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Montana lawmakers fail to override four Bullock vetoes, including prescription-drug cost bill

Posted at 12:05 PM, Jun 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-14 14:05:51-04

HELENA –  Four vetoes from Gov. Steve Bullock will remain in place after Montana lawmakers failed to get enough support to override them.

Secretary of State Corey Stapleton’s office released the final results Friday of veto-override polls on the four bills.

If the governor vetoes a bill 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. To make the bill law, at least two-thirds of each house of the Legislature must vote to override.

The closest vote came on Senate Bill 71, sponsored by Republican Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell. The bill, strongly supported by State Auditor Matt Rosendale’s office, was aimed at reducing prescription drug costs by putting restrictions on pharmacy-benefit managers. However, Bullock vetoed it, arguing it could actually increase costs for consumers by increasing administrative costs for insurers.

62 representatives and 29 senators voted to override Bullock’s veto on SB 71 – short of the 67 votes it needed in the House and 34 it needed in the Senate. The bill originally passed the House 71-27 and the Senate 37-13.

The three other bills were farther from winning approval:

Senate Bill 239, from Sen. Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, creating a property-tax abatement for newly installed high-speed broadband, received 52 votes in the House and 27 in the Senate

Senate Bill 266, from Sen. Mark Blasdel, R-Kalispell, creating income-tax credits for businesses hiring new workers, received 52 votes in the House and 25 in the Senate

House Bill 735, from Rep. Mike Hopkins, R-Missoula, providing protections for free speech on college campuses, received 56 votes in the House and 28 in the Senate

Jonathon Ambarian – MTN News