Archive for the ‘2011 Legislative session’ Category

by jhwygirl

Jim Brown, a Dillon attorney, chief legal council for the Montana Republican Party and executive board member, and legal representative for American Tradition Partnership is pretty proud of his defeat of Montana’s 100 year old ban on corporate funding of elections here in Montana – here he is boasting on Bozeman’s once-and-future state representative JP Pomnichowski’s facebook page:

Brown’s a hypocrite. Just like a lot of stuff we saw from the big government GOP this last session in the Montana state capitol, Brown is proud of his role undermining Montana’s constitution, yet back in May he whined about a commissioner of political practices ruling which allows parties to spend an unlimited amount of cash on staff and other similar services towards a candidates campaign.

Sounds to me like Brown takes all this election law stuff as some sort of game to be won (or lost), regardless of the consequences. Bad for him to lose at the commission of political practices when it involves unlimited money, but somehow great for everyone when it involves the U.S. Supreme Court allowing unlimited corporate money.

It’s good to see how clearly the Montana Republic Party positioned itself with regards to undermining Montana’s constitutional ban on corporate funding of elections. It’s chief legal counsel representing the party which sued the state on election law?

Republicans around these parts want to preach and lecture and champion the constitution, yet they’ve no respect for Montana’s. History means nothing, and our forefathers tonight are spinning in their graves.

While the Copper King zombies start plotting their return to state and national politics.

Government is FUBAR, people. FUBAR.

The Montana GOP? Disgraceful.

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by jhwygirl

Dave Gallik’s resignation as Commissioner of Political Practices was quick and fast – Great Falls Tribune reporter John S. Adams continues the scandal story this morning with news of events at the Capitol yesterday, which include Gallik repeatedly stating that the staff had called the police on him, despite that apparently not being true.

I have to say, to me, it almost comes off as him making light of the situation as he walked off to the Governor’s Mansion to discuss his resignation.

What is disturbing in Adams’ story is not the soap-opera scene (which the public seems to need as blame is apparently cast on vengeful women), but the apparent lack of any oversight on the Commissioner of Political Practices. Or the lack of anyone willing to step up. Adams goes through the three offices that the office staff apparently reported their allegations to:

Two staff members from the commissioner’s office told the Tribune they raised detailed concerns about Gallik’s behavior with Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s office and the Legislative Audit Division. They said they also reached out to Attorney General Steve Bullock’s office, but were told by an attorney who works on political practices complaints that the matter did not fall within the attorney general’s jurisdiction.

So they went to the three most logical choices and all three failed to address the situation? And right now the State Administration and Veterans Affairs Interim Committee is trying to determine who has the authority to oversee the office?

Don’t you think Montana should of had these things figured out? There’s so much to say about what is wrong with what Adams’ lays out in his article, I don’t know where to begin. Luckily, I’m tired as it’s been a long day and tomorrow’s another. I do love winter.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the soap opera scene of this situation. It’s also pretty childish to immediately start a defense by making accusations of political motivations against Adams. Given his history for accuracy, quite frankly, it be best for most of the parties involved that this die a quick death.

It’s a sad state of affairs when rather than address the issues of oversight of the chief political oversight office in this state, we’re more concerned with the motivations behind the whistleblowers who attempted to seek compliance with what is – afterall – state law.

When accusations are thrown against a reporter when none of the facts have been called into question.

And guess what? With some oversight of the office, Dave Gallik might have still been in office today. Had any one of the three offices that the office staff contacted with their allegations had then contacted Gallik and reminded him of state policies, he might have taken a different path.

