HELENA — One of the 67th legislature’s themes has been reining in the power of the executive branch. Now, a bill restricting the governor’s ability to call a state of emergency has moved a step closer to his desk. 

Lawmakers on a joint committee approved a final form of House Bill 230 Monday and it now goes back for final approval from both legislative chambers. 

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Matt Regier, R-Kalispell, would force the governor to ask the legislature to extend a state of emergency beyond 45 days. It also keeps the government from preventing religious groups from meeting. Reiger presented the bill to a Senate Committee in March. 

“This is not about us - you and me as legislators - and it’s not about who was or - who is currently - on the second floor,” Regier said. “This is about a good form of state government.”

The second floor is where the governor’s office is in the Capitol. 

Current law allows a governor to maintain a state of emergency indefinitely if either the United States President or the Montana Legislature allows them to do so. 

The bill comes among a rash of similar bills from Republican lawmakers in response to the COVID 19 Pandemic.

James Bradley is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation. 

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