Archive for the ‘2009 Legislative Session’ Category


Liz recently wrote about the squabbling inside the dem party about how best to expand Medicaid:

“Failure is often more instructive than success.”

While he has a point, I think that folks need to remember the battle over the Healthy Kids Initiative in 2008-2009.

Here’s the quick down and dirty: in 2008, Healthy Montana Initiative, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit ran a ballot initiative campaign to expand access to health care via CHIP and Medicaid for kids in low income families. The campaign was hugely successful and won at the state polls with 70% of voters supporting it. Kids… gotta love ’em, even it they comes from poor families.

Now the problem with initiatives in Montana is that while they can set up new programs and revenue streams, they can’t appropriate funds. So the initiative had to go the the 2009 Montana Legislature for an appropriation. That Legislature had a deadlocked 50-50 House, and Republicans controlled the Senate 27-23.

The appropriation for the initiative was rolled into HB2, the main funding instrument for the state. So, through a very rancorous session, with the House supporting the Initiative funding, and the Senate trying to gut it at every step of the way, the bill eventually passed with the appropriation intact and the CHIP and Medicaid expansion for poor kids was funded.

A newsletter from the MHRN characterized the legislative battle thusly:

“What was not foreseen was a partisan debacle where many Republicans put anti-government ideology ahead of the health of Montana communities and the clear will of the voters who elected them.

In a stunning disregard for the democratic initiative process, Republicans threatened funding for the Plan at every turn. A majority of Republicans in both the House and the Senate stated publicly and repeatedly that voters did not know what they were voting for and/or the Plan was a step towards ‘socialism.’ They threatened to withhold funding for the program.”

So we see that even when a solid majority of Montana voters give the Legislature a mandate to do something, that mandate goes by the wayside when politickin’ and legislatin’ season arrives. That Legislature was only mildly republican, with the words “tea party republican” yet to be coined during the aftermath of the Obama election, and the Baucus-care debacle. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

I noticed a brief – maybe 20 seconds – commercial on your station KTMF-TV around 5 o’clock this evening. It was Western Sky Financial offering its financial services to your viewing audience, which pretty much is solely in Montana.

I wasn’t really paying attention at all, but did hear the person in the ad say “If you need $2,500 in your checking account tomorrow then call Western Sky Financial. Yes, the money’s expensive but there’s no collateral required!”

As I mentioned – the ad was awfully quick…but I love my DVR for stuff like this (and political ads, city council meetings and legislative sessions) because when I backed up and replayed the commercial I noticed the numbers (barely) in real small fine print at the bottom of the commercial.

139% APR?

Max Media and ABC Montana and KTMF should know that those kind of loans are illegal here in the state. As a public media source with an FCC license, I would have to think you have some responsibility to not air advertisements for services that are illegal.

Western Sky, in fact, isn’t even registered with the Secretary of State here in in Montana.

It is my belief that regardless of the legal issues regarding the Western Financial Loan Sharking commercial, legitimizing these types of reprehensible loans that are illegal here in Montana and forbidden by federal law for all military personnel by airing 20 second ads that flash toll free numbers guaranteeing no-collateral $2,500 loans over the phone isn’t something you should be doing.

I will be contacting the Secretary of State regarding both Western Financial and the legal ability of any Montana media source to sell and air station time for their ads and any other business like it.

Montana voters did not overwhelmingly vote to make these businesses illegal only to have advertising sources such as your stations to gain revenue by selling ad space to out-of-state loan sharks.


/s/ Dawn Quixote

by jhwygirl

I got nothing, really, against guns. I don’t want to take anyone’s gun away and I believe people have a right to own guns.

What I also think is that we have a bunch of gun-worshiping advocate freaks in this state that push dangerous legislation. I think if you want to open carry in your walk around the neighborhood (or the Capitol, for that matter) you are a little bat-crap crazy.

Unless, perhaps, you live up Nine Mile, or Red Lodge or Sula. Not carrying a gun under certain conditions might be just plain stupid.

That being said, I’m going out on a limb here and saying that I bet this guy is one of those gun-worshiping advocates.

You know – the Radio Shack Dish Network satellite guy down in Hamilton giving a free gun away with any dish?

So that story hit the paper on Friday…this morning, I see it on CNN. Not only that Mr. Radio Shack is saying the name “Dish Network” on CNN.


Then, later in the day I read true-blue Irishman Peter McCay on twitter that his sister called him from the land of Eire asking if “the offer was good in Libya.”

Later, got a link for Belfast Telegraph

Sweet, huh?

Later in the day, Whitney Bermes, local government reporter for the Ravalli Republic (and first reporter on the free-gun-with-satellite-dish story) was back interviewing Mr. Radio Shack again, and guess what? The BBC called.

And, just to complete my twitter-as-news research, I put “Montana gun” in the twitter search and came up with so many tweets with so many news stories from around the world, I could only wonder how long the guy is going to continue giving out gun certificates.

There’s a wealth of comments in there with “only in Montana” and “redneck” and references to incest and marrying cousins and stuff. Do make sure to take a read.

by jhwygirl

The Daily Chronicle editorial boards’ endorsements focus on anti-partisanship as an ideal qualification – they use the word partisanship at least 4 times in the piece. When an editorial board says Pomnichowski’s opponent Burnett “is too ideologically rigid to be effective in the Legislature,” had to hurt. Burnett.


And I gotta give credit here, too, to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. How many papers actually endorse candidates anymore? The Missoula Independent does…who else?

Now…getting back: Burnett aside, the focus on why to re-elect JP Pomnichowski is the task at hand, and the Daily Chronicle concisely put together the reasoning:

“…Pomnichowski deserves a return trip to Helena. Her reasonableness and experience is needed, and she was successful in her last two terms in carrying legislation that has done good things for southwest Montana, particularly downtown Bozeman.”

JP Pomnichowski has been a legislative fan favorite for me for her last two sessions, and being that I’m sitting at a computer, I can easily prove the stuff I’m saying. For one, Pomnichowski is one hard working legislator. I’ve known that – but checking the legislative website, I find that she’s successfully carried seven bills forward this last legislative session. 7? That is nothing short of amazing.

I’d say that at least meets the definition of effective.

Lest the loonies come out and say she is anti-property rights – that seems to be a favorite substantiated talking point from the right – Pomnichowski worked hard to protect private property rights by working to revise laws related to gravel pit mining – and issue that was impacting fast-growing Gallatin county pretty hard. The revisions in law enhance the public information process for permits, helping to give both property owners the right to be informed from the beginning, and helping to ensure that the mining operators know all the rules from the get-go and helped move the backlog of permits.

