Voting issues were the topic of discussion when Speaker Pro Tempore of the Montana House of Representatives Casey Knudsen answered questions from Talk Back listeners.

Knudsen described a bill that requires a picture I.D. before being allowed to vote.

“That one actually came over from Senate,” said Knudsen. “We just had that debated on the House floor yesterday. What that bill does is it requires picture identification for anybody that wants to go to the polls and vote, as well as it provides an avenue for anybody that does not have a current valid driver's license or state ID.”

Knudsen said there were other ways for voters to provide identification.

“There's a list of identifications that are allowed in this bill,” he said. “It provides an affidavit form that a person can fill out if they don't have those forms of identification so that they can still vote. That affidavit can be challenged in court, however, it allows them to vote and then be able to bring documentation to prove that they are who they say they are.”

Knudsen said with the federal government poised to pass laws that require no identification, Montana must be ready with its own existing laws.

“As far as us passing these bills, that's just so that we do have something in place that is strong and that protects our election system,” he said. “So that when the federal government does pass this law, then we have standing so that we have our laws in place and they can't just overrule us and take the place of our regulations.”

Another listener was critical of the fact that the $12.6 billion proposed budget did not contain enough funds for social programs. Knudsen responded.

“What we want to see as a as conservatives in the legislature is we want to know if we are going to spend more money, how that is going to change the situation,” he said. “We don't believe in just dumping money into different programs because ‘more money always fixes everything’. I think we know that's not the case. And in order to determine the effect that we're going to have, we want to be able to see what it's actually going to do before we just go adding money to all of these other programs over and over again.”

Also appearing on Talk Back on Thursday was State Senator Greg Hertz.

The legislature is set to continue into the first part of April.

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