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HELENA - House Democrats and Republicans hashed out plans for control of committees as they look ahead to convening in January with a deadlocked Montana House.

Democrats get to pick the House Speaker even though he chamber is tied 50-50 because their party controls the governor's office - but committee assignments are another story.

All week, the two parties have been wrangling over a way to share power on the committees.

Incoming House Speaker Bob Bergren of Havre said he wants a split in chairmanships and an even number of seats for each party on every committee.

But Republicans leaders, initially leery that Bergren was ignoring their suggestions, said they were optimistic Friday night that a fair deal would be finalized.

"As House Republicans, we will continue to proceed according to precedent and according to the expressed expectations of our constituents, working to negotiate fair and equal sharing of power and responsibility," said Republican floor leader Scott Mendenhall of Clancy.

Democrats said late Friday that the only details left to be hammered out deal with subcommittee assignments.

"They been talking all day," party spokesman Kevin O'Brien said of leadership.

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This will be the third session in a row where the House is closely divided. In 2005, the parties had to develop special rules to deal with a 50-50 split. In 2007, which saw a historic stalemate, Republicans narrowly controlled the chamber 50-49 with the help of a Constitution Party member.

In the Senate, Republicans hold a 27-23 advantage. GOP leaders rolled out committee assignments on Friday that, a predicted, gave their party control of the committees.

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