One nagging question I have? Was Gallik told that he could do his private practice and rental property work from his state office? I’m guessing SAVA will eventually figure that out?

~~~~~~~

A number of people around the Montana blogosphere have also written this story up. Don Pogreba has a couple of posts now (I actually missed his first post), and here is Don’s piece on Gallik’s resignation.

James Conner – who, really, all of you should be reading – has two posts up, one on Improving Montana’s commission on political practices and another The Political Practices mess.

Jack the Blogger also kicks in with his analysis of the mess of the office, first having called on Gallik to resign, and today with his assessment of the ineffective mess that is the Office Of Political Practices.

ALSO, Gregg Smith over at Electric City Weblog had this analysis of the situation and how it correlates with past allegations by the GOP. He also has a quick take on the resignation that undoubtedly has some truth to it, even though he admits it to being entirely speculatory.

Finally, Montana Watchdog, a conservative newsource for state politics, has a few posts also. Here’s Phil Drake’s piece on Gallik’s resignation.

by jhwygirl

When I think of the amount of time this man and his ugliness were given in committee at the State Capitol in Helena this past session – the treatment he got as an expert on every matter he testified on – I shake my head at the majority of House members who deferred to this man in committee and in public.

Reverend Himes has a long history written here on these pages, all of it most assuredly documenting the ugliness he spreads. He is a hater. A bigot in the lowest of senses.

The video below gives you a taste of his full-on bigotry on near daily exhibit this past session. Missoula Representative Ellie Hill questions him on his testimony, and Himes proudly quotes Leviticus in advocating for the death of gays:

Now we come to find out that not only is he that, he’s a common criminal who supports he’s hate-spreading gospel by ripping of members of his church. Caught this story on the the-best-at-local-coverage KPAX News tonight. Then I headed on down to the Ravalli Republic which had this piece along with information on who issued the arrest warrants – Montana’s Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance.

From the sounds of it, Reverend Himes may be on the run. At least that’ll save the Montana GOP from all that uncomfortable silence the next time he walks into the room.

by jhwygirl

This post was the 8th post I ever wrote for 4&20blackbirds, way back in 2007.

I found a follow-up to this story this evening as I perused the Great Falls Tribune for some Supermontanareporter John S. Adams news reporting, hopefully on the Exxon spill of the Yellowstone River.

Instead I found this story (which will quickly go into paid archive), which found in favor of Susan Overfield’s lawsuit against the city for her very uncivilized expulsion from a Great Falls City Commission meeting in June of 2007.

A state district judge has issued a judgment in favor of Vaughn dog trainer Susan Overfield, who sued the city of Great Falls over her controversial expulsion from a City Commission meeting in June 2007.

In a Friday decision, District Judge Katherine Irigoin of Sidney ruled that the city violated Overfield’s right to free assembly, government participation and free speech.

Yeah – that darn 1st Amendment – that’ll get ya everytime. Just ask the Montana Legislature.

by jhwygirl

Dear Montana Legislators that voted for SB423:

You should be utterly embarassed by the court’s assessment of your ability to grasp the very documents you were sworn to uphold when you swore your oath of office. I’m talking about the U.S. Constitution and the Montana Constitution.

Frankly – this bodes quite well for progressive tree-hugging dirty hippies like me, given my own assessment of many of the bills that were passed.

…but I digress…..

District Judge James P. Reynolds hit ya’all on a whole list of things. I’ll just name a few:

1.) First Amendment, U.S. Constutition (right to free speech)

2.) Article II, section 7, Montana Constitution (right to free speech)

3.) Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution (the right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure)

4.) Article II, section 11, Montana Constitution (“the people shall be…secure from unreasonable searches and seizures)

5.) Article II, section 3, Montana Constitution (“the opportunity to pursue employment…is itself a fundamental right”)

6.) Article II, section 10, Montana Constitution (right to personal privacy)

Boy – that’s quite a laundry list of constitutional rights violated by a majority of both the Senate and the House

What you’ll hear from them – or some of them – will be that “we had to do something!” and “if I didn’t do that, they’d of repealed it!”

Hmph. It was one thing to participate in the shit scramble party to write something up – it was an entirely different thing to vote for it.

Shame on you all. Each and every one of you.

Voters will hopefully remember this, as those lists of legislators that vote for this bill that many many people had said was unconstitutional and violated basic rights didn’t have any concern for rights. All they were thinking of was political expediency and gain.

If they’ll violate these rights – and really, do we really have to school a Republican-controlled legislature on the basic rights of a person’s ability to make a living? To speak and advertise? To be protected from unreasonable search and seizure?

Obviously we do. I say we school them out of office.

(Thank you to the Missoulian for reporting the story and posting the judge’s injuction.)

by jhwygirl

‘Cause I’d find that real funny. Especially given that they titled the thing “An Act Establishing the Montana Marijuana Act” when it established nothing and instead destroyed the 2004 citizen’s initiative that brought medical marijuana to Montana.

Medical marijuana advocates have sued the state, challenging the new law as unconstitutional and without merit to state’s legitimate interests. The judge has said that he is having a problem with several provisions in the bill, and has suggested that may grant the full injunction rather than pick and strike problematic aspects.

This is just emblematic of the ineptitude that results when ideology takes over common sense and the real purpose of legislating, which is service to the public good.

We here at 4&20 have written about SB423 and medical marijuana (just use that nifty search there on the right), but Montanafesto really has taken the lead in the Montana blogosphere regarding medical marijuana – you can certainly read our in-the-moment calls on the lunacy as it happened, but I digress….

If our Attorney General and Governor were to have some service to the public in mind – keeping in mind that the public, in this case, includes people who are dying and could benefit immensely from medical marijuana – perhaps they would start directing the Department of Public Health and Human Services to get to work drafting some rules and policies for the law that was in place prior to this legislative masturbation ideological boondoggle.

Our legislature had THREE chances at writing laws to reign in what they really hated, which was the commercialization and industrialization of medical marijuana and its associated dispensaries. They ignored the pleadings of law enforcement and city and county governments, all the while the state government having the ability to introduce rules and policies directed at implement the intent of the original law.

Now’s the time to get at it. Medical marijuana advocates should be advocating for it, just like vote-seekers like Bullock and Bozeman’s Larry Jent.

I will not let this opportunity pass without mentioning that all this lawsuit stuff over an unconstitutional law is costing the taxpayers dearly – and if, indeed, this law is struck down as unconstitutional, the taxpayers will indeed pick up a huge tab in legal bills for the medical marijuana advocates.

And if this medical marijuana bill is having this kind of difficulty you can bet your next paycheck that there are a bevvy of other bills out there that became law that will meet the same future.

It’s starting look like the only jobs created out of the 2011 legislative session were those for attorneys, court reporters and paralegals.

(Addendum: Here’s an example of the repeal talk we’ve gotten from Attorney General Steve Bullock:

(Regarding the judge potentially incinerating the entirety of the 2011 legislature’s medical marijuana repeal law): If that occurs, “the commercial marijuana industry and all the problems associated with it would continue to exist in this state,” according to the legal document from Attorney General Steve Bullock, chief of consumer protection Jim Molloy and Assistant Attorneys General Mark Mattioli and Stuart Segrest.

This is simply not true. With all the supplier-end problems – capitalism gone wild, if you will – that have occurred in the last 3 years, no state agency (or even the Attorney General’s office) has stepped forward to write administrative rules to address the issue in a manner consistent and within the parameters of the original citizen’s initiative.

Repeal of this last legislative session’s bill leaves us with the citizen’s initiative law. There’s still plenty of ways to address the problems that have surfaced in recent years – none of which were the cause of cancer patients, and all of which were the result of the supply end of the situation.

Montana’s government failed its citizens. Time to fix that and do the right thing Steve Bullock.

by jhwygirl

Word is that Sen. Jeff Essmann is preparing to add his name to the pile – and I do mean pile – of Montana Republicans seeking to the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

