Senate adjourns, passing budget after gridlock– 2013 Legislature closed

Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich (left) and Sen. Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge) speak with Minority Leader Jon Sesso(right)  after Senate blocks budget amendments negotiated between the House and Governor Steve Bullock

Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich (left) and Sen. Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge) speak with Minority Leader Jon Sesso(right) after Senate blocks budget amendments negotiated between the House and Governor Steve Bullock

UPDATE 3:13PM: The Senate votes 49-1 to adjourn Sine Die. Sen. Scott Sales (R-Bozeman) opposing–as a joke, it seemed.

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UPDATE 3:07: The Senate voted 28-22 to approve the budget amendments reached between the House and Governor Bullock. Senators are giving closing speeches.

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UPDATE 2:34: The budget amendments are brought up onto the Senate floor on the 4th time through the vote– 37-13. The body is now taking a short break.

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UPDATE 2:21: The Senate again failed to bring the budget amendments to the floor, losing a vote. 32-18.

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UPDATE 2:00 PM: Several sources reporting Senator Jonathan Windy Boy (D-Box Elder) voted against bringing budget amendments to Senate floor.

Montana Television Network State Politics Reporter Marnee Banks tweets:

Sen Driscoll & Sen Sesso had words with Sen Windy Boy after he voted with R’s to kill the Governor’s amendment to the budget

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UPDATE 1:47 PM: The Senate has just gavelled back into order and failed to bring SB410 onto the floor with a 33-17 vote. It needed a 34-16 vote.

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Senate lawmakers have reached an impasse on the state budget deal negotiated last night between the House of Representatives and Governor Steve Bullock just a couple of hours after the House adjourned for the 2013 Legislative Session.

The Senate failed to reach the required two-thirds majority vote needed to suspend the body’s rules and accept SB410 for consideration, a bill containing amendments to the state budget. The vote was 27-23. SB410 was the product of late-night negotiations with Governor Bullock on the state’s main budget bill, HB2. Bullock has said HB2 as it stands is not acceptable, and the amendments included in SB410 were an attempt to prevent his veto.

Senate Republican leadership characterizes the vote not to accept the budget amendment bill as a bargaining tool to try to get more of their bills signed by the Governor.

Senate majority and minority leadership gathered just outside the Senate chambers for an intense exhange immediately following the 27-23 vote.

“To bring it (SB410) over here as part of the process was understood between the Speaker and the Governor,”  said Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso.

Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich faults the amendment bill for adding more than $13 million  to the two-year, $10 billion budget . “That was never even discussed,” he said.”(The House) couldn’t have spoken for us because we didn’t know about the changes until after it happened.”

“You were given every opportunity to participate in those negotiations last night,” said Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso.

“I think we have to see if the Governor wants to talk,” said Senator Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge), speaking with reporters after the heated discussion with Senator Sesso. Priest says Senate leadership wants to speak with the Governor on ‘a handful of priority bills’ but would not elaborate on what those bills are.

Lee Newspapers Reporter Charles S. Johnson tweeted shortly thereafter:

Gov. Bullock’s senior adviser Jim Molloy to reporters: “There will be no negotiations.”

 Senator Llew Jones (R-Conrad) also sent several tweets as the Senate stood in recess after the SB410 vote, including:

Senator Priest and President Essman were present in negotiations yesterday. Still playing games, trying to get more.

Speaker so upset he leaves building. Ankey wonders what happened to integrity.

The Senate still stands in recess after the decision. We will be bringing you more on what still may be (but who knows now) the last day of the 2013 Legislature.

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