Protecting private rights from too-much government oversight? Pomnichowski successfully carried a bill that required government agencies to protect private information.

And that’s just a partial rundown of 2009, folks.

I like JP because when she talks about her work, she talks about it in terms of the people she represents. It isn’t politics for her – it’s about the people.

And her record shows it.

by jhwygirl

Montana’s resident gun nut and lunatic lobbyist had his lawsuit against the U.S. government dismissed this afternoon for what was basically a lack of standing.

See, Marbut and his Montana Shooting Sports Association tried to sue the federal government for relief from something that hadn’t happened. See, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had yet to stop Montana from NOT regulating something that it doesn’t regulate already.

Get this circular logic?

See, Marbut successfully (so note that, people – HB246 passed a majority in the evenly split state house (84-14) and a majority in the Republican-controlled senate…and Governor Schweitzer signed the thing into law) lobbied a bill through the last legislative session that exempted Montana built guns from federal regulation.

So Montana legislators passed a bill and our Governor Schweitzer signed that bill into law that said that guns made in the state of Montana were not subject to federal law.

Make sense? A state passing a law saying it isn’t subject to federal law?

Pretty soon, one of these Einstein’s are going to want to secede from the Union….history be damned.

How we’re going to ensure that these guns stay in Montana? Don’t think that’s of consequence to Montana and its taxpayers? It will be once some gun manufacturer sells a gun to someone out of state or sells it to someone who takes the thing out of Montana. So the taxpayers will be paying Bullock and his staff to defend the thing once the feds try and enforce their regulations.

Awesome, huh?

You wonder why all the escaped convicts run here? Wonder why we have all those crazy doomsday groups here? Nazis?

And you can damned well bet Marbut considers himself a conservative. Spending taxpayer money to defend his political agenda follies.

Consider, too, the irony of him having to file in federal court. Kinda makes me laugh – him filing a suit without standing in federal court, asking the feds to basically give him legitimacy.

Gotta love that.

Want to learn more about Marbut and Joel Boniek (the sponsor the bill mentioned above)? Check out this previous post which includes a YouTube video of Marbut and Boniek’s appearance on Fox News w/Glenn Beck.

Wonder if ol’ Glenn Beck and Fox News will cover this dismissal?

by jhwygirl

I am beyond disgusted with this kind of stuff. If I’ve never written to the fact that the Constitution is the ultimate law of the land, I’ve written nothing.

Today I find that the MT GOP, at its most recent convention, re-affirmed its 2008 platform calling for making homosexual acts criminal.

And lest you think I’m making this up – mainly because the page link I provided has been removed today by the MT GOP – here is a cached version, courtesy of the google.

Now – these Einsteins of the MT GOP apparently have no respect for the Montana Constitution, nor the United State’s Constitution. See, both the Montana Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States of America have struck down “anti-sodomy” laws.

The Montana Supreme Court did so in Gryczan v. State, 942 P.2d 112 (1997). Not only that, Gryczan and the right of privacy it has conferred has been reaffirmed over and over again by both the Montana courts and other state and federal courts repeatedly since its rendering.

The United States Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence et. al. V. Texas (02-102) 539 U.S. 558 (2003), finding a constitutional protection to sexuality. Only Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

In other words – it’s no government’s business what anyone does in their bedroom.

Where does it stop, MT GOP? What is it you want? Are there not enough problems out there facing Montanan’s? Have you no respect for the ultimate law of our land? Of our nation?

By Goddess, something is really failing us here, Montana – I am gosh darn sick and tired of politicians on both sides of the aisle proposing voting for passing and signing bills into law that violate the constitution (be it the Montana Constitution or the Constitution of the United States).

It’s beyond disrespectful that politicians think they can push the boundaries of these precious documents as if saying to The People “Go ahead and sue me – you can’t afford the fight.”

It’s pretty friggin’ simple – policies must obey rules; rules must obey laws; laws must obey the Constitution. It’s not a “sometimes” thing. It’s not something that should only followed when it’s convenient or when the “other party” is in charge

It’s all the time.

by jhwygirl

Here you go, smokey – here’s some of that irony I was talking about.

Remember just a few months ago when the Good Gov was blocking payments to Sen. Greg Barkus’ friends – $600,000 in state money to clean up environmental contamination on a site that Swank bought at a discounted price knowing it had to clean it up?

The Good Gov was rounding up all kinds of cash, slashing money for remodeling of the state hospital, asking for money-saving ideas from citizens, and cutting funding for lots of obscure boards. Populists loved it….even when he took the school trust money $86 million from the Otter Creek coal leases and added it to the general budget to shore up slipping revenues.

Last month, Schweitzer approved a freeze on provider-rate increases as part of a $40 million cut in state spending. This cut will cost $2 million to Montana nursing homes, which care for about 3,000 people funded by Medicaid. That’s 60 percent of their patients.

These cuts can’t occur without rule changes – and public comment is due May 28th. A hearing was held Wednesday – this link takes you to the public notice from the Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

Rose Hughes, executive director of the Montana Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, said Montana pays an average of $161 a day for nursing home patients covered by Medicaid, while the average cost for all patients is $179 a day.

Hughes argued Wednesday it’s not necessary to cancel the scheduled 2 percent increase in Medicaid rates, because the state’s budget picture has improved since earlier this year and Congress may approve additional Medicaid funding for all states.

She also said that as much as $1.6 million in state Medicaid nursing-home funds remain unspent, because of fewer “patient days” than expected this year.

Nursing-home administrators said they’re already operating on a very thin margin and that freezing Medicaid rates can’t help but affect care for all elderly residents.

“It’s going to result in diminished quality of care,” said Jackie Meyers, director of nursing at Laurel Health and Rehabilitation Center. “It will result in increased unemployment. … Nursing home care is a necessity. It’s not a luxury.”

DPHHS is facing serious cuts – and we’ve not even gotten into the 2011 legislative session where the legislature is going to have to make deeper cuts to make up for the last-minute budget deal in the ’09 session in which permanent cuts were made that were shored up with stimulus cash. If it was one agency where this shouldn’t have been done, it was DPHHS.

Check out the DPHHS public notice page – there are cuts proposed to Medicaid inpatient and outpatient hospital services, cuts proposed to Medicaid reimbursement for hearing aid services, outpatient drugs, and eyeglasses, early and periodic screening, diagnostic and treatment services.