His soon-to-be entry brings the number of candidates on the GOP side up to a 6-count: Rick Hill (who will quickly reduced to “Rick who?” after Essmann’s entry); former state senator Ken Miller (going for a second shot after losing to Bob Brown in a 2004 run for the GOP nomination); Cory Stapleton, another former state senator; Neil Livingstone, some sort of national security I-don’t-know-what; and Jim O’Hara, a Choteau County Commissioner.

Essmann’s fame of late is authoring the medical marijuana repeal bill that Governor Schweitzer allowed to lapse into law. He met recently with medical marijuana advocates, and apparently it didn’t go over too well.

Democrats have two declared candidates: Sen. Dave Wanzenried of Missoula and DINO Sen. Larry Jent of Bozeman. Jent was quite the advocate for repeal, and in fact much has been said behind closed doors of his and as-of-yet undeclared Attorney General Steve Bullock involvement in the state-wide raids that still remain without indictment (while leaving behind dozens of damaged commercial properties.)

I’ve got a number of reasons for why I don’t want Bullock to run, but one I’ll put out there is that the AG office is pretty important and Steve has worked towards seeking beneficial solutions for Montana consumers.

Incumbency has advantages and energy and funds should be funneled prudently.

In other words – wait until 2016.

For me, I’m going with Wanzenried. I’ve been a fan for some time. He’s fiscally prudent and practicle. Wanzenried knows how to work across the aisle, and he’s gained a tremendous amount of respect from all sides of everything up there in Helena.

Wanzenried is also one of the hardest-working senators this state has, and his experience on the legislative side could go a long way. One of the larger errors of Schweitzer’s administration is his lack of active productive participation in the legislative process, especially when it starts getting all haywire. This session could have used some guidance instead of showboating – which, while showy and great for the camera really did nothing more than throw more divisiveness into the already toxic mix.

You simply don’t see Wanzenried playing into that. He’ll discuss issues with analysis and a presentation of the issues. That’s the kind of leadership I want to see.

Most recently, Sen. Wanzenried has stepped up front-and-center rallying against HB198, this last session’s abomination “Eminent Domain Bill” which hands private property taking rights to private corporations. Wanzenried’s also successfully pushed through the senate a bill to abolish the death penalty the last two sessions, only to have it die in the House.

In 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 delegation to vote against HB198. (As for the house delegation, Rep. Ellie Hill was the sole Missoula rep. to maintain a “NO” vote for HB198.)

Want to get an idea of the name recognition and early polling on Montana’s 2012 election? Jack the Blogger over at Western World has some stats on the 2012 races in a post from back in February.

Footnote: When is the SOS going to update for the 2012 election? The list of candidates is still from the 2010.The SOS office can’t register candidates until January 1st, which answers my question.

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.

Sincerely,

/s/ Dawn Quixote

by jhwygirl

HB198, the eminent domain bill, is ugly folks.

Governor Schweitzer knows it, having promised the day a majority in the Senate was fooled (having been heavily lobbied by not only NWE and Tonbridge, but by the Governor’s office) into voting for the thing.

This is a bill that was pushed through the legislature with the help of the thugs of NWE. A bill that was tabled in Senate committee.

On the floor of the Senate just 8 days before the close of the session the beast was blasted onto the floor with lobbyists having worked the Senators the night before with drinks and dinner. Amendments to HB198 were offered that even proponents of agreed were worthy and needed to protect private property right, but they failed because there wasn’t enough time to get the thing back through the House.

Apparently though Governor Schweitzer has forgotten the legislative process…or he’s telling us something over and over in the hopes that we will start to believe it (like I said in an earlier post on this subject)…..but when Schweitzer bloviated about his successes to the press on Thursday, he included his “amendment” to HB198, the eminent domain bill:

The Democratic governor also talked up successes like the passage of a business equipment tax cut, workers’ compensation reform and revisions to Montana’s eminent domain laws, which he called the most important “job creator” of the session.

Schweitzer said his recent amendment to House Bill 198, which addresses eminent domain, will terminate the law in two years. The amendment ensures the 2013 Legislature must take another look at landowner issues, while allowing job-related development to flourish in the meantime; without passage of HB198, Schweitzer said badly needed energy development projects would have been jeopardized.

“That energy bill did not consider the rights of landowners, and they were worked up. So it was a balancing act for legislators to say, ‘We need to develop Montana and we need to develop our resources,’ ” Schweitzer said, commending lawmakers for meeting in the middle.

Now – that’s not just Schweitzer saying something in passing about his successes – this is the Governor going on for quite a bit about how he fixed the bill and what it does and what it doesn’t do…along with his own version of the bill’s benefits that many dispute.

Trouble is, Schweitzer started complaining that the bill needed amended – as I pointed out at the top of this post – and that he was going to amendatory veto the thing before the sun had gone down the day of the vote’s successful second reading vote in the Senate which gave the bill the necessary approval in both houses.

So the Republicans, in control, decided to hold back on the thing, not handing it up to him until last Friday, April 29th. A tactical move on their part.

Governor Schweitzer can not amendatory veto the bill – the session is closed.

His choices are two: He has until Sunday to veto the thing or sign it into law. He can also let it lapse into law, but the effect is the same as approving the thing. Letting lapse into law is a choice of the Governor’s, and is equal to signing it into law.

And when it does become law, it will not have a sunset clause.

Look – I know this stuff is boring for you folks but realize this – the effects of handing over eminent domain authority to any private transmission business that comes into this state under the major facilities siting act should be utterly offensive to you.

It is the rise of the ghosts of the Copper Kings. It will be a turning point in our history, just as the sale of Montana Power.

If you have questions, I encourage you to ask – we’ve had some very informed people on this issue, including Kate Orr and John Vincent, who sits on the Montana Public Service Commission (so how’s that for expert, huh?). That’s me kinda openly soliciting his help there, too.

It’s that important.

Please stand up for your fellow Montanan ranchers and property owners out in the eastern and central part of this state that are fighting this thing and contact the governor by email governor@mt.gov and tell him that working solutions to this issue require full analysis which fully weighs the concerns of Montana’s citizens.

In the meantime, Tonbridge can play fairly. Is that asking too much?

by jhwygirl

HB198 was transmitted to Governor Schweitzer last Friday, April 29th.

In his hands sits a bill that he knows is bad.

Schweitzer is, in fact, quite the hypocrite when it comes to this eminent domain bill. He lobbied heavily for this bill, from the opening of the session when he called this eminent domain bill one of the the legislature’s “most important acts” in his State of the State address back in January:

Third and this might be your most important task and if you get it right it will create thousands of jobs in Montana, if you get it wrong or you don’t finish it there will be pink slips that go to workers across Montana.

I guess Governor Schweitzer thinks if he keeps telling the press that the eminent domain bill is bad and crappy and the legislature needs to fix it, that the property owners in Northwest Energy and Tonebridge’s sights and the large number of people in opposition to this bill will feel better about the bill if (when?) he signs it or let’s it lapse into law.

In reality, what’s likely going to happen when Tonbridge go to court to force a takings on a private property owner, more property owners around the state are going to realize exactly and precisely the affects of HB198. Someone will be to blame. Since the bill had opposition and supporters on both sides of the aisle, it’s pretty easy to see where the finger-pointing is going to go.

And since he will represent to many “The Democrats,” it’s going to be “The Democrats” that are going to get targeted as anti-private property rights for…well – forever. Kinda like everyone blames Racicot and the Republicans with selling off Montana Power.

It’s a legacy that Democrats who voted on the wrong side of this bill may want to consider.

Who got played?

There was a straightforward way to do this if that is truly what they wanted to do – but the legislature and the Governor back-doored this bill in the Major Facilities Siting Act, which is amended every darn session it seems to get around any number of regulations.

So Montana becomes a colony for Canada when we hand over eminent domain power to Tonbridge, a Canadian company. And don’t forget China, either, as Otter Creek will also bring with it a railroad to transport the stuff for Wyoming and for China.

