- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The House has passed a bill that would allow the governor of Montana to grant clemency to prisoners even if the state parole board recommends against it.

House Bill 43 passed by an 88-12 vote on Friday.

Under the measure, the governor would assume final authority over clemency requests from people convicted of crimes. The governor also would be able to waive fines, lessen a sentence or pardon someone.

Bill sponsor Rep. Margie McDonald of Billings says 39 states operate in this manner. The board has come under increased scrutiny after inmate complaints about inconsistent decisions and after Gov. Steve Bullock supported commuting the life sentence of convicted murderer Barry Beach. The board declined to forward a clemency recommendation.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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