Tonbridge MATL Successfully Buys Our Montana Legislature

by jhwygirl

Proponents of HB198, the 62nd Legislature’s eminent domain bill, repeatedly admitted during debate on the Senate floor this afternoon (after a successful morning “blast” of the bill to get it to 2nd reading) that this bill was written and moved through the legislature to solve one issue, and one issue only – the Montana-Alberta Tie Line’s failure to negotiate in good faith with property owners along the line.

Not one proponent suggested that the bill was written to protect Montana citizens.

There was discussion about jobs – the 70 or so jobs (as put forth in the information provided by Tonbridge to the U.S. State Department and the State of Montana) as justification for handing over private property takings rights to private entities.

So now “jobs” is a sufficient public interest. Jobs. Economic development – all key words being lobbed around like crack candy on the floor today. Wasn’t that the case in Kelo v. City of New London?

At least one proponent of the bill tried to argue that Kelo wasn’t even related, but clearly he hadn’t read the case.

Amendments were offered and proponents argued that there wasn’t enough time to get ‘er done because they would have to go back to the House and so the bill needed to be passed as it was written.

One Democrat Senator said he knew the bill was bad and while there wasn’t time to fix it, he was going to vote for the bill because he was counting on Governor Schweitzer to fix it with amendatory vetoes.

These are your private property rights we’re talking about here, Montana! Hell be damned with them, I guess!

Debate was long, impassioned and respectful. It was – as gubernatorial candidate Senator Wanzenried pointed out – an excellent and fine example of good honest debate on a bill that had strong supporters from both sides of the aisle debating both sides of the issue.

An interesting example of that was proponent Sen. Wittich (R-Bozeman) who questioned Senate President Jim Peterson (R-Buffalo) for passing out what he identified as a “Fact Sheet” on HB198….a fact sheet that was prepared by a Tonbridge/MATL attorney.

A “fact” Peterson tried to deflect.

A disappointing 28 – 22 vote puts HB198 to third reading tomorrow at 8 a.m.

I hope you have read previous postings here on HB198 – and if not, clicking through the links provided here will get you to most of it. If you’ve done that, you know that this is a dangerous bill – a lazy bill thrown together with little real analysis of the situation and written to resolve a big business issue (that arose out of Canada, in fact) instead of being written to address and protect private property interests.

In Texas they’re strengthening private property rights and here in Montana they’re giving them away to private companies out of Canada.

Please take the time to CONTACT A SENATOR or two or five… fact, I’d focus on any one of the 28 that voted in favor of HB198.

Of note, Senator Kendall Van Dyk switched his vote – switiching not only his committee vote to table this behemoth, but switching his vote of NO to blasting this thing into second reading.

Some other disappointments (on both sides of the aisle)?
Senator Mary Cafferro, normally someone whose vote I’ve never questioned.

Senator Brad Hamlett and Senator Bob Hawks both who – also – switched their vote from NO on the blast to YES for this ugly.

Senator Verdell Jackson? Isn’t he supposed to be conservative?

Same with Ravalli County Senators Bob Lake and Jim Schockley – Schockley notably a lawyer and one who, too, admitted that this bill was bad as written but there “wasn’t enough time to fix it.”

Tomorrow’s Senate floor session begins at 8 a.m. Take the time tonight to email these Senators….and if you are reading this in the morning, phone lines open up at 7:30..and often they start late because of caucus, so DO give a call at 406-444-4800 and leave a message for up to 5 senators telling them NO WAY on HB198.

  1. lizard19

    it seems to be an effective tactic: wait, wait, wait, then OMG there’s not enough time so PUSH PUSH PUSH.

    thank you j-girl for keeping attention on this.

  2. Powerfarmer

    I’m sure that Peterson’s son-in-law is the one that got that “fact sheet” to the Buffalo from Buffalo. Watch the next thing that MATL will do is try and get tax breaks from the counties on the line, where’s that needed tax money then? Those that voted for this, that got money for their campagins last time can forget it next time.

  3. Powerfarmer

    Funny thing is, some of the Greenest Senators that are clamoring that this is needed to spur wind power don’t realize that this power will go up to the tar sands which they hate.

  4. mr benson

    It’s not surprising that “greenest senators” would vote yes. Green has never respected individual freedom. They’d like to tell you what kind of car you drive and where you live and what you live in, and what kind of food you eat, right down to what kind of light bulbs you use.

    What I’m truly surprised at is the new found respect for property rights by some on the left. Good for you. Now let’s get a federal balanced budget amendment, and keep the “lord of the manor” government at bay.

    We aren’t serfs and government doesn’t have a right to our money or any other of our property.

  5. ladybug

    Erickson, Williams, Kauffman and Jent all voted Yes. Lemmings in a full sprint to the finish line. Insane.

    On the stupid scale, this may surpass the deregulation votes Democrats cast that took down Montana Power, and raised power bills by more than double.

    Beyond the Tester screw-ups, why would anyone with a shred of decency and common sense vote for Democrats in 2012? Mass system failure!

    • It is completely wrong to blame any one party for the failures in votes (votes in support of) HB198. Wanzenried debated quite passionately (with a number of good points into the future with the mess this bill will create) as an opponent to this bill. As did Windy Boy.

      It was not a party line vote…and as Mr. Benson gets at: Aren’t Republicans supposed to protect property rights?

  6. Chuck

    For those against the line and the jobs that it would provide I would ask that you each hire an extra couple of people this summer and pay them a decent wage.

    • Powerfarmer

      I am not against the line. I am against the bullying tactics that this company uses. I am against the not negotiating in good faith. I am against the clause buried in some of the easement contracts that says if the company sells out to another company, that the new company isn’t required to continue paying annual rental payments. I am against them hiding behind needing federal stimulus money or it will fail but before stimulus appeared they said it would be paid off in five years. I am not even against the wind power generated here going up to the tar sands and being used to extract the oil.

      I am against a crooked company not the line or the further wind development or the jobs or the taxes it will bring.

    • and here i thought expressing an opinion was a right, chuck…..

      but then, i guess when individual private property rights are negotiated away by those who want to benefit crooked companies, it would be a small step to question the freedom of speech of those who disagree with you, too. right?

      jobs are important right now. but, are they important enough to sacrifice constitutional rights?

      i am guessing if brian signs this bill, we will get a chance to find the answer to that question in the supreme court.

  1. 1 Sen. Jeff Essmann to Announce Bid for Governor « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] fact, I’m still wanting to write up Wanzenried’s statement on that ugly bill – and I WILL get to it one day. Sen. Wanzenried was the only Senator of the Missoula […]

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