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House falls one vote short of tapping coal trust fund


HELENA - The House appeared to be on the verge of breaking a logjam over where to find more money for balancing the state budget.

Representatives voted 74-26 Wednesday to approve a bill that makes a withdrawal from the coal tax trust fund and more than triples the cigarette tax to provide an estimated $72 million over the next two years.

The preliminary vote was one shy of the three-fourth's majority needed to tap the coal trust. A crucial final vote on the measure is expected Friday, but no one was sure whether the single additional supporter would surface by then.

''I'm not going to force...

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