With solid majorities in both houses of the Montana Legislature, Republican leaders set the tone for the next 90 days at a press conference in the House chamber on Monday.

President of the Senate Mark Blasdel was first at the microphone.

“This legislative session will be historic,” said Blasdel. “We're facing an unprecedented challenge with legislation that was created during a global pandemic the likes of which we haven't seen in over 100 years.  Now we begin a legislative session that Montanans expect and deserve, and to provide options for legislators and the members of public to safely participate in the process, we're having our first hybrid session in Montana history, with the ability to make your voice heard remotely as well as in person.”

Senate Majority Leader Cary Smith said there is a great deal of diversity within the state legislative body.

“Montanans have always been diverse in our opinions and yet united in our love for our home under the Big Sky,” said Smith. “Our Republican caucus is no different. Every member standing behind me brings their own perspectives, informed by their experiences, and the will of each of their constituents. The Republican Party is the party of individual rights, of diversity of thought and freedom of expression. While all of us won't agree on every single idea, or every single ideal, we're united in our common goals and our commitment to Montanans.”

Speaker of the House Wylie Galt echoed that statement.

“Republicans are united behind our shared policy goals that will be to create more opportunities for families and businesses, while reducing government overreach,” said Galt. “The conservative majority in the House is committed to sending bills to our colleagues in the Senate and to the governor's desk, which will protect Montana's checkbook, protect rights and individual freedoms, along with Montana's outdoor heritage, and support great reliable health care options, as well as provide education solutions for all.”

House Majority Leader Sue Vinton encapsulated all the other speakers with this comment.

“The House majority is as diverse as the citizens we represent,” said Vinton. “We have some of the youngest legislators in the country sworn in today, as well as some legislative veterans. We all have different skills, backgrounds, interests and constituents. But we are unified in passing legislation under the banners that the speaker mentioned. The conservative majority will pass a balanced budget with no tax increases; we will grow our economy by making our state a better place to live, work and do business. We will safeguard Montana's personal freedoms from government intrusion. We will take action to preserve public access to public lands. We will build a stable healthcare system that Montanans can count on for the long term, and provide new educational options for students and parents to achieve individual success.”

The video from which the comments were drawn showed at least 10 legislators who were not wearing masks, with just one individual in the background who was masked.

 

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