Archive for the ‘David Wanzenried’ Category

by jhwygirl

In full disclosure, I am 200% in the Dave Wanzenried for U.S. Senate camp. I firmly believe that if any democrat candidate has a chance to beat Steve Daines, the only person who’s thrown their hat in the ring that has the bonafides to run for the office and the speaking ability to motivate voters is State Senator Dave Wanzenried. Wilmer was another favorite, but she has withdrawn herself from consideration as of yesterday.

The Montana Democratic Party have a chance here (even though many think it is impossible) to reverse a few things about the Montana U.S. Senate seat race here in Montana that have gone pretty much disastrously so far.

They are able to return this race – sort of – to the people. But already the winds are wafting with party insider activities.

We are 84 days out from the election. In terms of an actual horse race, it really hasn’t started its full run, but there’s no doubt winning is a very very uphill battle for the Montana Democratic Party.

Money…name recognition – it’s a K2 climb, baby – no doubt. Montana Dems have to create excitement to raise the money and get some free press name recognition. They’ll need it to get outside money, which they are, unfortunately, going to have to rely heavily given the very little amount of time the candidate will have to raise cash.

But getting Tester elected in 2006 was that, too. He was an unknown underdog up until the primary. I know – I was making calls for him.

So who is the party insider’s choice to run for the U.S. Senate seat? A 34-year old teacher from Butte, who has one legislative session under her belt. Who decided not to run for re-election, but is considering a state senate seat for 2016. She also wrote a video blog, uploaded to YouTube for most of the 2013 legislative session.

Her name is Amanda Curtis.

Now, I watched some of Amanda’s videos back during the session. I don’t really remember much of her speaking on the floor or in committees, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t. Lots of people have talked about her – she’s certainly a favorite at the Montana Democratic party’s online mouthpiece. She’s shown she has smarts. Curtis got two bills (out of 9) passed in the difficult 2013 legislature, while of the 7 that didn’t get anywhere, 1 made it out of the house and into the state senate, at least.

Not bad for a freshman, really.

Is Curtis U.S. Senate material? I started asking around last Friday when her name came up at the Dem mouthpiece. “Hey – what about Amanda Curtis?” Well, there wasn’t a single person who knew who she was. I’ve probably asked about 20 people at this point. Of even the few that read newspapers and have opinions about Montana politics and actually talk about their opinions – no one knew who Amanda Curtis was. When I told them what I knew, the most common response was a general reply that “well, they weren’t really going to win anyway at this point.”

Currently the only name in the ring that has actually carried barrels of water in the legislature for Montana Democrats is David Wanzenried. Here’s Wanz’s work in the 2013 legislature.

Here’s his work in the 2011 legislature

Here’s 2009.

2007 legislature

2005 legislature.

2003 legislature

I’m not going any further back. Plus, this purpose of this post isn’t to highlight Wanzenried’s accomplishments. I don’t know that the legislative website actually goes back to his start in politics – but you get the gist. Wanzenried has a political resume like no other currently wishing to be considered for the Dems U.S. Senate ticket, and substantial work, at that.

But no – insiders at the Montana Democrats, along with MEA-MFT have – and here I’m going to be blunt and politically incorrect, but very accurate in what those insiders have told me – the insiders have decided that only a woman is going to excite the base, and that means Amanda Curtis, a freshman legislator and teacher from Butte, is the person who should be Montana’s next Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, to replace Max Baucus.

To run against Steve Daines.

Now, for the record, back in 2008 I found McCain’s pick of of the unknown-and-lacking-political-resume Sarah Palin to the GOP ticket an insult. McCain picked Palin because Hillary had created such a stir that he needed a Hail Mary that first week of September in 2008. He needed attention and he needed to separate himself from Obama, which had just blown America away with his Hope stuff at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. He needed someone pretty who could grab up some women votes (that Obama was scooping up) and who could excite the youth. McCain and the GOP needed thunder, and they needed the media to give a shit

So they picked a – pardon my vulgarity – they picked a vagina.

They didn’t want a smart woman who could express opinions and thoughts – they wanted someone they thought they could control, and someone that didn’t have a long history to bring up dirt (which sort of came back to bite them, didn’t it?)

I mean – they could have picked Carly Fiorina. They could have picked Elizabeth Dole. Condi Rice! Or Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

But they went with Palin.

It was insulting as a woman that the GOP thought that they could pull votes for McCain by putting any female on the ticket. Not substance – just a woman.

