator chooses legislative leader

Most Republicans attended and masked, despite widespread outbreaks of the state-affecting coronavirus, as lawmakers gathered at the State Capitol on Wednesday to select leaders for the Montana Senate and House of Representatives. Was removed.

The Republican Party is heading for the 2021 session, with two-thirds of the two parties occupying the majority and Montana becoming the governor of the Republican Party for the first time in 16 years.

Senator Mark Brasdel of Kalispell was elected chairman of the Senate, replacing Senator Scott Sales, who was unable to seek re-election due to term restrictions.

Brasdel, acting pro tempore of the Senate in the 2019 session, was not challenged by the nomination process. He described the “incredible mission” given to the Republicans in the 2020 elections. There, party candidates won all state-wide races.

Martinsdale Republican Wylie Garut was elected Speaker of the House, stating that his goals were to maintain state spending, bring accountability to state bureaucracy, protect fetal rights, and protect gun rights. It was.

Senator Jason Ellsworth (Republican Hamilton) was elected pro tempore, and Senator Cary Smith (Republican Billings) was elected leader of the Senate majority.

“This is the first opportunity many of us had to work with the Republican Governor,” Smith said. “It’s up to us. We have all the offices.”

Ellsworth said one of the Senate’s biggest concerns was “what’s happening with COVID,” citing therapeutics, tests, contact tracing, and vaccines as priorities for protecting the elderly and the vulnerable. To grasp. “

Republican leaders will meet Greg Gianforte, the governor’s election, “immediately,” Ellsworth said.

“I think all our priorities overlap,” he said. “There is no real disconnect between the Governor’s priorities and our priorities.”

However, while many Republicans emphasized the broad mission given to the party in the elections earlier this month, Ellsworth said Republicans would reach across the aisle.

“It’s about continuing the message of unity, and carrying Democrats,” he said. “Everyone is sitting at the table.”

The House Caucus, in collaboration with a minority Democrat during the 2019 session, re-approved the expansion of Medicaid and passed Conrad’s Caucus, a conservative solution that passed the infrastructure bill. -Leaded by Congressman Jones.

Like most Republican colleagues, Ellsworth said that gathering in large groups without masks could increase the spread of the respiratory virus in Montana, which has a high number of COVID-19 cases. Despite warnings from health authorities, many hospitals, including Helena, who did not wear a mask during the cause session are burdened.

“Some people have the belief that they shouldn’t wear a mask, others do. I wear a mask where I think it’s appropriate,” Ellsworth said, and his son was virus-positive. When tested to be, he added that he had been quarantined for 14 days.

Lewis and Clark County health officials recommended that lawmakers hold a virtual meeting to elect their leaders due to the surge in the state.

All but three of the 30 Republican senators attended the caucuses directly, but two of the 67 members did not. Democratic caucuses met via an online platform, some of which met in the Capitol’s meeting room. The people in the conference room were sitting apart and wearing masks.

Democratic Senator Jill Cohenour and Rep. Kim Abbott have been elected leaders of the minority. Both are from Helena.

Abbott states that Democratic priorities will be to defend the expansion of Medicaid, fund education and infrastructure projects, and defend women’s choices.

She called the social distance between Republicans and the lack of masking “reckless.”

“We cannot participate in such recklessness,” said Abbott, who would consider legal action if Republicans do not comply with the COVID-19 Directive, which includes wearing masks in public. Added.


Samuels is a member of the Associated Press / US State Capitol News Initiative’s report corps. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in the local newsroom to report on unreported issues.

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Montana legislator chooses legislative leader

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