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Several bills stalled as state legislative session winds down

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MISSOULA, Mont. - Wednesday marked the 60th day of the legislative session, which means two-thirds of the lawmaking work is finished. With only 30 days left to get legislation passed, NBC Montana looked through a list of bills that probably wouldn't make the cut.

Legislative staff say no bill is dead until the lawmakers are on their way home from session. Out of the 1,113 bills that were introduced this session there are at least 250 on "life support," some with no intention of being brought back at all.

Rep. Daniel Zolnikov's (R-Billings) measure to legalize "road beers" for passengers was controversial.

"I feel like in this day and age in our society we're probably beyond having road beers," said Missoula resident Jacob Quigley, who is happy House Bill 206 didn't move on.

"The driver isn't going to get drunk off of smelling fumes in the passenger's side seat, so it's like why not," said Mick Clark, of Butte, who wanted to see the measure go through.

Lawmakers were also wary about a proposal allowing guns to be carried in schools.

Right now education officials are pressing the Senate for more money to fund the state university system, after a similar deal died in the state House.

Laws limiting cellphone use weren't popular this session. A proposal to stop local municipalities from restricting the use of cellphones and electronic devices behind the wheel didn't make it.

"It should be banned, statewide," said Missoula resident Dane Alford. "There's no reason to be texting and driving."

"If you're on YouTube, trying to scope out some new hip-hop music videos, that's not a good idea," explained Chris Bhola, a Missoula resident. "If you're on Facebook trying to figure out your notification, that's asking for an accident."

Another proposal restricting cellphone use in work and school zones also didn't make the cut.

And what about Election Day? A measure that would eliminate Election Day as a state holiday doesn't look like it will be moving forward either.

All eyes are on a bill that would allow mail-in ballots for the special election to fill Montana's empty seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. County election officials support the bill, saying it could save them upwards of $500,000. That measure must pass by April 10 to make an impact.

The last day of legislative session is April 29. Lawmakers can pass bills up until that day.

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