I mean – I can’t stand Carly Fiorina, but I was pissed for her and those other I mentioned. Except Condi – her association w/Bush was enough to make me not care about her.

Sure worked out, though, given the choices. And damn – election night 2012 was over by like 10:30 p.m. MST time, wasn’t it?

I got nothing against Amanda Curtis. She may eventually build a resume that would have her a viable challenge against a candidate like Steve Daines. But if Montana democrats and MEA MFT think that they can elevate a freshman state house representative to a winning US Senate candidate, they are absolutely – dare I say it? – batcrap crazy.

I’d love to have a viable woman potential candidate around. I’ve been reminded by many that now is just as good a time as any. At some point, there’s a choice to be made to support a woman candidate.

Now, unfortunately, does not appear to be that time. If Frankie Wilmer had stayed in, I would have wholeheartedly supported her. Quite honestly, I’m bummed she left the consideration – better to have a pool of quality and experience.

Sadly, without Frankie Wilmer or Denise Juneau, Montana Dems have yet to find themselves a viable woman candidate.

I’m also going to say this – Montana Dems have only themselves to blame for not having a viable woman candidate. They didn’t even have one running in the primary – so they can’t push the blame on Bullock for that.

And the idea that Montana Dems and MEA MFT can push any old female on us as a viable candidate is, quite frankly, sexist.

It’s an insult to me as a woman voter. It’s an insult and it’s sexist.

by jhwygirl

Sen. Debby Barrett’s bill to repeal last session’s eminent domain debacle had it’s hearing in Senate Energy and Telecommunications yesterday. A roomful of people, with overflow out into the hall, testified overwhelmingly in support of SB180

Northwestern Energy’s attorney Mr. Fitzpatrick spent a significant amount of time – after great theatrical preparation for his opposition testimony – continuing to blur the lines between merchant lines and distribution lines.

Distribution lines being lines which actually serve public uses here in Montana. Public uses that are regulated by the PSC. Public uses that have an elected official answering for the public uses that have, at times, been reason for an eminent domain taking of private property.

2011’s eminent domain bill handed handed the power of eminent domain to private corporations for the purposes of economic development. That, my friends, is the equivalent of the famously decried Kelo v. City of New London, which held that a private property could be condemned by developers in the name of economic gain and tax revenue.

Below the fold is Sen. Debby Barrett’s proponent statement and Missoula Sen. David Wanzenried’s comments submitted to the public record for SB180.

Before I do that, though, I’m going to provide the email addresses of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee and ask you all to write these guys and tell them that keeping eminent domain power in the hands of private corporations in the name of jobs or economic gain or the guise of some sort of public beneficial review during the Large Facilities Siting Act review is wrong. Tell them eminent domain is a necessary component of government, but that the power belongs with the government and not in the hands of a private corporation. Here are the emails:
ronarthun@gmail.com, robyn@robyndriscoll.com, jessmann@mt.gov, vjack@centurytel.net, jergeson4senator@yahoo.com, ljones@mtbus.net,kaufmann@mt.net, cliff@larsenusa.com, Jason@priest2010.com, ajolson@midrivers.com, tropila@mt.net, cvvincent@hotmail.com,ewalker@edwalker2010.com

Barrett and Wanz’s testimony below…. Continue Reading »

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 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

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 Pete Talbot

Filing deadline isn’t until March 15 at 5 p.m. but there are already some interesting developments in Missoula area races.

First, a little flip-flop. Democratic Rep. Teresa Henry has filed for termed-out Democratic Sen. Carolyn Squires’ seat (SD 48). And Ms. Squires has filed for Ms. Henry’s house seat (HD 96). Teresa still had two years before she was termed out in her old house seat, so this is an unusual move. Adding to the mix is veteran Democratic legislator Tom Facey, who’s challenging Ms. Henry in the primary. No Republican has filed for SD 48 yet.

The only other senate seat up for grabs out of five in the Missoula area is SD 49. The incumbent Democrat, Sen. Dave Wanzenried, hasn’t filed, nor have any challengers.

Since they ran in 2008, SD 46’s Carol Williams, SD 47’s Ron Erickson and SD 50’s Cliff Larson — all Democrats — get a pass.

The Missoula area has ten Montana House districts, nine-out-of-ten are held by Democrats and they’re all on the 2010 ballot.

Democratic incumbent Tim Furey is the only one to file in HD 91. Same with Democratic incumbents Dick Barrett (HD 93), Diane Sands (HD 95), Michele Reinhart (HD 97) and Betsy Hands (HD 99).