Cuts to home and community-based services for adults with severe disabling mental illness. Cuts to psychiatric residential treatment facility services.

The list goes on.

Many of these things are part of that “an ounce of prevention goes a long way” type of things? Early screening? Psychiatric treatment? Long-term effects will be felt in communities throughout the state.

I’m glad our Governor is watching out for our budget and working hard to keep us flush….but is he consistent? I have trouble seeing it. And as a Democrat, you’d think he’d find other things to save cash – like, perhaps, the Department of Livestock and its hazing of Yellowstone bison? Especially when you consider that our own State Veterinarian has verified that every known transmission of brucellosis to livestock has been the result of interaction with elk, and not bison.

How much does that hazing cost?

But cutting DPHHS services for Medicaid patients? Yeah – irony abounds. This is one where I find that both irony and inconsistency.

by jhwygirl

That’s what many said to the State Land Board (and to 3 of its 5 members, Governor Schweitzer, Secretary of State Linda McDulloch and Auditor Monica Lindeen) before then went ahead anyway and approved the Otter Creek coal leases.

Not before – let’s not forget – a poorly orchestrated show between Governor Schweitzer and Linda McCulloch, who first added a bonus bid of 15 cents/ton. Four of ’em played along in that one (with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau casting the lone dissenting vote), but in the end, even Attorney General Steve Bullock changed his mind, seeing through the corporate welfare that was, eventually, approved – a 40% drop in price (and let’s not feign that this was in any way a “bid” given that only one entity could competitively bid on it, given the land-locked nature of the state lands involved and the fact that the bidder is the one that land-locks the land) along with a $57 million instant subsidy of the coal corporate giants.

Can’t forget, either, that a railroad that will also need to be condemned through Montana’s eminent domain laws – that’s condemnation of private land in the interest of a private corporate entity, folks – a railroad that will save that private corporate entity well in the range of $100 million a year in hauling costs from Wyoming’s extensive coal fields down south.

Don’t try and tell me that coal isn’t subsidized – a industry as old as the world is still gaining both federal and state subsidy to operate. Ridiculous.

Oh, yeah – there was more. The votes were disappointing (Schweitzer, McCulloch and Monica I-campaigned-on-a-biodiesel-bus Lindeen). Even Button Valley was getting an overload of it, as was I, as Governor Brian Schweitizer headed out around the state pushing on communities to sign a oath to coal in order to get their legislatively appropriated stimulus money.

An illegal transgression that was largely overlooked – as was the stashing of that Otter Creek bid money in this year’s general budget instead of going to schools as it is legally obligated to do (along with that whole the-legislature-is-the-only-lawful-appropriator-of-money thing). It’s something that is coming home to roost, those illegal transgressions, and quickly becoming a private joke amongst many of us who railed against both of these things when they were occurring.

But we’ll leave that for another post, and the real journalists who are already asking the questions. Enable once, shame on you..enable twice, shame again…but sure as hell don’t get indignant about it the third time around…

Enter now Northern Plains Resource Council, the Wildlife Federation, Montana Environmental Information Center and the Sierra Club, who collectively filed two lawsuits this week challenging the Otter Creek coal lease approval.

NPRC and WF said that the state land board failed to adequately analyze the environmental effects of the project. MEIC and SC challenged on the basis of the economic and global warming effects of the project.

There are a myriad of problems with Otter Creek. I’m mystified as to the embracing – in a state that seems to champion individual property rights – of a project that will railroad over the private property rights of individuals (pun intended).

I’m also mystified that a state – in a time of general budget distress not only internally, but nationwide – would dish out such corporate welfare to the detriment of our very own children’s education funding.

What’s the real shame is that Montana’s citizens – and its very worthy non-profits – have to sue to get the state to meet its constitutional obligations outlined in what is known in our state constitution as the Montana Environmental Policy Act.

This can not and should not be taken lightly. I don’t care how many laws that the legislature passes or tries to pass attacking it. This is a constitutional guarantee. Guarantee. And this word can not be overemphasized enough. This isn’t some old state constitution. It is a modern document, with words that were carefully chosen, discussed and debated in modern many-remember-them times. Guarantee was not a word chosen or placed lightly, and it leaves little room for discussion.

It is the law of the land. Our state agencies, our land board and our Governor all have the obligation to make sure that guarantee is met each and every day. Shame on them for having to be sued to comply with constitutional obligations.

by jhwygirl

While poking around for elections information for yesterday’s post I came across a list of foreclosures here in Missoula County that runs from late November 2005 to its last update, February 9 of this year. There’s a total of 1505, with 914 of them occurring since July of 2008 (when the banking and finance industry took a big crap on the U.S.)

Now, I didn’t break it down to how many actually foreclosed – these numbers and the information on the County Clerk & Recorder’s website is for informational purposes only – but you can see the development of actual foreclosed homes increasing.

Hasn’t all the realtor talk been that there aren’t any more foreclosures than usual? That everything here in Missoula has been normal? Seems that if nearly 2/3 of all of the county’s foreclosures since November 2005 occurred in the last year and half, well – that’s a pretty steep increase in proceedings, no?

In my ‘hood there are scores of homes for sale. Some brand spanking new, and quite a few that have been lived in (you know these are foreclosures) for just about a year or so. You can’t drive a block without seeing one. I made the comment to a neighbor recently that a whole bunch of them are foreclosures, and she didn’t believe that could be true.

Few homes show the signs of foreclosure. There’s one down the street that actually has (or had) a foreclosure sign – and I’ve run across a handful that have a notice from the bank posted on the door, some saying that heat and water has been disconnected, “to protect bank interests” or something like that.

But if you look at that informational list, that’s quite a chunk of Missoula County hanging out there in foreclosure nether near land.

Thinking of buying? Wanting to get at what is almost certainly the last of first-time-homebuyers tax credit (which will expire April 31st?) I’d say take some time finding out who’s foreclosing on some of this stuff – in some case, you might have to go directly to the bank – and make yourself a deal. Realtors will say that the asking price is what is based on the last few sales – but take a moment to ask when those sales occurred. In some cases, those last few sales could be nearly a year ago. Regardless, with the kind of inventory that is listed on MLS – and a whole bunch of stuff that isn’t – there’s plenty of room to negotiate your way into a home.

I don’t think that tax credit is going to be renewed – I don’t really think it should. It’s artificially kept the housing industry propped up, keeping it from hitting the bottom it needs to hit. There may be a time when it should come back (like when the housing sector is truly on a rebound), but until then, I don’t think any politician of any persuasion is going to even bring forth a bill extending it, yet alone move the thing to an appropriations round.

