Archive for January 5th, 2009

by jhwygirl

Oh Lord…where to begin?

Let’s start: It’s Montana! It’s going to snow! Slow the ^#*% down!

How’s that for starters?


I can not BELIEVE that people are calling Mayor’s office to complain and city council members are chastising his office for his so-called poor handling of the matter.

Snow?! Are you kidding me? Seriously? We’ve got Gaza being bombed, U.S. soldiers under attack in Iraq and Afghanistan, China torturing prisoners, toxic radioactive coal sludge polluting an area right here in the USA – an area larger than the Valdez spill which has yet to be cleaned up, people dying for lack of healthcare, the economy in the toilet, AND electronic signs going up on South Avenue right across from historic Fort Missoula and people are complaining about snow piles in the middle of the road?!

How frickin’ self-centered can we be?

How’s about this? If there is a snow pile in the middle of the road and you are having trouble getting in your driveway because of it …. DRIVE AROUND THE BLOCK.

OR, better yet – park your car and go into your garage and grab your shovel and get rid of that annoying snow pile in the middle of the road. The exercise’ll do you good.

Me? I actually kinda like those snow piles in the middle of the road. It makes me feel safer from the idiots driving around like it’s the middle of the summer. If they’re going to do a 360 in the middle of the road because they’re driving too fast, at least let them stay on their side of the road.

Here’s some other tips:
#1 – The stopping distance to that stop sign up ahead just got longer. It’s not 25 feet – it’s something like a hundred. Again – slow the ^#*% down. That helps. Tremendously.
#2 – Start s-l-o-w-l-y at that stop sign. I can not BELIEVE how many idiots I see hitting the gas like some brainless video-playing fools. Know what? Those spinning tires are making ice.
#3 – See #1 – because some idiot – about a dozen of ’em in the last 3 hours, in fact – just cruised up to that stop sign like it was July 1st and hit the brakes and made ice.

We aren’t halfway through winter, yet we are $9,000 into our $15,000 overtime snow removal budget. See where this is going?

SLOW DOWN! It works and it’s less expensive. Trust me. McDonalds and Walmart will still be there.

If you’re going to call the Mayor to complain, forget about the snow because YOU SHOULD BE SLOWING DOWN and instead, tell him we need some affordable housing.

by jhwygirl

It’s official – Democrats have made yet another fine addition to the U.S. Senate.

Congratulations are in order, Senator Al Franken, from the Great State of Minnesota!

While one vote short of a supermajority, Democrats now hold 59 seats in the Senate, Republicans 41.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming……

by jhwygirl

This week’s schedule for the House is here, and for the Senate is here.

Rep. Sue Dickenson, of Great Falls, has two bills associated with recycling in the Natural Resources Committee – HB21 and HB35.

Missoula’s HD-92 Rep. Robin Hamilton has his HB62 set for hearing – it will require mandatory safety and education course for all trappers. How could anyone think that is a bad thing? But you know there will be lobbyists there try and kill it. That is the the House’s Fish Wildlife & Parks Committee.

Also in the FWP Committee is 4&20’s favorite Rep. JP Pomnichowski’s (Bozeman) HB63, that will allow commercial fur bearer licenses to be revoked under certain circumstances for violations of law.

Rep. Arlene Becker, of Billings has HB151 set for hearing in the House Business & Labor. It will revise breast reconstruction mandates so that they will be subject to coverage in any policy within the state – and be in compliance with federal mandates. Let’s see how our overwhelmingly male legislator decides on that one. Sometimes you’ll find that bureaucrat-types, despite knowing that not fixing something like this puts the state in legal jeopardy, have a “let ’em sue us” mentality.

That was only a brief run-down of this week’s House hearings. Be sure to check for the whole schedule for this week. Note that it will default to House hearings – you have to click on Senate to switch to theirs.

I’ll try and hit the Senate hearings – there are a number of ’em – tomorrow.

For information on any number of ways to contact your legislator or any legislator, click here.

For information on what legislators are on what committees, check below:
House Committee membership
Senate Committee membership
Joint Committee membership

In addition, you can stay involved and informed by watching TVMT, the Montana Legislature broadcasting network. You can watch that on (if I counted correctly) 42 channels around the state. Here in Missoula, it’s 67 – in Helena it’s 19.

There’s also live streaming, via Real Player – so you can listen at your computer. Eventually, those are archived (usually within a week or so.) If my memory is serving me well, the Real Player links are off of this page

by jhwygirl

Well, the 2009 Legislative Session is finally here. The biennial budget, of course, being the main task – but with the economy teetering on a free-fall, it appears lawmakers are in agreement that the budge discussions may not have the popcorn-and-fireworks that they did in the (some say) embarrassing 2007 session.

I think that points to a great start. Maybe the lack of disagreement on needing a budget that is so lean it will allow for time to address other items on the agenda – like creating a standing water policy committee (SB4) out of what has been a much needed interim water policy committee. The legislation, while proposed by Sen. David Wanzenried of Missoula, is a result of recommendations made by the interim committee who saw a need to have a permanent committee with permanent members who were not only able to build seniority, but able to build a foundation of knowledge with which to work. Hearings for that start on the 12th.

A wealth of information came out of that interim committee. This page will take you to it – and if you head to the schedule, you can link to the recordings of the live meetings. Instead of listening to the radio, seriously, download some of those meetings. Some of them are pretty lively. The March meeting comes to mind.

Water issues are important here at 4&20, and I’ll repeat myself here without embarrassment: What is Montana without its water?

Let’s see if a majority of our legislators agree.

Related to water, legislators will also be taking on public access county bridges to Montana’s waterways. Again – another topic that we’ve blogged about here at 4&20 and one that we hope a majority of legislators can agree needs to be addressed. I mean – public right-of-way is public right-of-way. No private individual should be taking that area without either (a) just compensation, or (b) ensuring that their use of it doesn’t interfere with the public’s right to use it also.

Rep. Ken Petersen of Billings has proposed a bill – HB26 – which attempts to address the situation. Petersen – a Republican – wants the public to pay for fencing erection and improvements that are (or have been) erected by private individuals. No date has been set for hearing on this bill yet.

Another one we’ll be watching is SB47, which deals with payday loans. Proposed by Sen. Donad Steinbeisser of Sidney, the bill goes a few steps towards regulation of the loan shark lenders – including the potential for a one-year license revocation, and adoption of federal regulations that would make failure to comply violations of state law – but it does fail to place maximum ceilings on loans.

Hearings for SB47 begin on Wednesday.

Steinbeisser has a 100% rating from the Montana Chamber of Commerce for 2007. The Chamber lobbied heavily in 2007, successfully quashing attempts at regulating these loan sharks.

I’ll have more later today, with some focus on upcoming House Committee hearings.

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