Which is another thing Governor said wouldn’t happen in his 2011 State of the State:

We will develop Montana’s energy on Montana’s terms, not as a colony for our energy hungry country.

What I want to know is while Governor Schweitzer is very vocal (lately) about how crappy this bill is…and while he lobbied very heavily for this bill – having his staff on the floor for both debates….why didn’t he speak up sooner?

Why didn’t he propose a bill?

He could have offered testimony during committee. His office did it for other bills.

This eminent domain bill HB198 will have the impact that the sale of Montana Power had on this state.

Veto it, good Governor.

by jhwygirl

Started to write this post, but it appears there is a motion to reconsider on the House floor and now they’ve gone to recess.

Time will tell whether they (and the citizens of Montana) got played…but it more than a few of them are wanting to correct the current deplorable situation.

Update
Well, looks like many in the House, but not enough, tried to correct their vote. A 62 to 34 majority voted to reconsider HB198, the ugly eminent domain bill that we’ve written about here a number of times (hit the search for HB198 or “eminent”).

So we’re back to a bill that is going to be transmitted to the Governor who said he wanted a sunset clause.

A sunset clause on a bill that Governor Brian Schweitzer said he knows is bad. A bill that hands the takings of private property into the control of very profit-driven private businesses that have no obligation to public gain.

I’d call the situation bizarre if it didn’t involve private property owned by citizens of this great State of Montana. And for that reason, it’s tragic. People will look back on this law – if it does become law – as a turning point for this state much like the deregulation of Montana Power.

Governor Schweitzer has two options, really: Veto or approve. With no chance of an amendatory veto, any failure on his part to take one of those two formal actions – and let’s be clear here: Not signing it and allowing it to lapse into law is equal to approving it – is weak. Especially after the fiasco he created out of the 2007 legislative bill he allowed to lapse.

by jhwygirl

HB198 was passed on third reading this morning in the Senate. I won’t rehash the ugly mess of this bill that will enable private major facility businesses to take private property for private gain – you can just put HB198 into the search there on the right for that background.

That being said, the bill is heading to the Governor’s desk after a debate yesterday that had proponents of the bill push off amendments they felt were worthy because they had to ‘get this thing done for MATL.’

So we have a bill that’s bad, even by proponent’s standards.

What is probably not so shocking since he’s been demanding this bill, is that Governor Schweitzer is willing to sign off on this bill that he, too, admits does not protect private property rights.

Schweitzer is going to offer an amendatory veto to this bad bill that will have it sunset it in 2013. That means that Montanans will have a bill that has a special retroactive clause to capture up and (hopefully for them) cure MATL’s legal issues and its failure to negotiate in good faith with Montana property owners being signed by the Governor – even though he admits it’s a shitty bill. From the good Gov:

“The Legislature has got to spend the next two years putting together an eminent domain law that makes sense for developers and for landowners of Montana,” Schweitzer said at a Capitol news conference. “This bill is not right; it didn’t address landowner concerns.”

I’m not a landowner, but if I were in the path of anything that has a major facility line or pipeline anywhere near it, I’d be darn pissed off right now.

Voters can not point the blame of this horrible legislation at any one party – both sides of the aisle voted on both sides of the issue, and ardently defended their positions. Being the one signing it into law, though, is a different matter.

(Addendum)
Read the Billings Gazette edition of this story and the comments are interesting. Not many in support of the thing, and the only people being blamed are Democrats.

And that will be how it goes. A whole bunch of people that will never check the actual vote on that bill (that saw the likes of Verdell Jackson voting for the thing) will blame it on “Democrats” when in truth there were a whole lot of “Republicans” who voted for it, too.

by jhwygirl

Even the old timers I know can’t recall a more lunatic legislature. One of the most conservative on that list recently told me that they thought the Governor was right with his budget and they (the legislature) were “a bunch of idiots.”

I was floored.

Anyways….the Republican controlled 62nd Legislature took its unprecedented 2nd break of the session today, coming back on Tuesday.

These breaks aren’t saving any money – in fact, they’re costing the taxpayers and inconveniencing the legislative staff who still have to stick around.

The first break (April 14th) cost the taxpayers somewhere around $60,000. This current break will cost over $75,000.

Republicans are taking the break because they are waiting on the Governor’s veto of HB2, the main budget bill.

There are other components to the budget bill, though – and combined together they represent the “bottom dollar” and Governor Schweitzer is saying it’s impossible to be responsible with the budget without seeing the entire picture.

And I’ve yet to hear from anyone in the MTGOP as to why that doesn’t make sense.

Which, of course, they can’t say because The Governor Needs To See The Whole Budget!

Look – what I wonder is why someone in the media isn’t getting Senate President Jim Peterson or Speaker of the House Mike Milburn on camera and asking them how they expect the Governor to responsibly review a budget when he doesn’t have the entire thing.

This cat-and-mouse game being played up there in Helena is getting frustratingly boorish. By taking these breaks, the Republicans want to be able to pin the costs of the upcoming special session on the Democrats or on Governor Brian Schweitzer when the Democrats and Governor Brian Schweitzer have told them to put the federal funding back in the budget. They’ve tried to adequately fund the schools (and considering the state’s been sued for lack of adequate funding, their concerns are well-placed) and the Republicans have ignored those requests also.

Here’s a hint: The public aint’ buying it.

My view looking in says that people are getting sick of some of the obvious fights Republicans are picking this session – let’s not forget the attacks on gays and local governance – and if they think they are going to hand the Governor an incomplete budget and then expect to be able to blame him when they go into special session they are either up there smoking crack or…..

Or they are home in their districts smoking crack.

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…..in 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.

by jhwygirl

This is a press release from the Northern Plains Resource Council and the Northern Plains Pipeline Landowners Group regarding today’s Senate 2nd reading vote on HB198, the 62nd Legislature’s eminent domain bill.

Northern Plains Resource Council, a grassroots conservation and family agriculture group since 1972, strongly condemned actions by the Montana State Senate on Tuesday to pass HB 198, the session’s eminent domain reform bill, on a second reading floor vote. A majority of Democrats joined with Republicans to vote in favor of the bill. The bill had previously been stalled in committee on a 6-6 vote until it was blasted onto the Senate floor this morning on a 26-23 vote.

Northern Plains members, many of whom are landowners facing condemnation themselves, have fought HB 198 for most of the session. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ken Peterson (R-Billings), would clarify a public utility’s right to condemn private land for corporate use. Buried in the bill is a retroactivity clause that will set a dangerous precedent for landowners in Montana. Northern Plains calls this bill what it is – a corporate bailout.

“The members of the Montana Senate who voted in favor of this bill had a chance to stand up for landowners and the interests of rural Montana today; instead, they caved to the bottom line of one corporation, granting them the biggest corporate bailout of the session,” said Darrell Garoutte, Chair of the Northern Plains Pipeline Landowners Group. This group of landowners crossed by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in eastern Montana has organized to negotiate with TransCanada an equitable contract which protects landowners and public safety.

“This bill is about one corporation, Tonbridge Power Inc., that treated landowners dishonestly, lost in district court, and, rather than going through the appellate court system like any other citizen of this state, came to the legislature with its hands wide open threatening legislators with alarmist claims and rhetoric. It certainly sets a dangerous precedent for landowners moving forward, and folks in rural Montana will remember this vote.”

HB 198 arose out of a district court decision issued in December in Glacier County where Tonbridge Power of Toronto is building the 214-mile Montana Alberta Tie Line. The judge halted construction of the power line, ruling that the project did not meet the public need test and therefore did not have the power of eminent domain. HB 198 effectively reverses the decision and puts the landowners in the project’s path in the crosshairs. Parties in the case filed arguments with the Montana Supreme Court last week, promising that a decision will be reached soon by the state’s highest court.

