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Montana Republicans, Democrats select leaders in advance of 2023 legislative session

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Republicans in the Montana Senate elected into leadership President Pro Tempore Ken Bogner, left, President Jason Ellsworth, middle, and Majority Leader Steve Fitzpatrick. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SENATE MAJORITY VIA DAILY MONTANAN

DAILY MONTANAN STAFF

Montana legislators selected leadership Wednesday for the 2023 legislative session, according to announcements from Republicans and Democrats.

Senate Republicans elected Sen. Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, to serve as the next president of the Senate, according to an email from the Senate Majority.

Ellsworth was the Senate president pro tempore during the 2021 legislative session.

“It’s an honor to serve as the next president of the Senate,” Ellsworth said in a statement. “I look forward to working with senators on passing a conservative balanced budget, providing financial relief and lower taxes to Montanans, enacting red tape relief, and preserving the Montana way of life for future generations.

“I’m excited to get to work.” 

Republican senators also elected Sen. Ken Bogner, R-Miles City, as the next Senate president pro tempore and Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls, as their Majority Leader.

Bogner is a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

“I’m honored by the support of my fellow senators and I look forward to accomplishing our conservative agenda that the people of Montana overwhelmingly supported on Election Day,” Bogner said in a statement. “We will work hard to make Montana the most free and fiscally responsible state in this great republic.” 

Fitzpatrick was formerly chair of the Senate Business and Labor Committee.

“It is a tremendous honor to be elected as Majority Leader of the Montana Senate,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “I am looking forward to getting to work for the people of Montana in the 2023 legislative session.” 

Republican senators also chose Sens. Tom McGillvray, Steve Hinebauch, Dennis Lenz, and Barry Usher as Majority Whips and elected senators to serve on the Committee on Committees, the Senate body charged with making committee assignments.

The incoming Speaker of the House is Rep. Matt Regier, R-Kalispell, according to MTN News and other news reports.

Democrats in the Senate elected Sen. Pat Flowers, D-Bozeman, as Minority Leader, according to an email from Montana Senate and House Democrats.

“Wages are stagnant, costs of living are skyrocketing — Montanans need solutions now. Montana Democrats will walk into the Capitol in January with the policy agenda to actually deliver real cost-cutting for Montana families,” Flowers said in a statement.

The Senate Democrats selected Sen. Susan Webber, D-Browning, and Sen. Shannon O’Brien, D-Missoula, as Democratic Whips.

In the House, Democrats selected Rep. Kim Abbott, D-Helena, for a second term as Minority Leader.

“There’s one thing both parties agree on— we have the money to address the very pressing needs facing Montana families. We disagree on the best way to address those needs. Democrats will fight to ensure taxpayers’ money goes back to middle-class families and Montana workers, not towards even more tax handouts for millionaires,” Abbott said in a statement.

House Democrats also selected:

  • Rep. Derek Harvey, D-Butte, for a second term as a Democratic Whip,
  • Rep. Tyson Running Wolf, D-Browning, for a second term as a Democratic Whip,
  • Rep. Katie Sullivan, D-Missoula, as a Democratic Whip, and
  • Rep. Alice Buckley, D-Bozeman, as Democratic Caucus Chair.

A fact sheet detailing Democratic legislators’ session priorities can be found here. A video of the event can be viewed here.

The email from the Senate Majority noted legislators of both parties and both chambers will continue meeting at the state Capitol for the rest of this week to iron out committee assignments, participate in legislator orientation, and prepare for the upcoming legislative session. 

The 68th Montana Legislature will be sworn in on January 2, 2023.

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