There are some new faces on the landscape. Robin Hamilton, the incumbent in my district (HD 92) chose not to run again. Community organizer Bryce Bennett has filed and is actively campaigning. Another Democrat, Dean McGovern, head of UM’s Campus Compact, was vigorously exploring a run at this house seat earlier, but he hasn’t filed and I haven’t heard much from him lately. He does have a website up, though.

Then there’s Ellie Hill, a name synonymous with the Poverello Center and many other nonprofits. She’s the sole entry, and running as a Democrat, in HD 94. That’s Dave McAlpin’s old seat but he’s now the head of the state crime lab here in Missoula and he probably won’t get time off to run, or serve.

I’ve already mentioned Carolyn Squires in HD 96.

The only Republican to file in the Missoula area is Michael Sopuch in HD 98. This is incumbent Sue Malek’s seat but she hasn’t filed, yet. I couldn’t find a website for Sopuch. Indeed, the only reference I could find was testimony given by a Michael Sopuch of Cash King LTD, a title loan company. This was before the Montana Department of Administration about title loan company practices.

Finally, there’s HD 100. Democrat Willis Curdy has filed. He ran last time and lost to Incumbent Republican Bill Nooney by 79 votes. Nooney has yet to file but as Nooney’s arch-nemesis Bill Vaughn points out, Nooney has a lot on his plate these days (you’ll have to scroll down to the red sub-head that reads “Falling Down”).

By the way, here’s a map to show where these districts are. The primary election will be held Tuesday, June 8.

(I’m working on candidate website links.  Most are under construction or old, if I could find them at all.  Please contact me so I can update this and future posts with current website info.  Thanks.)

by jhwygirl

This one comes entirely from my good Democratic friend Joan Vetter Ehrenberg in the Flathead:

Here we go again, Republicans, now those in the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, are cutting the funding for the Healthy Kids Initiative (CHIP) out of HB 2 and losing necessary matching federal funds that are a win/win for our budget and the funding formula for CHIP. The voters of Montana overwhelmingly approved extending health benefits for the Children’s Health Insurance Program to more than 30,000 additional children with the Healthy Kids Ballot Initiative.

Voters knew what they where voting for and have every right to have the initiative fully funded and access to federal matching funds, not a refusal or a watered down version of the program by Senate Republicans.

Now more than ever, there will be increased demand for children whose families are unable to afford health insurance. Please, make the time to call now and get involved. All of our expenses go up when 30,000 children in Montana don’t have health insurance. That’s why 70% of Montanan’s voted for the Healthy Kids Initiative.

Hold your Senator accountable by emailing them at http://leg.mt.gov/css/Default.asp or calling them at 406-444-4800 and ask them to vote yes for fully funding the Healthy Kids Initiative. Thank you.

Farmer, over at Left in the West has another take on the situation.

Republicans are a piece of work. They keep talking cuts-cuts-cuts, yet isn’t that what we got stimulus money for? To, in part, shore up the state’s budget so that necessary programs didn’t see drastic or damaging reductions?

Sen. David Wanzenried (D-Missoula) said people getting laid off or facing hard times are the people who need government help from the programs in the budget, and that money exists to maintain them at needed levels. “It seems to me we can be bold if we want to, and figure out how we’re going to do that.”

Sen. Carol Williams (D-Missoula) explains that the Senate Republicans may not have the votes needed to make the changes they are pushing for:

Williams said late Thursday that Senate Republicans have been working with Democrats and the Schweitzer administration to find some agreement on “the really touchy issues,” but hadn’t found common ground.

She also said she wasn’t sure whether Senate Republicans had enough votes on their own to make changes in the budget bill or pass it. Republicans hold an 11-8 majority on the Finance Committee and a 27-23 majority in the full Senate.

