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The Latest: Session convenes as legislators are sworn in

January 02, 2017 - 11:28 AM

HELENA, Mont. - The Latest on the opening of the Montana legislative session (all times local):

1:25 p.m.

The 90-day session of the Montana Legislature is underway.

The spouses and children of lawmakers filled the House chamber Monday as Supreme Court Justice Jim Rice swore in the 100 representatives.

In the Senate chamber, Justice Laurie McKinnon administered the oath of office.

Secretary of State Corey Stapleton told lawmakers that they have been elected to serve in Montana's "house of conflict." He says the conflict over the session's next few months will affect the lives of Montanans who will live under the laws they pass.

Stapleton says the legislators can choose how they conduct themselves in conflict and urged them to show their humanity.

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11:50 a.m.

Montana Republican legislative leaders say they have a plan to reverse a sagging state economy.

House Majority Leader Ron Ehli says the GOP plan focuses on balancing the state budget, which the Legislature is constitutionally required to do. He says lawmakers will examine Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock's proposed spending cuts and ensure that vulnerable Montanans' services are protected.

Ehli says lawmakers will propose a "basic infrastructure bill" to counter Bullock's $293 million infrastructure plan.

House Speaker Austin Knudsen blames 12 years of leadership under Democratic governors for spending growth that outpaces the revenue to pay for it.

The GOP leadership's news conference Monday morning comes after Bullock appealed for bipartisan co-operation in the new legislative session.

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11 a.m.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is opening his second term with an appeal to Republican leaders for bipartisan co-operation in the state's interests.

The Democratic governor was sworn in Monday, along with Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, four statewide elected officials and two Supreme Court justices.

After the elected officials took the oath of office administered by Chief Justice Mike McGrath, Bullock addressed the crowd packed into the state capitol's rotunda.

He asked the assembled state leaders how they will positively influence Montana and whether they will be remembered for their rhetoric or results.

He called on leaders from both political parties to rise above partisanship, to work together and to be role models for the next generation.

The Republican-controlled Legislature convenes its session on Monday afternoon.

9:10 a.m.

The Montana Legislature is convening its 65th session.

Monday is largely a ceremonial day, starting with the inauguration of statewide elected officials.

They include Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, who will be sworn in for his second term. The others to be sworn in include Attorney General Tim Fox, incoming Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, incoming State Auditor Matthew Rosendale and incoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen.

Frigid temperatures have moved the ceremony inside to the state capitol rotunda.

At noon, the state House and Senate will gavel in, opening the 90-day session.

Lawmakers are expected to focus mainly on budget issues this year.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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