- Associated Press - Monday, March 30, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Montana House has overwhelmingly passed a bill providing funding for an eastern Montana crime lab.

House members voted to pass the amended bill 97-7 Monday. The bill will go next to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 512 would fund a satellite crime lab in Billings to help speed up evidence processing and save some officers from having to drive evidence across the state to Missoula to be analyzed.

The funding has been lowered from $5.8 million to $2.05 million with some ideas including a morgue removed from the project.

Supporters say having a lab in Billings would be more efficient because of the increasing numbers of drug and other crimes in eastern Montana, due in part to the increasing number of people working in the Bakken oil fields.

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