“We in the agricultural sector take this as a personal affront to our ability to do business in Montana, and the economic hardship of stealing our land. If you take something from me and give it to somebody else, it is stealing. This will put us in a position where we cannot deal fairly with anyone trying to use eminent domain. We are simply asking for respect and fairness. This bill sets a grave precedent for those of us that make a living on the land in this state,” said Garoutte.

by jhwygirl

The Senate Energy & Telecommunications tied 6-6 today in committee on HB198, and then subsequently voted to table the bill, effectively killing it.

Senate Legislative Rules allow for the committee to reconsider its votes providing the committee has not yet reported to the Secretary of the Senate.

Which is the likely explanation for why Sen. Olson, chair of Senate Energy & Telecommunications, called a special meeting of his committee for tomorrow at 3 p.m.

Reporter Mike Dennison the story on what happened today.

Despite continued reading of information concerning HB198, I still think it is a dangerous door to open. Eminent domain statutes are situation under Title 70, Chapter 30. Public uses are defined there under Part 102.

Only that isn’t where HB198 changes the law. It adds a more expansive definition of what a public utility is under Title 69 – a definition that was exclusive to that Title….and applies it to the not-that-narrow constraints of eminent domain in Title 70.

The key word there in Title 70 resting on public uses that are used by the public in Montana. Title 70 allows for condemnation of a long laundry list of things – including distribution lines for electricity. To suggest that some major crisis happens should pass-through lines owned by private companies be unable to condemn is hysterics.

What is different here with MATL is that those lines are passing on through Montana. They will not be regulated for Montana. There is simply no assurance that that these lines can be used by smaller users.

Nor is there any guarantee of fairness to those seeking accessibility to these lines.

Until such time that the state can guarantee a true fair and equitable public use of those transmission lines.

The current bill, as it stands, is lazy and inadequate to protect the citizens of Montana against unchecked private interests. If approved it will surely stand as yet another famous Montana give away to private interests.

By relying on the Major Facilities Siting Act, it allows major decisions to be made about private property large and small without any input whatsoever from the private property owners. Keep in mind, at least one county has sued for being left out of the loop – so involvement and scoping under the Major Facilities Siting Act is clearly flawed (to say the least).

So, like I wrote yesterday, please take the time to contact members of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee and let them know that HB198 has significant flaws and does NOT provide for public uses and as such should not allow for condemnation of private property for purely private purposes.

Information on contacting your legislators can be found here.

You can also contact the entire Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee by calling 406-444-4800 and leaving a message.

The legislative desk begins taking calls at 7:30 a.m.

Here are the members of Senate Energy and Telecommunications. The ones with a * voted NO today…and are being pressured to change their vote:
Chair: Alan Olson (R-Roundup)
Vice Chair: Verdell Jackson (R-Kalispell)
Vice Chair: Ron Erickson (D-Missoula)
*Shannon Augare (D-Browning)
*Jeff Essmann (R-Billings)
Bob Lake (R-Hamilton)
*Lynda Moss (D-Billings)
*Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge)
*Mitch Tropila (D-Great Falls)
*Kendall Van Dyk (D-Billings)
Chas Vincent (R-Libby)
Edward Walker (R-Billings)

by jhwygirl

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Click on it and you’ll get a nice full-size version of it.

It’s astounding, really, the politicians of both sides of the aisle lining up to hand over private property rights to corporations and private interests large and small.

And foreign, at that! Tonbridge, a Canadian company is the big push on this bill, with Northwestern Energy also a big player in lobbying efforts on HB198.

As the Montana Farmers Union said

“It has been said that politics can make for strange bed-fellows. Watchers of the 62nd Montana Legislature certainly can attest to that.”

All eyes are on Senate Energy & Telecommunications today as they take executive action on HB198.

Have you called 406-444-4800 to leave a message for the Senate Energy & Telecommunications Committee telling them NO to handing private property rights to private entities?

Protect private property rights.

by jhwygirl

Once again, Montana is at a crossroads of importance with regards to the amount of power our legislators will hand to a private company for private gain.

Oddly, you’d think that the concept of handing over condemnation rights for the private property of Montana citizens to a private corporations wouldn’t fly in a GOP-controlled legislature, but here we are with HB198, a bill requested by Democrat Governor Schweitzer. This ugly bill passed the House on a 69 – 30 vote on third reading (having gained a few from second reading where the vote was 56 – 44.

That’s quite a gain from second to third reading, over a period of 3 days. Clearly pressure is on.

Opposition to this bill, like support, is bi-partisan. Drum-beating House conservatives like Steve Fitzpatrick (R-Great Falls), Janna Taylor (R-Dayton), Wendy Warburton (R-Havre) and Wayne Stahl (R-Saco) voted in support of handing over condemnation rights to private corporations…..as did Democrats Robyn Driscoll (D-Billings), Carolyn Squires (D-Missoula), Betsy Hands (D-Missoula) and Mike Phillips (D-Bozeman).

So we have Republicans wanting to expand condemnation and eminent domain rights, and we have Dems handing the keys to private corporations. Both are doing so with Governor Schweitzer cheering from the sidelines.

Every hearing, along with the floor debate, has been pretty heated – rightfully so, I might add. Montana is taking its newest resource – wind – and leaving it largely unregulated (unlike coal oil gas gold silver timber and hell, even gravel and CO2 storage rights) in terms of ownership, development rights and taxation, and handing over condemnation rights for transport of this resource to private corporations.

Colonialism? Stupidity? Laziness?

It’s a disgrace of the 2011 legislature and any advocate for this bill that the solution here wasn’t to look for protections for the private property owner here in the state, but that the solution was to rewrite laws concerning eminent domain in the easiest laziest and most invasive way as possible, handing over the courts to private corporations.

A disgrace.

What’s even more disappointing is that two Missoula legislators are co-sponsors of HB198: Senators Ron Erickson and Tom Facey.

Senator Ron Erickson support is apparently unwavering. He recently told Concerned Citizens for Montana and the Northern Plains Resource Council that he intends to vote “Yes” on the bill on the “environmental promise of corporate wind.”

Really Senator Erickson? Disappointing doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt when I read that.

Maybe Erickson missed this editorial from PSC commissioner John Vincent.

Make no mistake – wheeling and dealing and some pretty serious horse trading is going on with regards to this bill. The Governor wants this bill, along with Northwestern Energy, one of Montana’s largest lobbying interests here in Montana. The money they dump into both state-level and federal-level elections is astounding. In fact, I recall a delicious steak-and-eggs breakfast in Denver 2008 that was paid for by Northwestern Energy. Don’t think that the Republicans didn’t get the same treatment at their own convention that year.

Rumor has it that this bill is such the objet d’affection of Schweitzer that he has agreed to trade his support of HB439 (a nice porky bonding bill that was fattened with an additional $7.9 million to MSU – which might explain the support coming out of the Bozeman Democrats) in order to get the votes for HB198.

The Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee is meeting tomorrow at 11 am to do executive action on HB198. The goal is to get this to the floor as quickly and with as little fanfare as possible. Chair Alan Olson (R-Roundup) believes he has has the votes necessary in his committee to move this forward. That means he believes he has the majority of these votes:
Vice Chair: Verdell Jackson (R-Kalispell)
Vice Chair: Ron Erickson (D-Missoula)
Shannon Augare (D-Browning)
Jeff Essmann (R-Billings)
Bob Lake (R-Hamilton)
Lynda Moss (D-Billings)
Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge)
Mitch Tropila (D-Great Falls)
Kendall Van Dyk (D-Billings)
Chas Vincent (R-Libby)
Edward Walker (R-Billings)

Well, boy – you’d think that looking at this, Verdell Jackson, Bob Lake and Chas Vincent would be difficult to get…and we already know that Ron Erickson has decided where he is going on this bill. Jason Priest? Isn’t he supposed to be some conservative?

And what about Democrats Linda Moss and Kendall Van Dyk?

This bill is such a mess and the politics behind it are ugly. If approved, Montanans will be talking about this bill much like we still talk about the dismantling of Montana Power into the hands of corporate ownership.

Democrats are betting on Montanans remembering this being done under the GOP controlled House and Senate, while the corporate-loving GOP is betting on being able to blame it all on Schweitzer, who will, it appears, gladly sign this bothersome behemoth into law.

In the end, it’s Montana private property owners that are on the losing end.

