Hello, again from seat # 27 in the House of Representatives!
The second week of the legislature is traditionally very slow and this session hasn't proven to be any different. The normal legislative process, defined by the rules we passed last week, requires that all bills be introduced to the House via a 'First Reading' before they can be assigned to their respective committee for a public hearing. In turn, these public hearings require 72 hours notice before they can be legally undertaken. Each of these processes, all of which were designed to promote transparency, requires a fixed amount of time and the net result is a slow ramp up of committee work.
Even though this session began with a record number of bill draft requests (over 3100) more than half (approximately 1700) of these requests are simply placeholders. A placeholder is nothing more than an empty bill with a title broad enough that it gives a legislator the flexibility to react to a late arriving constituent's request or to some other immediate need uncovered during the legislative process. Legislators are incentivized to request placeholders because of the compressed calendar (new titles for general bills cannot be requested after January 22nd) and because of Montana's single subject requirement defined in Article 5, Section 11 of our state constitution.
Our single subject law requires that a bill's content align with the bill's title and that the title does not address multiple, clearly unrelated issues or topics. When the universe of potential topics is combined with the necessity of having a title that adequately addresses each of the identified topics - it is easy to see why the number of placeholder requests rapidly proliferates.
Thank you for allowing me to be your Representative. Happy to be here, happy to serve!
Representative Montana House District 19 - Republican
Committees: Agriculture, Education, State Administration - Vice Chair