Veto-override polls under way for at least eight bills

Posted at 4:36 PM, May 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-21 19:54:46-04

HELENA — State lawmakers are voting, by mail, whether to override Gov. Steve Bullock’s vetoes of at least eight bills, on subjects ranging from sports gambling to business tax credits to campus free speech.

If a bill is vetoed after the Legislature adjourns, lawmakers are polled, by mail, on whether they want to override the veto — but only if the bill had support from at least two-thirds of the Legislature’s members on the bill’s combined final votes.

To override the veto and make the bill law, at least two-thirds of each house of the Legislature must vote to override. It takes 34 votes in the Senate and 67 votes in the House to override a veto.

Secretary of State Corey Stapleton’s office is conducting the veto-override polls. It said Tuesday that the final day for submitting ballots is in mid-June, depending on the specific bill and when the override ballot was sent out to Montana’s 150 legislators.

Stapleton’s office listed the bills Tuesday — but a state senator from Missoula told MTN News that he received a veto-override ballot for an additional bill that is not eligible for a poll: House Bill 332, which received only 85 total votes on its final tally, well short of the required two-thirds.

HB332, would require county approval to relocate wild bison in the county. Bullock vetoed the measure May 7.

Sen. Bryce Bennett, D-Missoula, who provided a copy of the HB332 ballot to MTN News, wondered if any other ballots had been sent out improperly.

Stapleton’s office said the override ballots for HB322 were sent out mistakenly, and would not be counted.

Here are the bills with a veto override poll, and the deadline for returning the ballot:

• Senate Bill 71, sponsored by Sen. Al Olszewski, R-Kalispell, to regulate insurer contracts with pharmacy-benefit managers. June 14.
• SB239, by Sen. Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, creating a property-tax abatement for newly installed high-speed broadband. June 14.
• SB266, by Sen. Mark Blasdel, R-Kalispell, creating income-tax credits for businesses hiring new workers. June 14.
• SB330, by Blasdel, legalizing sports gambling in Montana. Bullock signed a separate bill that creates sports betting under the state Lottery. June 11.
• House Bill 262, by Rep. Bill Mercer, R-Billings, directing the deposit of funds from lawsuits alleging unfair trade practices. June 18.
• HB394, by Rep. Greg Hertz, R-Polson, revising property-tax appraisal and appeal process. June 18.
• HB482, by Rep. Alan Doane, R-Glendive, requiring state-agency reports on assistance to tribal governments. June 18.
• HB735, by Rep. Mike Hopkins, R-Missoula, providing protections for free speech on college campuses. June 14.