I say that being a person that might benefit greatly by that tax credit. I don’t know the point in rushing to purchase anyways.
In my thinking, given that I don’t believe the market’s yet hit bottom, and given that just the mere act of purchasing a home give’s one a significant tax deduction, purchasing to take advantage of the credit seems foolhardy. It’s not like that money is given up front (like it was for cars a year ago.) Frankly, pushing to buy a house now under the tax credit might simply have the effect of softening the loss in value of the house as the market continues to tamp down to bottom after the April 31st tax credit expires.

It’s all a gamble, but that’s what I’m thinking. That is unless I find something interesting on that foreclosure list.

Remember that house I mentioned a while back? It’s still there, and last I heard (3 weeks ago) the price has come down by 10 grand…and the Christmas decorations just came down. The “For Sale” sign is still out front, but I can’t seem to find it on Missoula Organization of Realtors MLS website.

Another addendum: I try and check out the Billings Housing Blog regularly, and as I was finishing this post out, up came its most recent, reporting that Billings housing prices (weren’t they the healthiest in the state?) just dropped for the first time year after year since 1989

by jhwygirl

Feel threated? Shoot. The law allows it.

If you feel threatened, that crazy Krayton Kerns gun bill from this past legislative session gives you carte blanche to go right ahead and pull that trigger.

Any threat – even a fist fight – could result in someone pulling a gun.

So now duck-and-cover might be something you’ll want to consider next time a fight breaks out. Any old fight.

Consider yourself warned.

by jhwygirl

I’d been waiting….frankly, I was a little concerned that he might be recruited by some org in the private sector, and we’d loose a legislative superstar.

Senator Dave Wanzenried announced on Wednesday that he would be once again seeking the senate seat in senate district 49.

Wanzenried currently sits on several senate committees: Finance and Claims, Highways and Transportation, Natural Resources and Rules committees. He is also on the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.

In 2007-2008, he chaired the Environmental Quality Council, a product of the Montana Environmental Protection Act in our state constitution. He’s now moved over to vice-chair the Water Policy interim committee.

Ya’all know how I feel about water and natural resource issues.

Which brings me to reference the Missoulian article on his announcement. The article points to two issues Wanzenried highlighted. One being the value of small business to Montana’s economy, and fostering an environment that both bolsters business and enhances expansion.

The other? Water. Wanzenried is committed to solving Montana’s water issues. Issues and events are bringing water issues to an apex or a disaster, depending on your perspective. Here’s the senator on the issue:

“As water flows decline while the demand for water increases, there will be tensions amongst a large number of users: agriculture; municipal, hydroelectric, recreationists, fisheries,” he said. “In our efforts to plan for a drier future, we must preserve the rights of senior water rights holders, the cornerstone of Montana water law.”

by jhwygirl

Bryce Bennett hasn’t officially announced his run for Montana House District 92 yet – that comes at 5:30 p.m. this Tuesday at the Worden House at 328 East Pine – yet he’s already received the endorsement of state Superintendent of Public Instruction (and currently 4&20 b’bird ranked #1 Democrat in the state) Denise Juneau:

“Bryce Bennett has dedicated his career to making Montana a better place for everyone. A more convincing demonstration of leadership would be hard to find, and it’s a type of leadership badly needed in the Montana legislature.”

I like Bryce for a number of reasons, and one of ’em is that he has experience working in Helena, already. Bryce saw the nuts-and-bolts of the place while working in the 2009 legislative session for the Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and Federal Relations, Energy and Telecommunications Committees. That’s pretty big for me – and it’s a great way to hit the ground running…..especially when you consider that many head to Helena having not even attending a legislative hearing, yet alone read a piece of legislation. With that alone, Bryce is ahead of the curve.

Bryce enters the race to pick up Robin Hamilton’s seat, who has announced he won’t be running.

I do like Bennett’s comments on Juneau’s endorsement. They sum up some of the reasons why he is running…why he is worthy of your vote and why Denise is awesome:

Denise is someone I admired during her campaign and even more since she took office last year. She and I both care deeply for our education system and know that we can invest in no greater resource than the future of Montana students. We also share a passion for protecting the environment for future generations and I applaud her recent vote against allowing new coal mining in our state at Otter Creek.

For more information on Bryce Bennett’s campaign, check out his website.

by jhwygirl

I’ll be following this story.

They had to apprehend the husband.

I’ll also be be thinking about this previous post.

by jhwygirl

Kalispell’s Mike Jopek reminds taxpayers – most who are getting an average increase of 15%, but many out here on the western side of the state are getting hit much higher – who to thank when that bill comes in the mail.

All but one Senate Republican.
90% of House Republicans.
25% of House Democrats
50% of Senate Democrats.

House Republicans mangled his bill, so much so that even Jopek couldn’t vote for his own bill, in the end. “They ignored the fiscal note that said the bill would increase taxes dramatically for many,” Jopek said. The final days, in the Free Conference frenzy that is the last of the session, finals cuts and amendments were made that impacted many:

The Republican Senate hijacked the House version of the final mitigation bill and exempted only 85 percent of the effect of growth. The Senate amended the House bill, which mitigated 100 percent of reappraisal, and forced homeowners and downtown businesses to pay $6 million more in taxes over the biennium and another $6 million over the cycle.

Senate Republicans removed all the assistance to the elderly, disable, and poor homeowners and renters. Then Senate Republicans added a new tax on homes worth more that $1.5 million.

Take that new tax Republican’s added – Just where are all those $1.5 million homes? Oddly – Barkus voted for this bill, while Zinke, the lone Republican Senator, voted No.

Where else? Ravalli County – where both Sens. Liable and Shockley voted YES to the bill which added that special new tax.

In Bozeman? Only Sen. Bob Hawks held out, voting no.

$1.5 might sound like a lot – but in these places, it doesn’t take a lot to meet that threshold – especially if you are an older resident who bought your hope decades. In other words – maybe that threshold should have been a bit higher? So as not to capture up a bunch of lifelong residents, and instead maybe focused its grab on 2nd and 3rd home owners?

Jopek saves some love for realtors, too:

Over the years, the Montana Association of Realtors adamantly opposed our attempts to cap homeowner’s taxes to inflationary growth, to reappraise only upon the sale of a home, and to abate a portion of property taxes for homeowners whom file income taxes. Seems like lobbyists believe that if we stay put in our homes, it’s bad for their industry.

by jhwygirl

The July issue of The Interim came out a while back. It contained lots of stuff – go read it – but one bit of information I found interesting was the statistic roundup by the Legislative Services Division.

