Archive for April 5th, 2009

by jhwygirl

There are a number of committee hearings for Monday through Wednesday. Here is the complete list.

It’s a hard pick on which industry has gotten more attempts at free passes this session: coal or coal bed methane. There’s been a bevvy of bills for both, and Monday House Taxation hears one sucky bill, while House Federal Relations, Energy and Telecommunications hears another doozy and even the Senate Natural Resources Committee gets into the act with yet another horrible, horrible environmental bill. Wednesday brings one more in House Natural Resources.

House Taxation hears SB499, which would reduce coal severance tax rates for new production for green facilities. Well – green coal is a fallacy, at least around these parts. Whatever efforts are done to make the stuff “appear” green is completed with costly carbon-rich efforts including ridiculous pipelines associated with the untested savior method of carbon sequestration. The machinery and infrastructure associated with “cleaning” coal negate any resulting so-called clean efforts. Hopefully House Taxation will kill this ridiculous bill, which didn’t get support from key environmental supporters in the Senate including Carol Williams, Christine Kaufmann, Carol Juneau and David Wanzenried. Even Republican Jim Shockley didn’t see fit to vote for it. Jennifer O’Loughlin is the secretary –

House Federal Relations, Energy and Telecommunications hears SB498. This bill legislates the myth of untested carbon sequestration. Button Valley Press does far better at explaining its ills and faults here with CO2 Going To The Birds and here with Captive Carbon?. The latter is pretty scary…don’t pass that post by. This is another one we hope that the House can stop here in committee. Bryce Bennett is the secretary –

Senate Natural Resources hears HB575 from Democrat Rep. Bill McChesney. McChesney’s a favorite around these parts – not! This bill would revise water laws relating to coal bed methane grant special status to coal bed methane extractors and exempt them from water permitting laws. Just another strike against senior water rights, I guess. This stuff is so damned offensive, I can not believe that anyone – Republican or Democrat – could stand for such a bill that stomps so directly on property rights. Then there is the corporate welfare-socialistic part of it. Give it away? Anything they request? WTH?! Sonja Nowakowski is the secretary for Senate Natural Resources –

Tuesday brings SB507, regarding the use of the state’s riverbeds. I didn’t like this before, I dislike it even more now that its way out of the Senate. Anything sanctioning obstructions to public access in the state’s waterways is bad stuff. We champion the Bridge Access Bill yet this thing is making its way through the legislative process? Another WTH? Maybe House Taxation (just the place a river bill needs to be, right?) will come to its senses and at least amend this bill to eliminate permanent obstructions in the river. Jennifer O’Loughlin is the secretary –

House Taxation also hears Sen. Roy Brown’s SB490 which further increases tax exemptions to business equipment. Bob Decker, of The Policy Institute, explains the lunacy and lies behind bills like this with Horse Trading and the Business Equipment Tax over at Session 61. Check the fiscal note on this one – it is atrocious. Legal concerns, significant local government impact. Ugly. See Jennifer O’Louglin’s contact information above….

Wednesday brings us another special treatment bill for {drumroll….} coal bed methane. SB505, from Republican Sen. Keith Bales (and Democrat Bill McChesney) would provide for a temporary water permit for this so-called beneficial use water brought up from the ground during coal bed methane extraction. Look – all of these water related bills concerning coal bed methane are an attempt to get around a recent Montana Supreme Court ruling which said that the long-standing practice and interpretation by various state agencies concerning ‘beneficial uses’ of the water was illegal. Even more – a recent scientific study concludes that coal bed methane wells harm groundwater. Yet another one that we hope House Natural Resources can put to bed in committee. Shirley Chovanak is the secretary for House Natural Resources –

There it is folks. Remember, when emailing a committee secretary, request that your comments be forwarded to the entire committee. If you haven’t the time to email, call the legislative information desk (which opens at 7:30 a.m.) at 406-444-4800 and leave a message for the entire committee in one quick call.

It’s your government. Monday is legislative day #75 – only 15 more days left to the first session.

by jhwygirl

Tyler Gernant, an attorney out of Missoula, has officially announced his campaign for U.S. House of Representatives – you know, that seat held by Dennis “It’s only pork when others vote for it, but I can still take credit for it” Rehberg?

His website is up, and here’s his announcement video:

Check him out. I’m all about having more choices which naturally leads to better choices. Who doesn’t like fresh choices that have new ideas?

Gernant is the second Democrat to enter the race for U.S. House of Representatives. Dennis McDonald, chair of the Montana Democratic Party, recently officially announced his intentions to run, after whispers which began even while Jim Hunt was actively running in 2008 against Rehberg.

by jhwygirl

This one comes entirely from my good Democratic friend Joan Vetter Ehrenberg in the Flathead:

Here we go again, Republicans, now those in the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, are cutting the funding for the Healthy Kids Initiative (CHIP) out of HB 2 and losing necessary matching federal funds that are a win/win for our budget and the funding formula for CHIP. The voters of Montana overwhelmingly approved extending health benefits for the Children’s Health Insurance Program to more than 30,000 additional children with the Healthy Kids Ballot Initiative.