Democrats in the Senate might offer some votes for the budget bills, but not if it means cutting substantial funds out of education or the Healthy Montana Kids program, Williams said.

~~~~

To reach the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, contact Prudence Gilroy the secretary – pgilroy@mt.gov. Make sure to request that your comments be forwarded to the entire Senate Finance and Claims Committee. You can also call the legislative information desk and leave a message for the entire committee in one easy phone call to 406-444-4800.

by jhwygirl

Sen. David Wanzenried’s bill – SB236, which would abolish the death penalty in Montana, has its second round of hearings today (Wednesday) at 8 a.m. in House Judiciary.

This one has passed the Senate floor on a 27-23 bipartisan vote.

One person that has spoken in support of this bill is Marietta Jaeger Lane of Three Forks. Marietta is a former resident of Michigan who has now lived in Montana for 9 years. Her seven-year old daughter was abducted in 1973 from the Missouri Headwaters State Park while the family was on a camping trip. For more than a year, Ms. Jaeger Lane was left without answers. She made it known to the press that she wanted to speak to the person that took her precious little girl – and 15 months later, on the anniversary day of her daughter’s disappearance, that person called her, asking “”So what do you want to talk to me about?”

Marietta has testified in support of abolishing the death penalty.

To say the death of any other person would be just retribution is to insult the immeasurable worth of our loved ones who are victims. We can not put a price on their lives.

In my case, my own daughter was such a gift of joy and sweetness and beauty, that to kill someone in her name would have been to violate and profane the goodness of her life; The idea is offensive and repulsive to me.

I first heard those words during debate on the Senate floor. They absolutely moved me. I don’t describe myself as a religious person, but I found myself pondering may things in the days following that hearing – concepts of forgiveness and revenge, life and death, God…right and wrong. I’m not a religious person – I’ve not been inside a church for services in….in more than a decade?

I’ve also heard more than I needed ever to know about the kidnapping of Shasta and Dylan Groene – and Dylan’s subsequent murder at the hands of now-convicted Joseph Duncan III. There’s been other times in my life, too, where certainly I’ve (without reservations) unquestionably supported a death sentence.

But hearing Ms. Lane’s words made me feel, honestly – petty. Small. Ignorant.

The death penalty is something that I’ve wrestled with for decades. I’ve found myself of either side based on moral decision; based on the inequity with which it is overwhelmingly applied with regards to those of lesser means, based on the permanence of such a sentence and the possibility of imposing it falsely; based on a feeling that what that person did was so horrific that they aren’t worthy of living; based on killing the guilty is too easy of a sentence for those that committed the crime (in other words, it’s too easy of a way out); and, yes, based even on the costs to taxpayers.

There is much that can be found about Ms. Marietta Jaeger Lane – here is her testimony given during the 2007 legislature.

…………….

I’ve come to my own personal realization that more death does not bring closure. I’ve experienced situations – thankfully rarely – that have provoked real rage and feelings desirous of revenge. I’ve thankfully not acted upon those feelings, but I’ve also learned that things have a way of coming back around. Revenge, I don’t think, is for our hands. It is best left to something much more capable of passing judgment on that which it created than a mere mortal like me. And beyond those thoughts, I don’t believe that more killing serves justice to those that are killed, and it only prolongs coming to whatever closure is able to be had out of a horrific loss.

Consider contacting the House Judiciary committee to support SB 236 and abolish Montana’s death penalty. Jennifer Eck is the secretary, jeck@mt.gov. If you contact Jennifer, make sure to request that your comments be forwarded and provided to the entire committee.

You can also call the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for the entire House Judiciary legislative committee. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462.

by jhwygirl

65 committee meetings scheduled for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Argh. Looks like something is FUBAR (for a Sunday) – can’t read the bills.

The network path was not found.

Of note, I guess, based on previous posts, I see SB236, which is from Sen. David Wanzenried has its House committee hearing on Wednesday. This is the bill that would abolish Montana’s death penalty. It’s passed the Senate on a 27-23 vote. Help give this one the help that it needs to get it out of committee and onto the House floor. In House Judiciary – Jennifer Eck the secretary – jeck@mt.gov.

SB360, from Sen. Jim Kean, of Butte, has its second round of hearings on Wednesday, too. This one made my list of bad environmental legislation. It exempts 10 miles or up to 10% of new right-of-way from the major facility siting act. It also defines sensitive areas as “government recognized” only, which really exempts out a bunch of federally- owned lands. Automatically exempting new ROW on the premise that what is there is already there is piss-poor. What if conditions have changed? Won’t matter – it’s exempt – no need to look. Ugh. In House Natural Resources – Shirley Chovanak the secretary – schovanak@mt.gov. Don’t wait until some enlargement of a major facility like the Yellowstone Pipeline – which runs right here through Missoula, folks – is proposed…because then it’ll be too late.

Well, that’s all I got.

Cheers!

by jhwygirl

Rep. Ed Butcher’s HB418 had its second reading on the Senate floor yesterday, but not without impassioned debate. In the end, the vote was 27-23 with a small handful of legislators crossing the aisle – including Sen. Gary L. Perry (R), who has sponsored a number of good environmental bills this session; and Sen. Rick Liable (R), of Darby. Both voted NO.

Democrats Sen. Ken “Kim” Hansen and Sen. Sharon Stewart-Peregoy crossed the aisle to vote YES for this environmental disaster.

Missoula’s Senator David Wanzenried spoke forcefully in debate against the bill:

Several Democrats, however, said HB418 grants “special favors” to plant developers and questioned why they need such protections to do business.

“The business model doesn’t work,” said Sen. Dave Wanzenried, D-Missoula. “If it did work, they wouldn’t be here asking for this. Who’s going to be in here next asking for a special deal?”

Missoula’s senators all voted against the bill.