The 2009 session saw 1,314 bills introduced, which is the least amount in a legislative session since (at least) 2003.

How many telephone and web messages did that amount of legislation produce? 21,221 telephone messages resulting in 125,000 printed messages. That is more telephone messages than any previous year going back to the 2003 session.

How many web messages? 73,895 web messages were processed by the Session Information Desk – again, more than any other year previous going back to the 2003 session.

With 90 days in the session, that is a crazy amount of calls and web messages to process.

Not only did the Legislative Services Division do an astounding job gathering these messages and getting them out to the floor, they were gosh darn pleasant about it, and very helpful every time I gave them a call about matters related to the web site itself.

But Montanans deserve a huge KUDOS too, for participation in this past legislative session’s process. YOU called – YOU wrote – YOU emailed. In numbers larger than ever before.

So pat yourself on the back….and sign up for notification of future The Interim newsletters and any and all interim committee hearings. Keep informed. Our legislators are already at it with interim committee meetings. I’ve been slacking on that end – but that doesn’t make for an easy excuse for you.

We all have a responsibility to follow-through after pulling that lever in November. Sitting back and leaving those legislators to their own devises is not what democracy is about.

by jhwygirl

About a month ago, Rep. Joel Boniek (R-Livingston) brought Montana into nationwide attention when he attended a town hall-style meeting hosted by FoxNews on state’s rights. He was there – along with gun lobbyist and friend Gary Marbut, of the Montana Shooting Sports Association – to brag about HD228 which was signed into law by Governor Schweitzer after this last legislative session. The video is great insight into the mind of right-wing Republicans of Montana:

NOW Rep. Joel Boniek brings Montana into the national spotlight again with an interview with the LATimes where he compared Obama to some of the world’s best known fascists:

For his part, Boniek at one point equated Obama with Hitler, Mao and Stalin, saying each loved his country in his fashion but proved disastrous as a leader. “He’s ruining the country I love,” Boniek said of Obama, his soft tone belying the harsh comparison. “He doesn’t know what freedom is.”

Beyond wondering if Boniek even knows what a fascist is, given the last 8 years and his silence over those events, his willingness to use whatever he has to to get his right-wing agenda through is scary:

“It’s about states’ rights,” said state Rep. Joel Boniek, an independent-turned-Republican from nearby Livingston, who introduced the bill. “Guns are just the vehicle.”

I’m sure Rep. Boniek is civil and soft spoken and all, and as the LATimes notes, it belies the garbage that he spouts – but this is just the kind of garbage that breeds and feeds people like the Timothy McVeigh’s of the world.

Yep. I said it. Rep. Boniek is watering the sprouts of domestic terrorists.

With that kind of attention – the Wall Street Journal did a piece too – one has to wonder how many “sprouts” have been watered out there.

And what ever happened to patriotism? The patriotism these right-wingers spouted off about over and over when President George Bush Jr. was criticized for his war policies?

OH – gun lobbyist Gary Marbut got a piece of the LATimes action too –

“No federal employee in a black robe is going to roll back the power of the federal government,” said Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Assn., who wrote the bill. “But we want to make a statement, get the legal arguments on the record and get people active.”

Seems Marbut and Boniek are attached at the hip – first the legislative session, then FoxNews – and now and LATimes interview. How cozy.

I wonder if they mentioned the recent shooting in Helena.

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread….

Welcome Yellowstone County Democratic Party to the blogosphere…

I’m a birder, so here’s a Summer tanager alert:Male and Female Summer tanagers

Here’s an interesting NYTimes story on blogs and bloggers, titled Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest,

The latest news out of the dam removal at Milltown: Volunteer vegetation has sprouted in excavated cells in pre-reservoir soils. These seeds may have been lying dormant under the reservoir sediments for over a century. Another interesting factoid from Diana Hammer, who is the face for the EPA on the project: 2.5 million tons (about 1.9 million cubic yards) of contaminated sediments removed/loaded/disposed. Usually she tells us how much that is in railroad cars, which I find interesting…

The Montana legislature wasted very little time getting to interim session – they were getting at committee assignments and such with in a week of the drop of the gavel. Its newsletter – The Interim is out, with a rundown of the what is going to be discussed and who is going to be leading those discussion. Wanna keep in the loop? Be sure to read it and then sign up for email alerts.

On that note: DEQ is facing a budget crunch. Lovely, huh? Democrats like JP Pomnichowski and Mary Caferro tried heroically this last session to update regulations and get this Department sufficient resources to address things like unregulated dumps and the huge backlog of meth contaminated properties and the inefficiencies and complete failure of the DEQ to address open-cut mining issues and existing regulations. You-know-who voted against or amended to worthlessness the bills these legislators proposed to help correct these issues.

Well – there’s a start. What do YOU have?

by jhwygirl

Clearly, why waste time?

Governor Schweitzer signed SB498, the bad-bad-bad carbon sequestration bill I’ve blogged about several times… and before finishing out his day and before the sun went down he also inked a memorandum of understanding with Canadian Premier Brad Wall, committing $100 million each that will have Montana sequestering Canada’s CO2.

The $100 million they each committed? Montana’s is via as-of-yet unfunded U.S. taxpayer dollars, and Saskatchewan’s is via as-of-yet unfunded Canadian taxpayer dollars.

If you really want to understand how positively fruitless – not to say dangerously untested, considering the consequences and length of time-frames we are talking about – sequestration is, be sure to read Button Valley Press’ Captive Carbon? and CO2 Going To The Birds.

The amount Schweitzer and Wall are signing deals on? Laughable, if you consider that the only other carbon sequestration facility – built by U.S. taxpayer dollars, incidentally, cost the taxpayers $1.5 billion dollars in the 1980’s. That dollar figure translates to around $4 billion in today’s dollars.

Joe Romm, who ran alternative fuel programs during the Clinton Administration thinks a cost of $1 trillion is an insanely lowball figure to consider for sequestering our nation’s CO2 – and notes that the amount of CO2 that needs sequestered is equal to the amount of oil coming out of the ground. In other words – an astronomical amount. Check this 60 Minutes video of a report titled “Powered by Coal.”

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall isn’t immune to criticism, either – just this morning he was questioned by the Canadian legislature’s New Democrats about rising cost estimates of the sequestration deal.

He still went on – some might say perservered – and inked the deal…somewhere around 5:30.

One has to wonder why they can’t or why they won’t sequester their own CO2?

