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MT lawmakers study how to strengthen Legislature

By The Associated Press
Published On: Oct 23 2013 01:40:30 PM MDT
Montana House Legislature
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Montana lawmakers who say term limits have reduced their effectiveness are looking to other states for ideas on how to strengthen their branch of government.

The Legislative Council met Wednesday to examine other legislatures' structures and to lay out a yearlong plan to study whether adopting any of those practices would bolster its own.

Republican Senate President Jeff Essmann says the Legislature is supposed to be equal to the executive and judicial branches, but it has been weakened by eight-year term limits on lawmakers and the schedule of the legislative sessions.

He says term limits have resulted in no lawmakers having a deep knowledge of government agencies and issues.

In addition, Essmann says, holding biennial sessions that last four months and begin soon after elections handicaps the Legislature's effectiveness.