Overwhelmingly, the opposition testimony to this bill focused on the “free pass” on environmental review being given to the horse slaughter business. A “free pass” which is an affront to Montana citizens guarantee to a clean and healthful environment.

For those of you unfamiliar with the history of the Montana Environmental Protection Act, the Button Valley Bugle had a great post about a week ago detailing not only some of the current assaults against it, but a history of how Montana came to enact MEPA

Today sets up the final vote, after which – and it does look like it’s heading that way – the bill will head to Governor Schweiter’s desk for signature.

The question now – that many are asking – is will the Governor sign a bill (any of these bills) that assault MEPA and ignore our constitutional rights to a clean and healthful environment? Bills that have little chance of survival in a court challenge – a court challenge that will cost Montana taxpayers a whole hell of a lot of cash – and I’m talking costs from both sides of the litigation.

Politics, Peaks, and Valleys has an especially scathing post regarding that subject. I highly recommend that, too, for reading.

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by jhwygirl

There is a correction in this post, below, for HB75

This post is just for Monday and Tuesday. 105 committee hearings for just those two days. Keep in mind, too, that this is all on the downhill side, too – and I need to remember that also. Floor hearings are becoming all the more important, too. I will be making an effort to get up brief previews as stuff hits the floor. Those will be, please note, don’t-delay, email-or-call-today types of notices.

Last Thursday – and then Friday – were two disappointments – both SB425, the “Walleye Welfare” bill, and SB497, the “it protects protesters from people that are entering health care clinics” bill both passed 2nd and 3rd readings in the Senate – on a nearly party-line vote. These were no-go bills from my perspective – and others – so that they passed is a bad thing.

Is there any good to report out of that? Well, in committee, both bills passed unanamously out of committee – SB425 a 9-0 vote our of Senate Fish & Game, and SB497 a 12-0 vote out of Senate Judiciary. By the time they hit the floor, all of the Democratic committee members – save one on each of those bills – had changed their vote. So while the bills weren’t killed on the floor, clearly there was movement. Is there more good? There’s still another chance at these bills – they’re now in their respective House committees….which means ongoing public comment should continue, and may have an affect. So keep it up.

Now, onto the task at hand, shall we?

Monday has an interesting one – the topic of which we’ve blogged about here previously. Rep. Scott Sales has HB526, which would require the use of regular road salt and prohibit the use of magnesium chloride and calcium chloride on state and county roads. Now..boy. What do you say about this? The bill started out prohibiting salt – and I could see where that was too unspecific, so as originally proposed it has been amended. But amended to prohibit magnesium and calcium chloride? When both are more effective? And road salt is more corrosive? And worse for water quality? What are these people thinking? This is House Appropriations (another crazy place for it – it was originally in House Transportation – and me, I’d love to see this in House Natural Resources) – Samuel Speerschneider the secretary – sspeerschneider@mt.gov.

Here’s another one of those crazy unconstitutional ones: Rep. Joel Boniek has HB246 which would “Exempt(ing) from the federal regulation under the commerce clause of the constitution of the United States a firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured and retained in Montana”. Honestly. The lunacy. And the waste of time. Boniek and the rest of the loonies that are proposing this kind of stuff should be embarrassed.

Sen. Jeff Essman has an interesting one: SB348, which would put forth a constitutional amendment to Montanan’s that would result in yearly legislative sessions that would alternate between regular and budgetary. This passed through the Senate overwhelmingly – 42-8. Now – I don’t know what I think about this: On one hand, if ridiculous legislation (like the one above, for example) weren’t getting proposed, maybe there wouldn’t be a need for annual sessions. On the other hand, 90 days has rarely been enough time to get stuff done. The cost of annual sessions – the fiscal note gets away from addressing it all together by basically saying nothing is going to happen until a time period out of our purview – would be significant. Further, we have interim sessions now where real analysis and attempts at bi-partisan agreement are worked out on significant issues. When would that stuff get done? If someone could explain that to me, maybe then I could support it – but as it stands now, we got a 90 day session that essentially focuses on the “regular” stuff like approving proposed bills that affect every day life, water quality, air quality, taxes, etc., and they have nominal hearings that are politically driven, with little substance given to true analysis, whether fiscal or scientific, of the effects. Would Essman’s proposal result in year-after-year of that? No analysis, just politically-driven decisions. If so, hell no. I wish the legislators would consider all that before they go putting forth a constitutional amendment to the voters that would result in a politically-driven decision that would then result in year-after-year of politically-driven decisions.

Sen. Carol C. Juneau wants to regulate the sale of alcoholic energy drinks with SB438. This one passed nicely out of the Senate, and hopefully finds the same support in the House. In House Business & Labor, Santella Baglivo the secretary – sbaglivo@mt.gov.

I’m going to have to split this post, people, so please click Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

I suppose, perhaps, we are going to see some serious executive action this week on the backlog of previous hearings? The list of hearings seems awfully short: Only 8 hearings scheduled for both the House and Senate for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Which means I’ll have to be looking into what’s been left hanging.

On Monday, Rep. Mary Caferro finally gets her hearing on HB401 in House Appropriations. HB401 deals with regulations concerning meth-contaminated properties and is geared toward providing protections for renters and homebuyers. I blogged about this just a few days ago – and in case you missed that piece, just go and check this list out, which not only lists meth-contaminated properties around the state, but allows you to see how long (too long) it takes from determination that a property is meth-contaminated to when the property owner gets notified – yet alone how long it takes to get to a point of actual remediation. There is contact information in the previous post.

