Looks like we are close to getting a special session of the Montana Legislature.

I was in Glendive last week for the Glendive Agri-Trade Expo. While I was there I got the chance to catch up with several Eastern Montana legislators. A couple of them mentioned the idea of a special session of the legislature.

Why is a special session of the Montana Legislature needed right now? The bottom line is that a liberal federal judge is threatening to draw the boundaries of the state's Public Service Commission seats. And he could so as early as next month.

Rather than allow the precedent to be set for federal judges to redraw district boundary lines, lawmakers are looking at a special session of the legislature to conduct PSC redistricting. (More background on the debate here)

Some have argued that PSC redistricting should have been done during the last legislative session. However, the county level data from the 2020 Census wasn't available in Montana until last Fall, so why should they have rushed on redistricting last Spring? That's my take anyway.

Around a dozen lawmakers, including Rep. Derek Skees (R-Kalispell) are not only calling for a special session to deal with PSC redistricting they'd also like to see a special session that would create a select committee on election integrity in Montana.

Senate President Mark Blasdel (R-Somers) and Speaker of the House Wylie Galt (R-Martinsdale) responded to that call with the following letter: attachment-Leadership letter regarding special session call. In the letter, they asked a series of questions about what a select committee would look like and how it would be funded. They also touted the following election integrity achievements from the last session:

We are proud of the great work done on securing Montana’s elections in the 2021 session, which we
accomplished together working as a unified caucus. After years of obstruction from Democratic
governors, we successfully put in place numerous reforms to improve the integrity of Montana’s
elections, including:
-SB 169 creating a strong Voter ID law
-HB 176 ending same-day voter registration
-SB 170 cleaning up Montana’s voter rolls annually
-SB 93 allowing more poll watching
-HB 530 requiring the Secretary of State to adopt rules governing election security
-HB 651 creating more oversight on ballot initiatives

Governor Greg Gianforte (R-MT) responded to Speaker Galt and President Blasdel by making it clear that he would consider calling a special session, but only if the session were to focus solely on PSC redistricting.

Here's a copy of Governor Gianforte's letter. attachment-LETTER 220215 Blasdel, Galt MTLeg special session

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