- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A group of Republican lawmakers wants the Legislature to hold a special session in August to consider raising campaign contribution limits to be more in line with those in nearby states - or abolishing them altogether.

The legislators filed their request on Tuesday with the Secretary of State’s Office, just a week before the June 7 primary and just two weeks after a federal judge struck down Montana’s voter-approved limits. The Secretary of State has five days to begin surveying the 150 members of the House and Senate.

Lawmakers also would consider closing what some consider a loophole that, in effect, allows political parties to pay the salaries of campaign staffers and provide unlimited in-kind personnel services.

It would cost about $92,000 to reconvene the Legislature for a one-day session, and $44,000 for each additional day.

The last time a special session was convened was in September 2007, when the Legislature met for a single day to budget money for fire suppression and disaster relief.

Rep. Matthew Monforton, a Republican from Bozeman, said the current limits - put in place by Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl following the judge’s May 17 ruling - were too low to mount an effective campaign. He called the new limits arbitrary.

Motl said that the current limits were based on the limits in place prior to a 1994 initiative that imposed limits that were struck down May 17.

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