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DUI bill that caused political furor over process is now dead

“I think a lot of legislators thought that the process was being circumvented, and I didn’t care to have it keep going,” Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, told MTN News on Tuesday. “I’m disappointed for the people of Montana because it is a serious problem in this state,” he said. “When one to two people die every week because of impaired drivers, that’s serious.” The proposal, crafted originally by Republican Attorney General Tim Fox, would have taken a number of steps to attempt to reduce drunken driving, including the use of blood draws from first-time drunken-driving suspects. “Without that hard evidence, it’s hard to get a conviction,” Regier said. In an interview Tuesday, Fox told MTN News that he, too, is disappointed that the bill didn’t pass — but said he plans to keep working on the issue. “Montana, unfortunately, is a state that leads the nation in the number of DUI deaths and DUI, in general, per capita.” Other elements of the bill included increasing fines for serial DUI offenders and making it harder for DUI offenders to get those offenses removed from their record. Regier’s Senate Bill 65, which contained the original proposals, passed the Senate but was killed last Friday by the House Judiciary Committee, with both Republicans and Democrats voting against it. However, late that same evening, Regier and others decided to take parts of the bill and place them in a lengthy amendment that would be offered to another bill Saturday morning, in the Senate Finance and Claims Committee. The committee voted Saturday morning to place the DUI language into House Bill 685, a one-page “companion bill” that had a broad title and had been sitting in committee with virtually no content. Story by Mike Dennison, MTN News

Voter registration process must evolve

Labour’s announcement that it will support automatic voter registration (Report, 12 April) is a welcome step in the right direction. Far from being radical, though, automatic registration is the common right across advanced democracies. All parties need to be looking at how to modernise our democracy when so many millions feel unheard and excluded. We need a registration revolution – steps to ensure that registration isn’t a lottery but is instead encouraged at every stage of interaction with official bodies, from sorting pensions to getting a driving licence or benefits. It’s time the “missing millions” were heard. Dr Jess Garland Director of policy and research, Electoral Reform Society • Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com • Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters • Do you have a photo you’d like to share with Guardian readers? Click here to upload it and we’ll publish the best submissions in the letters spread of our print edition