By Associated Press - Friday, November 14, 2014

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Republican members of the Montana House have held a caucus meeting after-hours and away from the Capitol.

The Great Falls Tribune reports ( that about 50 Republican lawmakers met late Thursday in the basement of a Helena hotel to talk about the 2015 legislative session.

Party caucus meetings must be open to the public after the courts found in the 1990s that party caucuses were public bodies and subject to Montana’s right-to-know laws.

Newly elected Republican House Majority Leader Keith Regier of Kalispell handed out questionnaires at the meeting and asked lawmakers to give opinions on issues such as the transfer of public lands.

Billings attorney and Republican Sen. Jeff Essmann told the Tribune that the meeting did not fall under the state’s open meetings law for reasons including that lawmakers were not on public property.

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