President of the Montana Senate, Mark Blasdel, spoke with KGVO News on Wednesday after Governor Greg Gianforte cleared the decks to prepare for a special session of the Montana Legislature.

Blasdel said the redrawing of Public Service Commission boundaries cannot be undertaken by a federal court.

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“The governor has been forthright from day one that if the legislature can come to a consensus and an agreed upon map or something along those lines that he would be willing to consider calling a special session for that one purpose only,” said Senator Blasdel. “What happened is some voters had filed (a motion) in federal court that the Public Service Commission, which consists of five different regional districts, are out of proportion based on the number of voters and that they were unconstitutional.”

Blasdel said the effort had already begun to address the issue in the next legislative session in 2023.

“The Department of Justice and a number of others had pushed that they allow the legislature in 2023 when we have our normal session, that they then could redraw those maps now that we have the new census data,” he said. “Instead, the federal court has ruled that on March 4, they will move forward with drawing maps, which is blatantly unconstitutional as they are federal district court judges drawing statewide maps for state districts.”

Governor Gianforte said he would authorize a special session to deal that that one issue, but Blasdel said it would take time to organize a special session.

“Typically it takes up to two weeks for just legislative staff and the IT department to stand up everything that needs to be done to perform this session because the legislators will actually come back to Helena for that or be able to participate by ZOOM, no different than we have during the last session.”

Even though the governor plainly stated that the special session would be limited to only one issue, Blasdel said the assembled legislators could change that once the session begins.

“Well, obviously that's a process that can happen at any time during a special session and it's one of the challenges with having that,” he said. “A simple majority of members at any time before or during a special session can expand the call. And every legislator is entitled, no different than me or the speaker to make that effort.”

No date has been set as yet for a special session.


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