Why is it that Montana thinks the only way it can make money is to pimp its natural resources out at the expense risking Montana’s needed and necessary resources like clean air and water. Not to mention coal mining isn’t exactly the healthiest of occupations, either. Piping this stuff hundreds of miles?

The list goes on….

Hell – think about the infrastructure alone – a new railroad to move the coal; move the coal to to the plant; pipe it somewhere else to sequester it. That’s a hell of a lot of steel and diesel just to complete that task, no?

Being able to take a steambath in that stuff that come’s out of the stacks at a coal-burning plant still wouldn’t make coal clean considering the massive undertaking required to clean it.

But there’s wind..and Montana’s got plenty of it…but the problem as I see it is that wind doesn’t need all that heavy steel and diesel-supported infrastrucure – or not nearly so much of it. No railroad…no coal mining for 200 years. What it comes down to is a push to continue to back up an old industry and use what’s left of it – propping it up appropriately, of course, with taxpayer dollars – rather than make the transition to a cleaner industry that is “lightweight” compared to coal.

Update: The Billings Gazette put its report on the deal between Saskatchewan and Montana up sometime late last night.

by jhwygirl

A NYTimes article, Big Sky State makes play to be a CO2 importer reminds us of another environmental disaster-in-waiting SB498 sits awaiting signature from Governor Schweitzer.

Yeah! Let’s take Canada’s carbon dioxide! /snark

Ugh. Let’s hope the Governor goes “veto” on this one.

With recent EPA declarations regarding the regulation of CO2 – one has to wonder if its wise to attempting to regulate an untested process when the federal government has just declared its intention to regulate the same?

I must, once again, direct readers to two excellent posts on the subject of carbon sequestration: Button Valley Press’ Captive Carbon? and CO2 Going To The Birds. Both of those posts do a good job at explaining why injecting carbon dioxide into the ground is a stupid, stupid thing – but how nonsensical it is to build pipe and infrastructure all for additional processing of a pollutant in search of “clean coal”.

The feds have been halting all carbon dioxide emitting plants for months now – which is why the Highwood plant withdrew its plans for burning coal – clearly coal is receiving attention from the Obama administration, and consideration is being given as to what “clean coal” really means, and how do we get there?

Until that process is worked out – and clearly, the EPA declaration is going to take some time to work out – the state would do well to wait before acting. Investors are going to have to do the same…and the actions taken at Highwood confirm that wait-and-see approach.

SB498 has “scary” parts too – the sequestration (transport drilling piping and storage of carbon dioxide) would be be regulated by the Board of Oil & Gas – not DEQ which most would say are much better equipped both administratively and legislatively – to deal with regulating the transport of pollution.

An appointed board – that ovesees the industry that has to deal with this CO2. Conflict of interest, anyone?

Another “scary”? This is actually written into this bill:

(8) Solely for the purposes of administering carbon dioxide injection wells under this part, carbon dioxide within a geologic storage reservoir is not a pollutant, nuisance, or a hazardous or deleterious substance.”

Let’s hope for a veto on this one….I know I am.

by jhwygirl

The Helena IR, yesterday, called it the sesson’s “Trojan Horse” and Lord knows I’ve ranted about this one numerous times already. So has Politics, Peaks, and Valley, which took a scathing swipe at both HB575 and its author, Democrat Representative Bill McChesney, of Billings.

This bill saw opposition in committee and impassioned debate on the Senate floor.

Many saw it as the affront to senior water rights that it is. Senators from both sides of the aisle. In the end, it was a 30-20 vote which sent it to the Governor.

This bill would have created a special “give me” water permit to coal bed methane operators, effectively sanctioning destruction and salination of water wells. Even in closed basins.

This bill was bad – it ignored the property rights behind water rights, and it was a pure affront to Montanan’s right to a clean and healthful environment.

And how I love referring to it in past tense verbs….Because….

It appears that the Good Gov has vetoed this bill, based on that big hint from the Flathead Beacon, and a twiny twitter from Session ’09.

But that’s all I got for now…..we’ll have to wait to find out what all was vetoed today.

A veto of HB575 gives Schweitzer some major street cred on environmental issues (IMHO)….

Governor? Thanks!

by jhwygirl

Alternate title: How Dangerous is the Montana GOP? Answer: Very

I don’t know how much people have heard or read about Wednesday’s vote on HR3 (I ever-so-briefly mentioned it here), but as a result of the party-line 50-50 vote, Democrats are receiving nasty emails and death threats for their “no” vote.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Michael More, of Gallatin Gateway. HB3 was a reintroduced version of HJ26 which failed in committee and a blast motion on to the floor.

HB3 was presented at a “state’s rights” bill, but had overtones of secession and asserted that Montana was not subjected to the United States Constitution. James Conner, of Flathead Memo has a great piece up, history lesson and all, titled Will Montana fire on Fort Sumter? that should not be missed.

He also took the initiative to find out who the “horsetrading Democrat” was that let this thing ooze out of committee for the House floor vote: Great Falls’ Rep. Deb Kottel, which, sadly, is of little surprise.

Another great piece on the HB3 bill and subsequent vote is the UM School of Journalism’s The Session ’09 piece, titled Montana ‘state’s rights’ resolution fails on tied vote. That post includes some great background information and links to the out-of-state organizations supporting similar types of legislation elsewhere in the United States.

More is unapologetic about the “right-wing extremism” nature of the bills. From Molly Priddy’s piece:

“This is a debate that has been a long time coming,” More said. The resolution may be labeled as “right wing extremism,” but it really deals with states’ rights versus federal laws, he said, adding that secession is not the goal, but neither is it out of the question.

Priddy get’s even better from Laurel’s Rep. Krayton Kerns:

Rep. Krayton Kerns, R-Laurel, said though the resolution does not imply that Montana will secede from the union, there is always the possibility.

“(Secession) is the big stick in the room that we have to occasionally display,” Kerns said. “This resolution is a shot over the bow.”

Krayton Kerns sure does love waving the saber, doesn’t he?


This is your Montana GOP, folks. Make no mistake – not one Republican broke ranks on this bill (including Missoula’s HD-100 Rep. Bill Nooney). Even now, not even one senate Republican has spoken out against this dangerous nonsense.

Nor has Montana’s representation in Washington, Rep. Denny Rehberg.

The death threats? Two days of them, now, and still {crickets} from the Republicans.

Even conservative bloggers have been silent.

