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University of Montana Legislative roundtable: Lot of time wasted in first half of Montana Legislature

February 25, 2011View for printing

On Thursday, the halfway point of the 2011 legislative session, Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, took the opportunity to make a distinction between the two legislative houses.

"There's the saying that the Senate is like a wine and cheese party and the House is like a kegger," he said on a visit to Missoula. "We're working and functioning well."

Thursday marked the 45th day of the 90-day legislative session and a bipartisan panel of lawmakers gathered on the University of Montana campus for a roundtable discussion sponsored by UM political science students and faculty. Political science professor Christopher Muste moderated the event and KUFM news director Sally Mauk and UM journalism professor Dennis Swibold posed questions to the group.

Some have referred to the first half of the session as a circus, contentious and chaotic, especially in the week leading up to transmittal break. However, it seemed that Thursday's four panel members - Tutvedt, Senate president pro tempore; Senate Minority Leader Carol Williams, D-Missoula; House Minority Caucus Leader Betsy Hands, D-Missoula; and freshman Rep. Ron Ehli, R-Hamilton - all seemed to agree in several respects.

By CHELSI MOY of the Missoulian

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