Secession Talk, Part II

by jhwygirl

The Rep. Gordon Hendrick’s promotion of secession talk for parts of Missoula County continues to bug me.

We’ve got a state representative here who represents an area that is more Missoula County than it is Mineral County (about 60%), promoting – or looking into – the secession of a region of Missoula County to Mineral County. He’s not been down to the local courthouse in Missoula to see what those county commissioners down there think about it, yet along inquire about the issues the so-called 70-80% of Petty Creek residents have that is precipitating such a drastic request. You kinda think he’d head down to that governmental body first and try and help things out there – since he’s such a helpful guy and all – instead of adding up the tax dollars a particular group of home down there pays.

He might try, too, knocking more than a handful of doors up Petty Creek. Apparently, Hendrick’s hasn’t really contacted a majority of residents there.

Beyond that, we’ve go a state legislator that is apparently very unaware of the Montana Constitution: Article IX of the Montana Constitution mandates that the boundaries of Montana’s counties remain as they are until approved by a majority of those voting on the question in each county affected.

I mean, really? From the time Hendrick caught wind of the issue – to talking to whomever he talked to – to figuring out the money – to scheduling the meeting with the county – and so on and so on – it didn’t dawn on him to look into the law surrounding the issue of changing a political boundary within the state?

Come to think about it – maybe it isn’t so shocking. We’ve got a bunch of laws out of this last legislative session alone that are “illegal” out of the hatch. Maybe there needs to be some sort of basic government 101 class for our elected people up there in Helena, because here’s how it is folks: In Montana, aside from that pesky U.S. Constitution that trumps all, at the top of the heap we’ve got the Montana Constitution. Our legislators – even if every single one of ’em agreed – can not write a law (Montana Code Annotated) that contradicts (violates) that Constitution. From there, we’ve got Administrative Rules….and those are implemented to uphold law (MCA)…and those, too, have to uphold everything above it.

Many legislators – and even some executives – in our government, it seems, forget that. We’ve got laws, for example, that are written to ignore the Montana Environmental Protection Act (Article IX of our Montana Constitution). I’ll take a lesser politically polarizing (polarizing nonetheless, but not in the R vs. D kind of way) example: Rep. Ed Butcher’s horse slaughter bill HB418. Out of the hatch, Butcher proposed a bill that exempted horse slaughter plans from MEPA review and and MEPA appeal to the courts to shut it down. That was illegal out the hatch. Shouldn’t of even gotten out of committee, but it did with some amendments. Eventually the thing made it through two committees, two floor votes – remaining essentially intact with buffers from MEPA challenges and impediments to making those challenges – and up to the Governor’s office. He offered an amendatory veto (being concerned about the Constitution and all), which was ignored…and then the Governor signed it into then the Governor left it for two weeks, allowing it to become law anyway.

MEPA, in fact, was a favorite target of laws which were introduced by both our legislators and our state agencies to circumvent that pesky Montana Constitution.

But getting back to Rep. Gordon Hendrick – who has announced that he will not be seeking re-election. Unless he’s willing to propose a constitutional amendment to then take it to the voters of both Mineral and Missoula counties, he might as well move on to his next biggest and latest project, whatever it may be.

But please – leave it within a county line, OK?

  1. Pronghorn

    If memory serves (and it doesn’t always) Schweitzer allowed the horse slaughter bill to lapse into law by taking no action in the allotted time. Way to take a stand for the constitution and the people, Bri.

    • You are completely correct, Pronghorn. He did allow that to lapse into law. The effect was that same as you mention – Constitution? Fuggetaboutit. Put the burden on the citizens to come up with the cash to fight an unconstitutional law and the State of Montana.

      Post was corrected. Thanks.

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