This is dangerous stuff, and had this bill made it into the Senate (and I guess we should be thankful to Kottel for her “no” vote on the floor, right?), there is no telling what might of happen.

This type of persistent – remember, this bill was attempted twice, in two versions – unabashed and unapologetic “right-wing extremism” should not be welcomed. It should be drawn out, exposed, talked about and openly condemned.

Not just by Democrats, but by Republicans too.

by jhwygirl

I don’t think Montana House and Senate Democrats should consider, in seeking compromise or cooperation, trading Healthy Montana Kids funding for stupid stuff like SB505 which would create special rules for coal bed methane water, and exempt it from normal permitting procedures, ignoring senior water rights.

SB94 is another one that shouldn’t be ‘traded’ to seeking that health care vote either – this bill revises closed basin water permitting.

Ugly HB575 has already passed both houses and now sits with the Good Gov who has the choice of signing the thing or committing it to VETO….the latter of which would be a far better vote in support of senior property and water rights.

Any vote in support of any of the above bills – whether it is the Governor signing them or the legislature voting on ’em – is a vote ignoring property rights.

This wouldn’t be horse-trading – it’d be blackmail. There’s a difference.

We know it’s going on, too – that HR3 even saw a 2nd floor reading in the House shows that kind of nonsense shenanigans are going on.

Some bills deserve purgatory hell. You don’t deal with the devil – you get devil babies.

Who needs devil babies?

Keep in mind the mantra behind the supporters of these bills – if you don’t support these, you don’t support development which really means that development (their emphasis, not mine) has greater rights than an individual here in Montana.

Think about that.

I see I’ve digressed….

There’s other nasties out there, too – don’t think this short list is it. As Button Valley notes, you never know when an ugly one is going to pop up.

What voters here in Montana expect our elected officials to do is to do the right thing. Stand strong on Healthy Montana Kids and senior property rights and senior water rights.

We voters will remember both the good and the bad…and that includes the foolish elected who vote against funding health care for Montana’s kids the way the voters intended it to be funded.

by jhwygirl

Will the legislature meet its constitutionally imposed 90 day deadline to get the budget done? Today’s Missoulian story on that subject is basically a rehashed story a’la 2007 – no fault of their own…I think we expect the legislators in Helena to kick things into a second session.

Now, rumors have been circulating the halls of the Capitol for just over two weeks now – that the legislature was going to break early to allow the fires that have started some time to cool down so that all that crazy talk can rest and some common sense can overtake like that of the cooperative nature we saw in the beginning days of the session.

But, alas, it’s kind of hard to quell crazy talk when the Governor is threatening to call a special session. It’s unnecessary, no? I mean, if they don’t get the budget done – and they know they have to do it – it’s not a secret or anything – then they come back for a special session..but saying “I don’t have a problem calling a special session,” just seems, well…showboating, no?

Then the Good Gov has to throw into that “threat” that he’ll “pick the hottest five days in June.The temperature inside will be about 90 degrees. That will speed things along.”

He added that he’d cut off the air conditioning as a energy-saving matter.

Wow…Now there’s incentive for these guys and gals, huh?!

5 days in June when the rest of Montana is out enjoying the sun and the mountains and the rivers? Just the environment for hashing out the most important piece of work that they have to get done.

Hell, I bet some of them are absolutely fine with the proposition.


HB2 is in committee hearing today at 10 a.m. This is where Healthy Montana Kids will be discussed, and it is expected that both House and Senate Democrats will hold the line and insist on full funding as approved by the voters.

I stand in support with House and Senate Democrats- threat of a second session or not. Let your legislative representation know, whether they be Republican or Democrat Call the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800.

While your at it, Missoulians might want to leave a special message solely for Bill Nooney. As I mentioned in this previous post, Nooney might want to reconsider his vote against fully-funding Healthy Montana Kids, given the numbers. He won his election with a squeak of a margin, while I-155 (the bill that created Healthy Montana Kids) won Montana with a 76.6% majority.

You were elected to represent your entire district Nooney, and not your gravel-pit industry lovin’ you-know-what.

by jhwygirl

Unbelievable the lives SB425 has – this thing was stalled in House FWP since the 8th of April – a blast out to the House floor attempt was made on Tuesday and failed – and a second blast was made today, which was successful.


Button Valley Bugle has really taken the lead on this ridiculous, foolhardy and ultimately costly to the taxpayers bill, and that link takes you to the most recent post, Devious Doin’s Walleye Welfare Is Back.

In its current state, this bill is nothing but a cover-up for an FWP boondoggle:

FWP agreed, when the hatchery was proposed in 1999, that it was not needed. They agreed to have it built only because proponents assured everyone that it could be run with funds from a warm water license stamp and would use no general license revenue. The hatchery was vastly overbuilt and now they want to repudiate that agreement and give the hatchery access to “revenue in the general license account or any federal funding available to the department.”

We’ve hit Walleye Welfare a couple of times here, too.

SB425 is on the House floor tomorrow, people. You can call the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for as many as five legislators per call. Phone lines open at 7:30 a.m. Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462.

Locally, I see Bill Nooney voted to bring this out for a vote. Nice to know that Nooney is ready to raise fishing licensing fees for his constituents in an effort to subsidize a warm water fish hatchery.

Here is a list of how everyone voted on the blast.

by jhwygirl

SB505 and HB575 are both bad water bills that tromp on the property rights of senior water right holders.

HB575 had its second reading on the Senate floor today, and unfortunately, after a prolonged and impassioned debate – and one defeated amendment – was approved with a 30 – 20 vote.

Read that vote carefully – because each “yes” vote on that list knew that their “yes” vote was a vote that cast aside senior water rights – knew that their “yes” vote was a vote that ignored property rights.

This is Montana folks! If property rights don’t mean anything up there in the Senate, then we got problems!

It creates a temporary permit for coal bed methane water (which pumps out groundwater at 12-gallons-per-minute and more than 17,000 gallons-per day). Even in closed or controlled basins. $500 bucks, no questions asked.

One inane argument in support of the bill that was heard repeatedly in the committee hearings was repeated on the floor: It’s already up out of the ground – whether you approve this or not, it’s still going to be out of the ground.

Man, these Einsteins are woefully misinformed. Or uninformed

See – the point of this legislation was to try and circumvent a recent Supreme Court ruling, adverse to the state, due to the state having ignored the water permitting process necessary to appropriate ground water.

The point is that it shouldn’t come out of the ground without a permit. To suggest that without this bill, that water is still going to come up out of the ground is false.