Sen. David Wanzenried has SB463 before the Senate Public Health, Welfare & Safety committee. This bill would make changes to laws concerning employment of disabled persons – making educational materials available and allowed them to be employed by family members. Joan Linkenbach is the secretary – jlinkenbach@mt.gov. Make sure to mention the bill by number and to note, specifically, that you are submitting public comment for the committee members.

Also on Monday, Sen. Jim Schockley has SB497, which is a messy affair – to say the lease. It would make it a crime to obstructing a protest at a health care facility. What if you are protesting the protest? Who can come withing 8 feet of whom? Talk about making it a mess for police. Maybe Shockley would rather see everyone arrested? Or is it “I was here first?” Better to protect the ability to protest, and to make sure those protesters are a safe distance away from the health care facility – like 100 feet? He’s got 36 feet in there. Lord – what a mess. Say “NO” to this one folks: Contact the Senate Judiciary committee by emailing Pam Schindler and telling her you are submitting public comment, and request that it be given to all the committee members. Her email address is pschindler@mt.gov.

On Tuesday Rep. Betsy Hands is ushering HB569 which would set up a revolving state fund for affordable housing. I said Affordable Housing people – and rather than belabor the point, search 4&20 for that term, over there on the left, and you’ll see how badly this bill is needed. This is in House Appropriations, Samuel Speerschneider the secretary: sspeerschneider@mt.gov.

Remember, if you can’t or aren’t able to send an email, go ahead and call the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for the entire committee. You can also leave individual messages for individual legislators. Up to 5 at a time. Make sure to have the bill number handy. Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462. The Session Information Desk opens at 7:30 a.m., and closes at 5 p.m.

by jhwygirl

Well, fear and loathing for me, at least…ya’all know how I am about water issues.

One of the biggest disappointments for me last week was Monday’s tabling of Senator David Wanzenried’s proposal brought forward out of his work with the Environmental Quality Council (EQC) – SB4, which would create a standing water policy subcommittee of the EQC. Also on the agenda in Monday’s hearing was Senator Terry Murphy’s proposed SB22, which would have – as originally proposed – created a permanent water policy committee.

I blogged about SB4 last week.

The interim Water Policy Committee was created in the 2007 legislative session as a subcommittee of the Environmental Quality Council to address, specifically, water quality and policy issues. It was created out of a recognition that water issues are both important and complex – and a special committee was needed to focus on those issues. The interim committee was also tasked with determining whether a permanent subcommittee to the EQC had any advantages for addressing the water policy issues that are important to the citizens of Montana. In other words, was there really a need in addressing water quality, quantity and policy issues that wasn’t been adequately addressed in the EQC?

A brief explanation is needed. The interim water policy committee was a subcommittee of the EQC because the EQC has the statutory responsibility and authority over water quality issues. It is established under Title 5, Chapter 16 of the Montana Code. In other words – it’s pretty important that any committee dealing with water fall under the EQC because only the EQC has authority to perform the administrative rule review, draft legislation review, program evaluation, and monitoring functions of an interim committee for the DEQ, FWP and DNRC. See clause 10.

SB4 was tabled on a party-line vote. SB22 moved forward, despite its deficiencies which, notably, was its proposal to create an autonomous water policy committee. That was a party-line vote also. SB22 does not allow for the direction and oversight of the EQC.

Testimony given on Monday relayed this important deficiency in SB22 – that there were statutory obligations that needed to be met, and creating an autonomous committee only created more dysfunction and ensured further delay in legislation related to water quality issues.

In the infinite wisdom of what is now clearly becoming a political battle, rather than an issue-oriented meeting of the minds, Republicans voted to table SB4, and start tweaking the already weak SB22.

Now we have a bill that is moving to alter Title 5 and the Montana Code regulating the EQC. This is where things always start to get dicey. The advantage to SB4 was that it kept the current state law as it has been. It didn’t go tweaking with a whole bunch of other laws. It had undergone extensive review during the interim committee sessions this past year.

These changes are being done under the enormous work load and ticking time clock that we call Montana Legislative Session 2009. This is how disasters happen – how ineffective legislation is created, and how good intentions turn into monsters for the citizens of Montana.

It’s this boring stuff, people, that you all need to give some attention. The repercussions are enormous and costly.

Now we have a bill proposing to create an autonomous interim committee for water policy. It would set its own agenda despite the fact that EQC oversees legislation for DEQ, FWP and DNRC (the regulatory water agencies).

Any law that removes the word “shall” and changes it to “may” is a disaster waiting to happen. Note that change in SB22.

Another important aspect of SB4 is its elimination of restrictions on terms in the EQC. This is sorely needed as water becomes more and more an upfront issue needing action. Water issues are complex, and should not be politicized. They need expertise, which can only be gained through time. Look at it this way – as Montana grows, there’s less water to go around. I want – Montanans deserve – expertise on the legislature regarding water issues. Eliminating terms is one way to get ’em.

Wanzenried isn’t exactly a screaming crazed liberal (sorry Dave). He’s a legislator’s legislator who looks at the issues, absent of partisan politics, and seeks to mediate and get the job done. Tabling a bill that had oversight and review of both the interim committee and the Natural Resources Committee is foolhardy.

I call on the Natural Resources Committee to leave politics out of water issues. It isn’t about who proposed the darn piece of legislation, yet alone what the party affiliation was for who proposed it. It’s about good legislation. Quit messing with other laws that have been working just to fix a weak SB22. Untable SB4, and work together to make SB4 the best water legislation to come out of the Montana Legislature, ever.

