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Senator Welborn’s 2023 Session Wrap Up

In my final wrap up, first I'll address why we voted to adjourn Sine Die in the

Senate, prior to the House being finished with their business. To start with the

session didn't end as a result, but it did stop any further amendments from

being attached to bills that were still alive, the House either could pass them out

in their most recent form, where once in Free Conference, literally any measure

that was previously dead, can also be added back at last minute, by a select

committee, which members are selected at discretion of Majority leadership, but

often times this takes away the people's voice, resulting from little to no public

input. Let me be clear, when done properly, the Free Conference route is a

valuable tool to put finishing touches on complicated legislation, but it also very

problematic, when things aren't done in a measured, thoughtful and transparent


Myself, and several other Senators, both Republican and Democrats alike,

shared our collective concerns that it wasn't being done in a way that benefits

everyday people. All of our concerns were nevertheless dismissed, at the hands

of a top down leadership style, of the Senate President and Majority Leader.

Montana tax payers, are the ones who really lose, in this instance, as I've seen

happen in recent sessions. It's also how short sighted laws get passed, again

our Senate Leaders chose to take this path on several instances, and therefore

Sine Die become the best option in the minds of a simple majority. It only takes

a simple a majority vote to Sine Die, and in the Senate, with All Democrats, 5

Ultra Conservative, and 5 Moderate Republicans making up the 26-24 vote. I

also recognize that some good bills also died in the process, which is the

downside to our action.

Now lets shift gears, with recent actions on the House Side, making national

headlines, and the Senate introducing and passing numerous controversial

medical choice, personal freedom, and cultural divide policy proposals, together

have over shadowed so much of the good work we've done this session. From

addressing the mental health crisis, and more adequate nursing home

reimbursement rates, to the aging infrastructure at our State Hospitals, and

Correctional facilities, to a whole slew of things that were approached with a

once in a lifetime opportunity, due to budget surpluses. We took up the task of

increasing the budget on provider rate for nursing homes. Medicaid

reimbursements, although still barely adequate, as several elder care facilities

have closed in recent months, however we were able to fill most of that gap,

which is a big step forward for our aging population, and hiring specialized staff

to do the work that matters to so many families.

I'm also happy with the $300 million investment, in long overdue mental health

funding, we passed in the Senate, with all Republican and Democrat, budget

members voting unanimously for, and with House concurrence, should more

adequately address the mental health crisis in Montana. This will help

everything from crisis intervention, to long term solutions, to better treatment

options. We were also able to address road and public infrastructure

maintenance for County and Local Governments.

On a more local basis we were able to pass funding for several, over due

construction projects at UM-Western, add back in full inflation adjustments for

Youth Challenge, and many other local endeavors, its all now in Governor's

hands, so hopefully politics don't get in the way of sound fiscal policy for rural

SW Montana.

I do feel that we also missed other good opportunities, for saving a much bigger

part of the surplus money for a rainy day, by leaving too much discretionary

spending authority for the executive branch, over the next twenty months, until

we meet again, but the votes were, what they were, and I also respect that.

I will also go on record as saying, many of the social, and personal choice bills

that were passed mostly, but not entirely along party lines, and signed by the

Governor, will most likely be challenged in the courts, both state and federal,

and if deemed unconstitutional, or run afoul of federal laws, could cost Montana

upwards of 7.5 billion dollars, or half of our entire budget, that comes from

federal dollars flowing into our State, by way of human service, education,

transportation, and wildlife habitat funding, all hanging in the balance. I can only

hope I'm wrong.

This would also make a special session unavoidable should federal funding

evaporate from our budget, by throwing it out of structural balance.

We have two duties as elected Senators, as do the House Members, one is to

uphold the constitution, the second is pass a balanced budget.

Thanks for reading and following along over the past four months, with what we

did in the the people’s branch of government.

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