~~~~~
Information on contacting your legislators can be found here.

You can also contact the entire Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee by calling 406-444-4800 and leaving a message.

The legislative desk begins taking calls at 7:30 a.m.

by jhwygirl

Eminent domain has been something that our Governor Brian Schweitzer wants addressed.

What he and a whole bunch of others in both the legislature and in Canada and elsewhere want is for the Montana-Alberta Tie Limited (MATL) to be able to build its line where they want to build it. Meaning that Canadian company Tonbridge Power, Inc. needs to be able to condemn private property for the many that are standing in the way.

Wasn’t there an outcry back in 2005 over Kelo v. New London? In that case it was one homeowner.

Aren’t there whole skyscrapers built around little houses in NYC?

It seems to me this is capitalism and the free market at its finest. There’s a ranch owner up near Choteau that doesn’t want the lines going through a particular area on his property. Tonbridge is a private company. They don’t have the power of eminent domain. Eminent domain is for public uses. Tonbridge just wants to move its power from Alberta to Colorado and California.

Shouldn’t the private company then deal in the true free market?

Offer him more money. At some point, it’s either going to be cost effective or not. Then you move the line.

And I understand what that means – but that’s the free market. Embrace it, baby!

The Montana GOP is floating a new proposal. Remember, there’s a whole bunch of people that want this thing, not just Schweitzer, not just Tonbridge, not just Northwestern Energy, (who also wants to be able to condemn for its Mountain States Transmission Intertie (MSTI), and not just some Democrats.

The original bill, HB198 , was truly bipartisan creation..

Sen. Essmann, from Billings, has an amendment that would not allow condemnation of “collector” lines from smaller energy sources (say, a wind farm here in Montana?)…but would still bring the straight line of authority and loss/benefit between the private property (Tonbridge or Northwestern Energy).

The idea that the the state would not want to step in on this issue like is astounding.

Further, this opens a key to corporate interests picking the shortest most profitable line. Plan first, takings later. Guaranteed.

Essmann’s proposal, frankly, ensures that we’ll have tons of lines crossing the landscape and no planned consolidation which would make investment significantly easier and reducing impact on Montana’s greatest resource (and I shouldn’t have to say what that is).

