Archive for May 14th, 2007

by Jay Stevens

Dagnabit! Just when I was going to sit down and write a post about how the special session was hummin’ along for budget issues, but foundering on tax issues – and not over the substance or amount of relief – but on the collection of taxes, I see David Sirota beat me to the punch:

…the Republican leadership in the Montana legislature has no problem with resident taxpayers paying higher taxes because out-of-state landowners and corporations are being allowed to get away with not paying what they owe. This, folks, is the war on the middle class at work.

The Great Falls Tribune gives us more details, reporting that Republicans offered “amendments rang[ing] from reducing the number of lawyers in the state Department of Revenue to cutting funding for a tax-gap analysis.” And the Billings Gazette and the Daily Interlake gives us some details on exactly who is pulling the strings – it’s Republican Reps. Scott “My Vote’s For” Sales, Bob Lake and John Sonju.

From the Daily Interlake’s piece, Bigfork’s Bill Jones sums up the current session’s logjam:

Rep. Bill Jones, R-Bigfork, said he’s not aware of the details, but he is “disturbed that we’re talking about revenue enhancements when we have a surplus.”

Jones was not among the Republicans who met with Schweitzer’s staff last weekend, but he often votes with that group. He voted in the Republican bloc to pass the major education bill Friday and the governor’s energy bill Saturday.

“There’s two steps that I’ve supported them on right there,” he said.

Looks like Republican corporatists are caving on the budget, on the composition and amount of tax relief (Interlake: “Sonju and Sales, R-Bozeman, both said the bill is laden with so much harmful tax policy that they would not support it even though it also contains tax relief provisions”…), but are trying to derail the process over collecting taxes. That is, they don’t want big business to have to pony up.

And while the Governor is not winning any friends this session and has made a lot of bonehead blunders, it’s quickly becoming evident that this whole Legislature crash has been about protecting out-of-state big business from their tax responsibilities.

I’m not as quick as Sirota to accuse Sales of being bought. After all, Sales and the gang may actually believe it’s in the best interest of the state to relieve business of their tax obligations. It makes for a “business friendly” state! Unfortunately for the rest of us, being “business friendly” means having to pony up and pay a disproportionate amount of taxes.

Sirota calls it a “war on the middle class.” As much as I often chafe at Sirota’s demagoguery, I have to agree.

by Jay Stevens

So a guy gets plastered, causes a wreck in Bonner, drives off, veers into a bicyclist and kills her in front of witnesses, crashes into a stop sign, then staggers off home where the cops nab him.

And then he pleads “not guilty.”

Is he still drunk?

It’s *sshats like this that test my opposition to the death penalty.

And don’t even get me started on this guy. Violent women-hating stalkers bug me.

Update: My knee-jerk passion is corrected by defense attorney, “Ty,” in the comments:

An arraignment is just an initial presentment – usually your first time in court. The entry of the plea at that stage is basically a formality. Often that will be the first time you see a lawyer. It is the rare case that anyone would plead guilty at arraignment, where you may not even have a lawyer yet and certainly no lawyer has investigated your case, talked with the prosecutor about a potential plea bargain, or considered all your options and advised you about them. It would be unethical for a lawyer to just advise a client to just plead guilty at arraignment without having investigated the case at all.

Good to know. I’m not crazy about bicyclist-killing drunks, but I admit I went a little overboard… 

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