You gotta really really worry about a bill that is trying to give coal bed methane operators a free pass that already has in it a law that says “Compensation made to a landowner or a water right holder under this section may not exceed 75% of the cost of the damages. The maximum amount paid to a landowner or water right holder may not exceed $50,000 $150,000.”

Another inane argument in support of the bill goes something like this: The people who are against this don’t even live near these things – these people are a hundred miles away. They just don’t want to see any development (their emphasis, not mine).

Now – this argument ignores two facts – (one) that those people “a hundred miles away” that are complaining have no stake in the matter. First of all, “those people” know coal bed methane drilling is coming their way. Two – make a law impinging on senior water rights, and I suggest that if I live in Missoula or Kalispell or Libby I have a right to complain about it. Having a permit, frankly, gives you standing as a senior water rights holder – these coal bed methane guys? They got nothing.

The other idiocy behind that argument – the “they just don’t want to see any development” argument – is that what this means – if these idiots mean what they say, and my own personal assessment is that they do believe what they say – is that it is OK, in the pursuit of “development” to tromp on private property rights.

Let me repeat: Their justification for voting “yes” is that it is OK, in the name of “development” to ignore property rights.

Read that list carefully. And consider contacting those legishlators that voted “yes” and let them know that they are ignoring property rights.

Democrat Jim Keane, of Butte, is on that list.

Republican Roy Brown is on that list.

Democrat Kim Gillan is on that list.

Democrat Ken (Kim) Hansen is on that list.

Democrat Jesse Laslovich, of Butte, is on that list.

Republican Dave Lewis, of Helena, is on that list.

Republican Gary Perry is on that list – Gary’s had some good bills this session.

There is one final floor vote tomorrow. Don’t let a coal bed methane water welfare bill go without a fight.

You can also call the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for as many as five legislators per call. Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462.

by jhwygirl

HB2, the general appropriations bill, is back on the House floor for vote Thursday.

Will the evenly split House concur the amendments added in the Senate – including the cutting of CHIP by 15,000 kids?

House Democrats, headed up by Speaker Bob Bergren of Havre, have promised to reject the amendments, so tomorrow’s vote could take quite a while.

Apparently, according to Montana Republicans up there in Helena, we voters don’t know what we approved.

Missoula’s Representative Bill Nooney might want to reconsider his previous “No” vote on this matter back earlier in the session when he called the funding of children’s health care “socialized medicine”. Because while Missoula County voters approved I-155 overwhelmingly – with 76.6% majority, Nooney only won his election with 53% of the vote.

Why would Nooney ignore those numbers? Will he ignore those numbers…because the numbers, after all, are really voters.

My suggestion, people – give Rep. Bill Nooney a call or shoot him an email and let him know that Missoulian’s voted for CHIP – it’s his job to make sure it is funded like we voted it. Do it now. Tonight. First thing in the morning. During your lunch.

House floor hearing starts at 1 p.m., Thursday.

Nooney’s phone number and email are listed here on his state legislative webpage.

by jhwygirl

Bunches of good stuff I’ve been reading through for some time now – – –

The Center for the Rocky Mountain West has just released its Spring newsletter. There’s an interesting piece in there on population migration within the U.S.

When Wulfgar! writes that he was thinking of wearing “a flower print dress and my best tea-party bonnet,” you know you better be paying attention. I immediately began planning my trip to Bozeman. Good thing I read the rest of it, otherwise I’da been highly disappointed.

Then he goes after his favorite (Not!) local conservative blogger Andy Hammond with a piece titled “Asplode!

Pogie over at Intelligent Discontent took a jab at Rep. Dennis Rehberg and his hypocritical schizophrenic behavior concerning earmarks. It’s always good to get more clarification on Rehberg.

He also made two strikes with one blow on both the Chair of the Montana Republican Party and Rep. Dennis Rehberg in Is Liane Pronounced Lyin’ – A Pathetic Defense of Dennis Rehberg’s Record.


Both Button Valley Press and Will Fish For Work brought Walleye Welfare bill SB425 to my attention. Stop over and give ’em both a thanks for helping to save an important warm water fishery, along with a move that will ensure our fishing licenses won’t be increasing anytime in the near future.

Also celebrating the death of SB498…The Editor had put one one last scary post on the ills and unanswered questions behind carbon sequestration on Friday morning, and by late morning – early afternoon the bill was effectively killed in committee.

One ugly ugly bill that is sitting on the Governor’s desk, waiting for his signature is SB95 which concerns water quality standards for local municipalities. Politics, Peaks, and Valleys has a great piece over there, SB 95: Bucking Feds & Water Quality Standards. Anyone say “Mmmm, I love nutrient discharge in my water?” What’s shocking about this bill is how it is in direct conflict with federal EPA regulations. Look – legislative audits this past summer demonstrated how woefully inadequate Montana DEQ is acting as the agency responsible for the state’s water quality…why would we sign a law into effect that just continues to perpetrate that which is in violation of federal law?

Although, maybe Montana is better off with the feds taking over DEQ’s water quality division?

The Dead are apparently back out on tour The New York Times has two nice little nostalgic pieces – that one there and this one which is a collection of photographs, including reader submitted.

Matt Kohler has a piece up at Clean Green Sustainable about mountaintop coal removal. It’s a major issue out east – in king coal country West Virginia…which reminded me of something someone brought up the other day: “If all these coal advocates want to tout jobs-jobs-jobs when talking about coal, what about West Virginia? Isn’t that one of the poorest states in the U.S.? What about jobs and money down there?”

James Conner of Flathead Memo is not happy about the state of the CHIP initiative – and the state GOP’s role in the situation. When Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy facilitated that budgetary decision, well…let’s just say James got even more incensed.

No one is, really – and the hypocrisy surrounding that vote to reduce a citizen-backed program is mystifying. Singer points out the hypocrisy of it when transposed on the issue of redistricting, while in another post he points out how there simply isn’t any logic to the way they are coming to this decision.

Me? I see it pretty hypocritical of the Montana GOP to jump out on the Capitol steps and lambaste Democrats on the downfall of society for their pro-choice votes while failing to ensure that an additional 15,000 kids get healthcare and while voting in support of state-sanctioned killing in the death penalty? What kind of respect for life is that?

This one really ticked me off: Army Vet Billed $3,000 for War Wounds. My friend, who was Army, said that the Army should be sued for malpractice.

Bridger Orthopedic and Sports Medicine, of Bozeman, is climbing Mt. Everest and they’ve got a blog up with fabulous stories and photographs. I’ve been following it for weeks.

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