The solution needs to eliminate that direct authority of private interests over private property and the individual Montanan.

There also has to be some true public benefit. not a handful of jobs.

One of these days – and especially after this session – someone’s going to count all the jobs, who they went to (brought in from out-of-state?) and what they did (my bet is that we end up with a whole bunch of attorneys, judges and copy stores).

Alas – those darned Montanans and their crazy property rights ethic. They take offense to handing over eminent domain powers to private corporations. I don’t know that it matters much that they’re from Canada..or that the people, benefiting from the power line are in California and Colorado.

And Canada too, I guess.

What Montanans don’t want to see is an open door for a private entity to come in and decide that they want to profit off of what many have called the west’s breadbasket of wind and have the feds authorizing lines with no regard to whether the private property owner or the locally and state-level elected authorities approve of the thing.

This reversion to and embracing of Montana colonialism astounds me. We’re prostituting ourselves with the state’s resources that are not unlimited.

Coal? Otter Creek, we gave that away. Oil & gas? Nowthey’ll be drilling first and then doing an environmental review.

Even these powerlines. While advocates for allowing a private corporation to condemn private property for their own private interests gain cry “this is for green energy” their calls are fake. Aside from the particular facts of MATL, the issue isn’t what it carries – it’s the power it gives to private entities.

Tonbridge and Northwestern Energy are ramping up pressure. Northwestern recent filed an amicus brief in the current case in Tonbridge’s appeal of a lower court which ruled that eminent domain authority only rests with the state. Teton County’s Choteau Acantha has the fullest reporting I’ve seen on this.

Concerned Citizens Montana is a website formed by those not supporting eminent domain ability for private companies, and it has an aggregate of information from many places.

Will the legislature hand over private property takings rights to private entities?

Let’s hope some true conservative libertarian sense reigns.

by jhwygirl

I’ve been able to listen to some of the Free Conference HB2 budget hearing today and I have to say I’m thoroughly disgusted.

A short summary might be something like this: Dems Sen. Carol Williams and Rep. John Sesso make motion after motion to replace federal funding into the budget and every amendment was rejected. With little to no discussion.

This is money that Schweitzer has said will be one of the reasons for his promised veto of the budget: It is federal funding that will go to another state if we don’t take it.

The amount is upwards of $100 million, much of it for social services.

Today the committee sparred, with Lewis jovially leading the charge of not budging on any amendments that I heard offered by Williams or Sesso. There really was – again, I’ve only heard part of it – little to no discussion. Clearly, as this quick report on today’s hearing points out, the Republicans have no intent to negotiate this thing at all.

They want that veto. Keep in mind I use the word “jovially” to describe how today’s hearing played out.

Plainer wording is that the Republicans were downright disrespectful of the legislative process and their fellow legislators. It wasn’t hidden. It was unprofessional and unfitting of someone for whom I’ve expressed respect for in the past. Yet alone the rest of them.

Senator Carol Williams – goddess that she is – has more grace in her baby toenail than all the Republicans I heard joking and jabbing today in committee.

Here’s an idea: Maybe the 18 Republicans that are fond of federal subsidies for their agricultural business should signal to Sen. Dave Lewis (who is heading up the joint committee) that they are more than willing to allow the addition of the federal monies to the state budget.

Either that, or I suggest the hypocrites give their federal subsidy money back, just as they are forcing the disabled and poor of Montana to do.

Hell – Rep. Janna Taylor, a Republican out of Dayton could start the “give back” off with her $1,017,491.

Quite the welfare check, I’d say.

Then there’s a whole other bunch of tea party anti-federal money. Here’s some of the bigger hypocrites:

Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, $643,063
Sen. Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo, $637,547
Rep. Lee Randall, R-Broadus, $507,674
Sen. John Brenden, R-Scobey, $497,291
Sen. Taylor Brown, R-Huntley, $473,563
Rep. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, $380,160
Sen. Donald Steinbeisser, R-Sidney, $241,761
Rep. Daniel Salomon, R-Ronan, $223,865
Sen. Ron Arthun, R-Wilsall, $213,800
Sen. Terry Murphy, R-Cardwell, $188,427
Rep. Mike Milburn, R-Cascade, $141,770
Sen. Debby Barrett, R-Dillon, $123,378
Rep. Christy Clark, R-Choteau, $122,287
Sen. Rick Ripley, R-Wolf Creek, $89,847

by jhwygirl

John Cochran, of St. Regis had some pretty harsh words for Sen. Jim Shockley.

Both Cochran and Shockley served as Marines…and both are acquainted with each other through the American Legion.

Cochran went and did something that he’s never done before – and it was to honor another fellow Marine, Bob Baxter, the man who died while waiting for a court to clear the way for the death with dignity he so very much desired.

Cochran drove from St. Regis to Helena to testify before the Senate Judiciary committee on SB116, the bill from Rep. Greg Hinkle that would have prohibited physician-assisted suicide.

This bill was tabled in committee, and later died with a blast on the Senate floor.

Sen. Shockley is an attorney. Aren’t attorneys supposed to tell the truth? I guess that doesn’t apply when wearing a legislative hat. Must be written as some sort of exception to the Montana State Bar ethics code there. Same with the Marine “semper fidelis”/legislature thing.

Legislature trumps everything. That’s easier than Rock Paper Scissors.

Read John Cochran’s words for Sen. Shockley here.

by Pete Talbot

It was one of the broadest coalitions I’ve seen in years.

But it was hard to get crowd estimates in the rolling front yard of the Capitol — over a thousand for sure.  Folks kept pouring in from around Montana, connecting with friends and sharing the wrath.

The rally literally took off at the end: a march around the Capitol grounds with all the signs and fired-up people, just as the sun was breaking through the clouds, and to the PA playing “We’re Not Going to Take It” by Twisted Sister.

This followed the speeches which were many, but short and to the point: a Billings firefighter, a Bozeman pastor, a Missoula small business owner, a veteran, a Blackfeet Indian, to name a few.

The themes were “Courage, Not Cuts,” “These Cuts Hurt,”  “We Have the Money, Reverse the Cuts,” and “Work That Matters.”

It was an eclectic mix: ironworkers and teachers, environmentalists and health care activists, Crow and Blackfeet, emergency service workers and the disabled … and kids.

