At the Missoula transmittal potluck

by Pete Talbot

Missoula County Democrats held the traditional transmittal potluck dinner Sunday evening at University Congregational Church, recognizing the work Missoula’s delegation has done at the halfway point of this legislative session. Our state representatives and senators updated the crowd and took questions.

Before my take on their message, here are some general impressions:

About 150 folks attended and the food flowed. The mood was upbeat — which is what everyone needed after a brutal first half. The mix — the usual suspects and the new, younger faces; the organizers, the party faithful, some newbies — were there to support the daunting work the delegation has done to date. Legislators were happy to look out over a sea of friendly faces, which has not been a common occurrence for them in Helena.

I counted ten Missoula area legislators. I didn’t go there to take notes, so these are rough observations.

One of the big concerns was the number of referendums that could appear on the 2012 ballot. You know, some of those wacky bills that didn’t make it out of the legislature or were vetoed by the governor: nullification, the assualts on the environment, land use, abortion rights, etc.

Just what Montana needs, a dozen unconstitutional, anti-voter and just plain silly referendums that will clutter the ballot. The far right will continue pushing regressive legislation long after this session is over.

And enough crazy bills have already been introduced that they’re getting national attention, something the Missoula delegation noted: most Montanans don’t like the negative publicity.

Also, legislators mentioned some of the bad bills that could cost the state millions in federal dollars; which doesn’t seem to upset the Teapublicans. Health, human services, and environmental programs that generate funding and jobs; all looking at cuts.

And then there’s education, especially higher education (when we need it the most). More cuts.

Our legislators noted they’d been able to kill some of the most heinous bills. The delegation has been holding together well. They’re not in lock step, though, as evidenced in their varying support on eminent domain bills.

Many Missoula ordiances are under attack, and legislators noted the irony of the anti-big governement forces that advocate for local control and then dismiss the will of Missoula voters.

Budget issues are coming up in the next 45 days. There’s the governor’s budget, the legislative analysist’s budget and the Republican budget; the Republican budget being the most pessimistic and least forward thinking, as usual.

I’m just scratching the surface but here’s what I came away with: Keep those Capitol visits, emails and phone calls coming. Write a letter to the editor. Get ready to work hard on the 2012 elections.

And from me: support your Missoula Area legislators — they’re doing as good a job as is humanly possible up there in Helena.

  1. ayn rand

    Pete. The new party of NO. And lockstep…..maybe one or two bills where you lost control of your hardworking dems from Missoula.

  2. carfreestupidity

    Sounds like progressives need their own set of ballot initiatives to point at and get out the vote in 2012.

    I propose a ballot initiative that nullifys the legislative authority to overturn voter initiatives.

  3. ayn rand

    how about nullifying the Gov and the Real ID stuff.

  4. Missoula Gal

    Thanks for the update Pete. I wish I could have attended the meeting. I am, however, most glad that we have a Governor with the ability to veto the ridiculous bills coming out of the Republican side of the aisle this year.

  5. What’s wrong with ballot referendums Pete?

    If these ideas are as bad as you libs believe, the voters will reject them.

    • Pete Talbot

      Good point, Coobs. Might as well just dissolve the whole freakin’ legislature and let every decision be made by referendum. I’m really looking forward to that 300-page ballot.

      • Missoula Gal

        I understand and agree with Pete’s point. Though I must say that right now the thought of dissolving the current legislature us quite appealing.

        • Pete Talbot

          I made my tongue-and-cheek comment to Coobs in haste, Missoula Gal. In retrospect, dissolving this current legislature might not be an awful idea but it probably sets a bad precedent.

          • Well Pete, we don’t live in a Democracy, and that’s a good thing, because in a Democracy 51% of the voters can make life hell for the other 49% –

            But in some cases, where politics cannot be resolved, putting it up for a vote tends to settle issues.

            Occasionaly bad legislation gets through the voters, like prohibition, the cyanide ban, and the loosely written marijuana initiative, but for the most part voters have a history of getting issues right.

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