Lawmakers promise on first day to get along
LEWIS AND CLARK COUNTY
Montana legislators are promising to spend the session working together and drop the partisan acrimony that has plagued past Legislatures.
House Republicans and Democrats elected new House Speaker Mark Blasdel of Somers without opposition. Blasdel promised to respect different viewpoints and encouraged fellow lawmakers "to make this session more about work, and less about politics."
Republicans control both chambers. But the governor's office remains in Democratic hands, with Steve Bullock being sworn into that office earlier in the day.
The lawmakers start work this week analyzing his proposed budget.
The Montana Senate voted Republican Sen. Jeff Essmann of Billings as its president.
Essmann says the 63rd Legislature must use tax money efficiently, debate relevant issues and build a relationship with Bullock based on trust and respect.