Archive for March 15th, 2009

by jhwygirl

This post covers Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. There’s a lot – I don’t know how many.

It’s real important, folks, to get your public comment in. Bills have – in most cases – moved from one house to the other. Either getting them out of committee and onto the floor or killing them is what is at stake here. For example – on Tuesday Rep. Krayton Kerns has his HB228, which is the gun bill which would eliminate a need for concealed weapons permits. It’s one of the most insane parts of this bill (which has been amended significantly since submittal) – it would only be a crime to carry a concealed weapon if you’ve used said concealed weapon to commit a crime. Get that? It would be legal to carry a concealed weapon up to the point where you commit a criminal offense. Some of the groups that have opposed this bill includes numerous law enforcement agencies, advocates for victims of sexual and domestic violence, and the Montana County Attorney’s Association.

So – as my example of why comment is important – this bill passed a floor vote in the evenly split house 60-40. It’s now in Senate Judiciary where it is possible that some sanity will make a showing. In the House, where members are elected every two years, many of those votes might be considered reactionary. Pam Schindler is the secretary – pschindler@mt.gov. Make sure to mention the bill number and request that your comments be forwarded to committee members.

Getting down to business

There are no committee hearings scheduled for Monday in the House? At least that is what the legislative website is telling me. Weird. Guess that means that there will be a whole bunch of executive action (votes) on past hearings: committee meetings for Monday include Appropriations, Business & Labor, Education, Federal Relations, Energy, and Telecommunications, Human Services, Judiciary, Natural Resources, State Administration, Transportation, and Taxation.

In Senate Public Health, Welfare & Safety are three good bills: Rep. Cary Smith has two – HB263 which would ensure a patient’s right to know costs of medical procedures and HB264 which would ensure a patient’s right to know insurer coverage provisions for medical procedures.

Rep. Margaret Macdonald has HB214 would allow for Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women and bring income limits into line with federal standards. The fiscal note is out on this, and there should be no reason to see this one falter. Joan Linkenbach is the secretary for Senate Public Health, Welfare & Safety – jlinkenbach@mt.gov.

A good environmental bill: In Senate Natural Resources is Rep. Dan Villa with HB593, which would provide requirements and timelines for mine and smelter waste remediation projects. This one came out of the House with bipartisan support – 75-25, so let’s keep it moving. Lindsey Hern the secretary – lhern@mt.gov

Hard-working Missoula Rep. Michele Reinhart has HB522 in Senate Local Government ensures that parcels created via foreclosure or other court actions meet local zoning regulations. This one, too, had bipartisan support in the House. Libby Goodwin the secretary, lgoodwin@mt.gov

Now to Tuesday, we’ve got Sen. Gary Perry has SB437 which would prohibit the licensure of ponds using exempt ground water appropriations. Obviously, I love this one…exemptions to ground water appropriations are horrible. Until we can clear that up – and it will happen, I promise – laws like this are good. This had nice bipartisan support in the Senate – let’s keep this moving, too. In House Fish, Wildlife & Parks – Bryce Bennett the secretary – bbennett@mt.gov.

Sen. Bob Story is seeking a joint resolution urging Montana’s congressional representation to introduce legislation that would legalize industrial hemp. Hemp is a great product that can be used for everything from rope and cloth to food and industrial oils to biomass for fuel. In House Agriculture – Marshall McEwen the secretary – mmcewen@mt.gov.

On to Wednesday, another good one from Sen. Gary Perry is SB174 which would establish requirements for advanced pharmacist practitioners. This is a bill that is being done in anticipation of impending changes to Medicare and Medicaid. This is in House Business and Labor, Santella Baglivo the secretary, sbaglivo@mt.gov.

In House Taxation, Missoula’s Rep. Dick Barrett is seeking changes to tax laws that would provide tax withholding for nonresident sales of Montana real estate. HB647 is a good one, folks. We’ve got enough tax cheats from out of state – this law would help capture some of those lost tax revenues. Jennifer O’Loughlin the secretary – joloughlin@mt.gov

Rep. Gary MacLaren wants to tighten up laws regarding off-road vehicles and their unlawful usage over public lands closed to off-road usage. HB614, you can bet, will have plenty of advocates up there crying about how public lands should be open to their uncontrolled resource damage. Send some love to this one folks. In House Transportation – Katie Butcher the secretary – kbutcher@mt.gov.

Butte Democrat Sen. Jim Keane has a hearing for SB417, which would prohibit challenges to agencies based on violations of MEPA. Does this guy realize he’s a Democrat? That the state party platform spells out a commitment to our environmental laws? That MEPA is the outcome of our constitutional guarantee to a clean and healthful environment? And he’s from Butte? Didn’t Butte suffer tremendously under corporate environmental pollution? Bad water? And that Berkley Pit isn’t done dishing out its garbage yet?

Further, this horrible, horrible bill made it out of the Senate with a 29-21 vote, meaning two Democrats voted for this thing. Ugh. This is in House Federal Relations, Energy, and Telecommunications, Bryce Bennett the secretary – bbennett@mt.gov.

Ugh. I’ve had enough. Make sure to check out the complete list of hearings for these three days.

Please remember – if writing an email to the secretary of a committee, use the bill number and specifically request that it be distributed to the members of the committee. Your email can be as short as “Please vote NO” and include your name and address.

Calling is easy too – you can call the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for as many as five legislators or one legislative committee per call. Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462.

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by Pete Talbot

Well, there are a lot of differences between Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus, and some similarities, too.

And, IMHO. Jon isn’t perfect and Max isn’t all bad. As a matter of fact, if you compare Max to Rep. Denny Rehberg, Max looks like a compassionate, progressive statesman — but that isn’t setting the bar very high.

I think this vote speaks volumes, though. The original bill came out of the house as part of the $410 billion omnibus appropriations act (HR 1105). But the senate had to vote specifically on whether members of congress should vote on getting an automatic cost of living raise. Jon voted against the automatic raise. Max voted for it.

It’s hard to tell where Denny is on this one. He voted against HR 1105 but then that was a huge appropriations bill and the pay raise was just a tiny portion of it. He was NOT a co-signer of HR 156, which is a house bill denying the automatic pay raise that’s still in committee. This bill had 112 co-signers from both sides of the aisle, so I’m guessing that Denny, the 15th richest member of the house, is all for a pay increase but we’ll have to wait and see.

Maybe I’m missing something here.  Most Democrats voted the same way Baucus did and most Republicans voted with Tester.  But the Democrats that I have the most respect for, like Russ Feingold out of Wisconsin, voted with Tester.

Oh, and by the way, Max and Denny, how’s your taxpayer-paid health care treating you these days?

sunny-side-up21

by problembear

pb- “how do you like your eggs?”

s.o.- “i really, really like them.”

pb- ” no, i mean cooked.”

s.o.- “even better.”

this moment of annoying order taking

made in honor and remembrance of

Bill Idland

blues harmonica player & amateur

comedian for the waitresses at the

old 4B’s on west broadway after

closing down the top hat with friends

R.i.p.




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