Legislation aims to keep Montana coal-fired for as long as possible

Two energy bills deflating the political power of Montana cities and their residents have drawn opposition at the state Legislature.

The bills, one diluting the voting power of cities on energy matters through political redistricting, the other to prevent cities from addressing climate change, were heard by the House Federal Relations, Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

City representatives turned out to speak against the bills, which have already cleared the Senate. Energy politics are at the root of both.

Senate Bill 109 redraws Montana’s five utility commission districts in a way that divides each of state’s seven largest cities, sparking concern about disenfranchising “communities of interest” through gerrymandering. Voters in Montana’s cities are more likely to vote Democrat than voters in rural areas. Several witnesses said the political districts advocated for by Republican lawmakers assure those democratic voters have a smaller say on energy politics than their actual percentage of the state population suggests they should.

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“The proposed map divides 14 counties, six major cities, and would create five districts with safe Republican majorities, disenfranchising 43% of Montanans who vote for Democrats,”

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