Rep. Derek Skees, R-Kalispell, listens to debate during a House floor session in May 2019. Credit: John Adams / Montana Free Press

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Republican firebrand Derek Skees on conservative losses in the 2019 Legislature

House Majority Whip Rep. Derek Skees is among the group of conservative Republicans — the self-described “38 specials” — who resisted efforts by 20 or so members of the so-called Solutions Caucus to pass major legislation during the 2019 legislative session.

Rep. Derek Skees Credit: John Adams / MTFP

“I honestly think we suffered more losses than we did gains,” Skees said in a wide-ranging Montana Lowdown podcast interview. “It was summed up perfectly in the minority leader’s speech on the House Floor: Democrats got everything they wanted.”

From Medicaid expansion to infrastructure bonding to the state budget, the Solutions Caucus, along with minority Democrats, managed to override the House Republican leaders in 2019.

“It’s the arrogant attitude of these people, behind the scenes, treating us with disdain…that pissed off everybody on my side of the group,” Skees said.

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John Adams began his professional career in 2001 in Idaho Falls, ID writing and editing for a variety of trade magazines. He covered topics ranging from potato and sugar beet farming to skate park and playground construction and maintenance. Adams started his newspaper career as the city government reporter for the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, WI where he covered the City Hall, police, fire and local courthouse beats. In 2005 he joined the staff of the Missoula Independent in Missoula, MT where he worked as a staff reporter covering a wide range of issues including the environment,...