~~~~

SB22 is being heard in the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Monday, at 8:30 a.m. Here is a list of the members:
Gebhardt, Kelly (Ch)
Barrett, Debby (V Ch)
Curtiss, Aubyn
Hansen, Ken
Kaufmann, Christine
Keane, Jim
Perry, Gary
Peterson, Jim
Steinbeisser, Donald
Tropila, Mitch
Wanzenried, David

You can submit pubic comment by emailing staffer Sonja Nowakowski and requesting distribution to committee members. I’ve also provided all the committee members email addresses above. Sonja’s email is snowakowski@mt.gov.

by jhwygirl

Legislators (and lobbyists) are going to be busy: There are 183 public hearings this week.

Below are some highlights (for me, at least) on a day-by-day basis:

Monday: Missoula’s Senator Dave Wanzenried has SB4 which proposes to create a permanent water policy subcommittee of the Environmental Quality Council. Water issues are important and complex – and they aren’t going to go away. A permanent committee is needed to address the issues, and to build seniority and a volume of knowledge on the subject. This hearing is in the Senate Natural Resources Committee – and you can submit pubic comment by emailing staffer Sonja Nowakowski and requesting distribution to committee members. Sonja’s email is snowakowski@mt.gov.

Also on Monday, also in the Senate, and also from Missoula, is Senator Ron Erickson’s (Senator Erickson, you need a legislative webpage) SB9, which would authorize funding of transportation project with use of revenue bonds. This one is in the Local Government committee and is important to many large communities around the state. As many of you know, state gas taxes are not disbursed proportionally, so larger communities face a greater burden on road funding. I’d hope that this has bi-partisan support. Leanne Heisel is the staffer for the Local Government committee, and you can email her your public comment at lheisel@mt.gov.

