Montana Lawmakers Reject Bill Making Judicial Elections Partisan

Montana lawmakers voted Tuesday against a bill that would have made judicial elections biased. It was just one of several policy changes aimed at changing the way judges get on the bench that lawmakers are considering this session.

House Bill 342 would have required judges and judges to be nominated and elected in partisan votes, a major change from the political independence elections currently being conducted.

Republican Matt Regier of Kalispell takes the bill. He said judges and judges have political beliefs.

“I think we should inform the voters about it,” said Regier.

The bill was defeated on the floor of the house between 44 and 56, and some Republicans voted against it alongside the Democrats.

Democratic MP Robert Farris-Olsen said he opposed the bill “… because it affects the independence of our judicial system”.

Another bill that would eliminate the Judiciary Nominations Committee and allow the governor to make judicial appointments to vacancies directly is progressing. Senate Bill 140 passed the Senate and will be negotiated on Thursday morning in the House Judiciary Committee.

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