Archive for the ‘2015 Legislative Session’ Category

By JC

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 »

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