Legislative standoff boils over in Montana Senate

LEWIS AND CLARK COUNTY

POSTED: 5:28 PM Apr 05 2013   UPDATED: 5:52 PM Apr 05 2013
helena capitol
HELENA, Mont. -

A legislative standoff over a missing senator has boiled over with Republicans reconvening the floor session while Democrats pounded their desks in protest.
    
Republican leaders voted on bills Friday while Democrats tried to drown out the proceedings.
    
Republicans allege Democratic Sen. Shannon Augare's absence is a ruse to kill GOP ballot measures. Friday is the deadline for ballot referenda and tax bills.
    
Any bills that don't advance by noon Saturday will die.
    
Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso told his caucus he would invoke a parliamentary procedure that demands every member is present before business can resume.
    
Republicans say they believe Democrats are fabricating the crisis to kill ballot referendums Democrats dislike.
    
Republicans adjourned the session until Friday after the voting was finished. Democrats threatened legal action, saying the votes were unconstitutional.