Archive for January 11th, 2009

by jhwygirl

Rep. Ted Washburn of Bozeman has proposed to eliminate same-day voter registration. Under the provisions of HB88, registration would close 30 days before an election, and the Friday before a school election.

Why, pray tell, do school elections get those extra days and regular elections don’t?

A hearing is set for HB88 before the House State Administration committee on Tuesday the 13th.

Why is it important to maintain same-day registration? Promotion of the democratic process is one excellent reason. All citizens should want to include as many people as possible in the public process. In 2008 more than 10,000 Montanans took advantage of same-day registration. 10,000. Why would anyone want to discourage that many people from voting. Consider this, from Forward Montana:

Many voters have to turn to Election Day Registration because of no other options. Federal law requires that state agencies like the Department of Motor Vehicles offer voter registration to citizens, but these forms don’t always get routed correctly. Other Montanans register to vote with third-party organizations. Sometimes bad handwriting can lose a form. In these instances, voters would be disenfranchised with no recourse.

What can you do? One easy way to act right now is to sign Forward Montana’s petition.

Secondly, please take a moment – and I rarely directly ask ya’all to do something like this – to forward a link of this blog post to 2 or 3 (or 5) people that you know. Ask them to do the same.

Finally, email Rep. Dennis Himmelberger, who is the Chair of the State Administration committee (dhimme1045@aol.com) along with Rep. Ted Washburn (ted@tedwashburn.com) and staffer Sheri Heffelfinger, (sheffelfinger@mt.gov). Ask that your comments be entered into the record of public comment. Missoula Representatives Betsy Hands and Sue Malek are on the House State Administration committee – the committee which is hearing HB88. Rep. Malek, though, does not have an email address posted. A list of all House committee members is here, while you can access information on all legislators here.

Let’s not close out this legislative session by reducing voter opportunity for Montanans.

by jhwygirl

Legislators (and lobbyists) are going to be busy: There are 183 public hearings this week.

Below are some highlights (for me, at least) on a day-by-day basis:

Monday: Missoula’s Senator Dave Wanzenried has SB4 which proposes to create a permanent water policy subcommittee of the Environmental Quality Council. Water issues are important and complex – and they aren’t going to go away. A permanent committee is needed to address the issues, and to build seniority and a volume of knowledge on the subject. This hearing is in the Senate Natural Resources Committee – and you can submit pubic comment by emailing staffer Sonja Nowakowski and requesting distribution to committee members. Sonja’s email is snowakowski@mt.gov.

Also on Monday, also in the Senate, and also from Missoula, is Senator Ron Erickson’s (Senator Erickson, you need a legislative webpage) SB9, which would authorize funding of transportation project with use of revenue bonds. This one is in the Local Government committee and is important to many large communities around the state. As many of you know, state gas taxes are not disbursed proportionally, so larger communities face a greater burden on road funding. I’d hope that this has bi-partisan support. Leanne Heisel is the staffer for the Local Government committee, and you can email her your public comment at lheisel@mt.gov.

In the House, on Monday, I see HB30, which allows for youth election judges, of the age of 16. What better way to instill good citizen involvement? This one is from Rep. Franke Wilmer, of Bozeman. It’s in the House’s State Administration committee. Sheri Heffelfinger is the staffer, sheffelfinger@mt.gov.

Another one I like is Sidney’s Rep. Walter McNutt who has proposed HB52, which would ensure funding of hydrogeological studies of Montana’s ground water and prioritization of subbasins by the groundwater assessment steering committee. It also adds a member of the development community to the committee. It is in the Appropriations committee, staffed by Jon Moe, jmoe@mt.gov.

Stream access is up on Tuesday in the House’s Fish, Wildlife & Parks committee. HB190, sponsored by Billings Rep. Kendall Van Dyk is the sponsor. We blogged this one here, and the Missoulian covered it here. Doug Sternberg is the staffer, dsternberg.

I’ll have a separate post about HB88, which proposes to eliminate same-day registration. That hearing is on Tuesday, also.

On Wednesday, yet another near-and-dear-to-me hearing on water issues: SB93 and SB94, both proposed by Senator Larry Jent (who also needs a legislative webpage) of Bozeman, deal with water issues. SB93 clarifies groundwater appropriations in closed basins, and (very importantly) requires mitigation for net depletion of surface. The requirement of mitigation for net depletion is key – the current code merely recommends “if necessary.” SB94 revises laws concerning ground water appropriation in closed basins. In addition to further clarifying the hydrogeologic assessment requirements, it eliminates mitigative measures such as removal of vegetation (innovative, huh?). Both of these are in Natural Resources – snowakowski@mt.gov.

In the House, Rep. Jill Cohenour of Helena has 3 bills in the House Natural Resources related to water: SB39, SB40 and SB41. SB39 establishes a water rights enforcement program, associated appropriations and provides for consideration and protection of senior water rights holders in enforcement actions. SB40 generally revises provisions in the water permitting process, but importantly, it allows for objections to be heard in informal hearings. SB41 requires discharge permits to be obtained. All three are in the House Natural Resources Committee – Joe Kolman is the staffer, jkolman@mt.gov

Rep. Pat Ingram, of Thompson Falls has proposed HB18, on behalf of the State Administration and Veterans’ Affairs interim committee. It provides for a pilot program of mail-in ballots for certain counties for certain elections, for 2009 and 2010. It affects 17 counties: Big Horn, Blaine, Carbon, Carter, Gallatin, Jefferson, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Missoula, Phillips, Pondera, Ravalli, Richland, Rosebud, Sanders, Sweet Grass, and Yellowstone. This is in the House State Administration committee, sheffelfinger@mt.gov.

I’ll be looking at Thursday and Friday later this week.

If any ya’all want to adopt-a-bill, any of the 100’s that have been proposed, shoot me an email. It’s over there on the right under Pages.




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