(More photos and copy below the fold.)

Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Pete did the first post on tomorrow’s No Fooling With Our Future rally in Helena at the state capital.

Here’s the information release, which contains bus information for around the state:

JOIN US FOR THE NO FOOLING WITH OUR FUTURE RALLY!

The legislature has cut funding to vital state services including education, health and human services, and public safety.
THESE CUTS WILL MEAN LOST JOBS, AND THE MOST VULNERABLE MONTANANS WILL SUFFER
We must demand legislators
REVERSE THE CUTS!

What: NO FOOLING WITH OUR FUTURE RALLY!

When: FRIDAY APRIL 1, 2011, NOON (12 p.m)

Where: CAPITOL STEPS – HELENA MONTANA

Who: union members, community leaders, neighbors, teachers, firefighters, faith leaders, nurses, snowplow drivers, health workers, business owners, conservationists, women, professors, childcare providers, cowboys, veterans – EVERYONE WILL BE THERE TO FIGHT TO PROTECT VITAL STATE SERVICES!

TRANSPORTATION AVAILABLE FROM AROUND THE STATE

No Fooling with Our Future Rally
Friday, April 1st

Rally Day Schedule— No Fooling with our Future!
10 MEA-MFT office open- North side of the Capitol
11 Sign making and sign in on Capitol lawn, businesses provide coffee & rolls
11 Rally speakers meeting
11:10 Rally music starts
12:15 Rally speakers start
1-1:30 Rally goers circle the capitol carrying signs, chanting, led by drummers
2 Buses from out of town depart from Capitol area- East side of the Capitol

Music schedule
11:10 Music
11:40 Amanda & Kevin Curtis
11:50 Bob Brock
12:00 Drumming circle (from Helena Indian Alliance) Jeremy Red Eagle
12:10 Larry & Marco drum to announce start of speakers
Speakers
12:15 Speakers start

Rally adjourns by 1:45 pm. Folks will load back on the bus with a sack lunch provided by 2 pm.

Bus schedule and departure times
All buses will be leaving Helena at 2pm to return. Sack lunches will be provided on the bus upon departure- Courtesy of Organized Labor.

Billings
Leaving from the Home Depot Parking lot at 7:30 am
Bozeman
Leaving from the Target Parking Lot at 9:30 am
Butte
Leaving for the Butte Plaza Mall parking lot at 10:00 am
Great Falls
Leaving from the Labor Temple on 11th Ave at 10:00 am
Havre
Leaving at 8:00 am form the Old Gary & Leo’s IGA Parking Lot on First Street
Kalispell
Leaving at 7:30 am from the Rosaeur’s Parking lot –will pick up overflow crowd in Missoula.
Missoula
Leaving from the Target Parking Lot at 9:00 am and the overflow list from the Park and Ride at Eastgate 9:15 am

Please RSVP for a bus seat now–call Molly at 406-529-8497 or sign-up on online here: http://www.mea-mft.org.

by jhwygirl

That headline is not true – Republicans, of course, rejected a Democrat amendment that would have struck “gold” from Rep. Bob Wagner’s gold standard bill, HB513, and replaced it with a “Coal Standard”.

Hell, even I can laugh about that – and think of how much I rage against Otter Creek.

Great Falls Tribune Supermontanareporter John S. Adams has the story – and video – at his blog, The Lowdown. You really must read it.

I admit I didn’t take the time to get through the whole thing last night – but it is really worth the time to read it all and watch that video.

Hollywood should be paying attention at this point. Frankly, maybe some reality tv producer can come in to Helena and if enough legislators sign on, maybe Montana could afford those fresh local farm veggies for the school kids.

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.

Nice

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 Pete Talbot

Montana’s governor isn’t Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker.  And there aren’t quite the same union-busting laws being advanced by either the executive or legislative branch here in Montana.  But there’s potential for a Wisconsin-like rally on Friday, April Fool’s Day, in Helena.

This is very apropos, considering the many foolish bills, radical cuts and a special session offered up by the Republican majority during this legislature.

The rally is scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. at the Capitol.  Here’s some background from the Havre Daily News.

One of the organizers of the event, Molly Moody, said the rally represents union members, community leaders, neighbors, teachers, firefighters, nurses, snowplow drivers, health workers, business owners, conservationists, cowboys, police officers …

No one is sure what the turnout will be yet.  Buses are being chartered in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Havre, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula, so I’m betting it’s larger the March 3 Tea Party rally. I know I’m going.

Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Because we elect people like Rep. Alan Hale, of Basin Montana. Legislators that have no problem standing up for the right to drink and drive.

If case you missed the action on the floor of the Montana House today, here’s a cut of Rep. Hale championing drinking and driving as “a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years,” and that all the laws aimed at cracking down on DUI’s are destroying small business.

There is so much wrong with that statement – can’t call it logic – that I honestly don’t know where to begin.

Certainly Hale was squalling his war cry for more than just himself? A majority of voters in Basin and Boulder and House District 77 support this point of view?

Or was Rep. Alan Hale purely serving his own economic interests?

Supermontanareporter John S. Adams, at his blog The Lowdown points out that Hale owns a bar.

It’s not hard to put together…especially when bill passed the volatile GOP-controlled House 88-12.

So Hale put out the last hail that only his ale-loving mind could put out: It’s anti-business!

He probably could have gotten a few more votes if he had said that he had personally talked to several tavern and bar and restaurant owners and all of them had personally told them that they were going to have to close up shop.

I hope the people of Boulder and Basin and the rest of House District 77 that elected this neanderthal remember Rep. Hale’s priorities come 2012: Business and profit over lives and safety of both the general public and the drunk driver.

Don’t miss Pogie on Rep. Hale’s pro-DUI speech, either.

Honestly? I’m kind of embarrassed for all of my Republican friends. When they do talk about what is happening up there, they’re embarrassed.

I’d say that Rep. Hale isn’t helping things in that department.

On that note – has Rep. Knox yet remembered whether he’s ever sold marijuana before? You’d really think he’d want to clear that up.

~~~
I also want to say “HA” to all of you who criticized me for saying that drinking and Montana is a way of life here and that the culture has to change. If I recall I was accused of overstating the issue.

Think of the comfort level Hale had today (misguided as it were) as he stood there on the floor championing drinking and driving. Mind boggling.

Or not.




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