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Burton K. Wheeler Center at Montana State University Conference: Can the Legislature be fixed?

October 2, 2007View for printing

A contentious and divided Legislature that limped through a historic and bitter collapse can be fixed, leading lawmakers meeting here Monday were told.


The Burton K. Wheeler Center conference continues Tuesday, with current legislative leaders talking about ways to move forward.

By MATT GOURAS Associated Press Writer

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Leaders look at ways to improve Legislature


Speakers Monday prescribed a host of remedies — particularly ending or extending term limits for lawmakers — to fix a rancorous Montana Legislature that bitterly adjourned in April without completing its work.

Other speakers at the two-day conference sponsored by the Burton K. Wheeler Center at Montana State University suggested if legislators met for shorter periods annually, instead of one 90-minute session every other year, they might learn to get along better with each other.

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Can the Legislature be fixed?

On the heels of a 2007 legislation session marked by political hardball, name calling and an inability to approve a budget within the allotted 90 days, 73 percent of Montanans polled gave the Legislature a negative job rating — despite the fact that they liked most of what had been accomplished.

That irony wasn’t lost on the Burton K. Wheeler Center at MSU, which sponsored a two-day conference this week on how the legislative process might be improved.

Among the ideas discussed, two stood out: ending or extending term limits, and moving the session farther away from the election. Each suggestion has its problems.

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