Voters knew what they where voting for and have every right to have the initiative fully funded and access to federal matching funds, not a refusal or a watered down version of the program by Senate Republicans.

Now more than ever, there will be increased demand for children whose families are unable to afford health insurance. Please, make the time to call now and get involved. All of our expenses go up when 30,000 children in Montana don’t have health insurance. That’s why 70% of Montanan’s voted for the Healthy Kids Initiative.

Hold your Senator accountable by emailing them at or calling them at 406-444-4800 and ask them to vote yes for fully funding the Healthy Kids Initiative. Thank you.

Farmer, over at Left in the West has another take on the situation.

Republicans are a piece of work. They keep talking cuts-cuts-cuts, yet isn’t that what we got stimulus money for? To, in part, shore up the state’s budget so that necessary programs didn’t see drastic or damaging reductions?

Sen. David Wanzenried (D-Missoula) said people getting laid off or facing hard times are the people who need government help from the programs in the budget, and that money exists to maintain them at needed levels. “It seems to me we can be bold if we want to, and figure out how we’re going to do that.”

Sen. Carol Williams (D-Missoula) explains that the Senate Republicans may not have the votes needed to make the changes they are pushing for:

Williams said late Thursday that Senate Republicans have been working with Democrats and the Schweitzer administration to find some agreement on “the really touchy issues,” but hadn’t found common ground.

She also said she wasn’t sure whether Senate Republicans had enough votes on their own to make changes in the budget bill or pass it. Republicans hold an 11-8 majority on the Finance Committee and a 27-23 majority in the full Senate.

Democrats in the Senate might offer some votes for the budget bills, but not if it means cutting substantial funds out of education or the Healthy Montana Kids program, Williams said.


To reach the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, contact Prudence Gilroy the secretary – Make sure to request that your comments be forwarded to the entire Senate Finance and Claims Committee. You can also call the legislative information desk and leave a message for the entire committee in one easy phone call to 406-444-4800.

by jhwygirl

Missoula resident Janet Murdock, who is in her last painful stages of ovarian cancer, is being denied physician-assisted suicide despite a December Montana District Court ruling, Baxter v. Montana, by Judge Dorothy McCarter which said that Montana residents have a right to assistance when it comes to matters of the “right of a competent terminally (ill) patient to die with dignity.”

Then Attorney General Mike McGrath appealed McCarter’s decision, but the request was dismissed, which means that the current ruling which delineates a fundamental right for Montana citizens to die with dignity stands.

Baxter died the day of McCarter’s initial ruling.

Janet Murdock is 67, terminal, and in hospice care in a stage described by physicians as “actively dying.” Missoulian’s Tristan Scott had a thorough piece in yesterday’s paper detailing Murdock’s current situation.

Compassion & Choices, an organization which supports, advocates and educates on issues of the right to die with dignity, argued on behalf of Baxter in the December court hearing. Legal Director Kathryn Tucker, who argued the case with Montana litigator Mark Connell, spoke on behalf of Ms. Murdock:

“Physicians either have not heard about the decision or do not understand its implications for practice. We must remedy this. Surely in this context ‘justice delayed is justice denied,’ as patients who are currently confronting end-stage terminal illness will not live to see the Montana Supreme Court rule.”

Ms. Murdock had found some relief with the December ruling and subsequent dismissal of McGrath’s appeal, knowing that her right to die when the time came would come with dignity. In a press release from Compassion & Choices, she says that those feeling have turned to disappointment as her physician has denied her the access to the prescriptions she needs. From Scott’s piece in the Missoulian:

“I have suffered so much that I have considered throwing myself into a snowbank to die of hypothermia. Does Montana’s medical community care more about anti-choice extremists who may disapprove, or about people like me who may suffer, and be left to an unbearably painful end of life?”

I will pray for Janet Murdock today. I am sorry that her last days are being spent in horrible unbearable pain, seeking relief, and without the support of her physician. In these last moments, Janet is speaking out and advocating for those that will come after her. There are hearts and hands in this community that support you, Janet.

Godspeed to you, Janet Murdock. May peace come quickly.

As I write this, know that there is at least one other Montanan being denied the same assistance from their physician to help them die with dignity.

sunday favorites…


by problembear

just gotta love the big hole if you are a fish loving bear….here are some favorites i picked out to while away on with your spring time sunday thoughts…


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meanwhile for the s.o. and i, it’s off to ekstroms for a great sunday brunch then the maiden launch of the new pontoon boat (sold the clackacraft drift boat last week) no more untangling  guests fly lines or waiting for the other fisher people to show up….solo fishing here i come.

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