Emergency Changes to Election Laws Now Require Legislative Assembly Consent | 406 Politics
Senator Doug Kary, a Billings Republican who passed the bill in the Senate, argued that the measure simply restores the authority of the Legislature over legislation – particularly election laws.
“We are required by federal law and the state constitution to be in charge of elections – our body, the legislature, not the executive body,” Kary said during the April 15 debate on the draft. law in the Senate. “If we do not vote for this, we are not fulfilling our obligations and the oath we have taken to uphold this constitution.”
Democrats opposed the bill. Missoula Senator Bryce Bennett called him “myopic” and said that while there are legitimate concerns about the overbreadth of the leadership, the measure fails to take into account the need to react quickly. sudden emergencies such as forest fires, train wrecks or chemical spills that could block access for voters depending on their location.
“These things happen. There are emergencies that force us to make sure no one is left out of their democracy, ”Bennett said. “… The problem is, it doesn’t say any change in an emergency, and even when it says the Legislature can be consulted in three days, what if the election is in two days? Or one day? Will the Legislature be able to intervene soon enough? “
The bill is one of several pieces of legislation introduced in the last session aimed at restricting the powers of the governor and other authorities in the event of an emergency.