In the House, on Monday, I see HB30, which allows for youth election judges, of the age of 16. What better way to instill good citizen involvement? This one is from Rep. Franke Wilmer, of Bozeman. It’s in the House’s State Administration committee. Sheri Heffelfinger is the staffer, sheffelfinger@mt.gov.

Another one I like is Sidney’s Rep. Walter McNutt who has proposed HB52, which would ensure funding of hydrogeological studies of Montana’s ground water and prioritization of subbasins by the groundwater assessment steering committee. It also adds a member of the development community to the committee. It is in the Appropriations committee, staffed by Jon Moe, jmoe@mt.gov.

Stream access is up on Tuesday in the House’s Fish, Wildlife & Parks committee. HB190, sponsored by Billings Rep. Kendall Van Dyk is the sponsor. We blogged this one here, and the Missoulian covered it here. Doug Sternberg is the staffer, dsternberg.

I’ll have a separate post about HB88, which proposes to eliminate same-day registration. That hearing is on Tuesday, also.

On Wednesday, yet another near-and-dear-to-me hearing on water issues: SB93 and SB94, both proposed by Senator Larry Jent (who also needs a legislative webpage) of Bozeman, deal with water issues. SB93 clarifies groundwater appropriations in closed basins, and (very importantly) requires mitigation for net depletion of surface. The requirement of mitigation for net depletion is key – the current code merely recommends “if necessary.” SB94 revises laws concerning ground water appropriation in closed basins. In addition to further clarifying the hydrogeologic assessment requirements, it eliminates mitigative measures such as removal of vegetation (innovative, huh?). Both of these are in Natural Resources – snowakowski@mt.gov.

In the House, Rep. Jill Cohenour of Helena has 3 bills in the House Natural Resources related to water: SB39, SB40 and SB41. SB39 establishes a water rights enforcement program, associated appropriations and provides for consideration and protection of senior water rights holders in enforcement actions. SB40 generally revises provisions in the water permitting process, but importantly, it allows for objections to be heard in informal hearings. SB41 requires discharge permits to be obtained. All three are in the House Natural Resources Committee – Joe Kolman is the staffer, jkolman@mt.gov

Rep. Pat Ingram, of Thompson Falls has proposed HB18, on behalf of the State Administration and Veterans’ Affairs interim committee. It provides for a pilot program of mail-in ballots for certain counties for certain elections, for 2009 and 2010. It affects 17 counties: Big Horn, Blaine, Carbon, Carter, Gallatin, Jefferson, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Missoula, Phillips, Pondera, Ravalli, Richland, Rosebud, Sanders, Sweet Grass, and Yellowstone. This is in the House State Administration committee, sheffelfinger@mt.gov.

I’ll be looking at Thursday and Friday later this week.

If any ya’all want to adopt-a-bill, any of the 100’s that have been proposed, shoot me an email. It’s over there on the right under Pages.

by jhwygirl

The 61st Legislative session may not convene until Thursday, January 5th, but start-up tasks are being dispatched quickly, with committee assignment having been rolled out this past week.

With the state House split 50-50 and a Democratic governor, the Speaker of the House went to the Democratic party. Initially, Speaker Bob Bergren (Havre) said he was going to pick democrats for all committee assignments, but later relented, announcing that republicans would hold the chairs of 3 of 5 of the state house’s most powerful committees. Overall, committee chairs are split 50-50.

Locally, Missoulians have Rep. Michele Reinhardt (D) as vice-chair of the Business & Labor Committee; Robin Hamilton (D) as vice-chair of both the Education Committee and of Ethics; Dave McAlpin (D) as vice-chair of both Fish, Wildlife & Parks (Superior’s Gordon Hendrick (R) co-chairs this spot) and Legislative Administration; and Betsy Hands (D) vice-chair’s Local Government – and shares this seat with Victor’s Gary MacLaren (R).

Other notables with chairs are Mike Jopek (D – Whitefish) who is chairing Agriculture (where Julie French (D – Scobey) vice-chairs); Franke Wilmer (D – Bozeman) who chairs Ethics; Kendall Van Dyk (D – Billings) chairing Fish, Wildlife & Parks; JP Pomnichowski (D – Bozeman) vice-chairs Natural Resources; and Jill Cohenour (D – Helena) vice-chairs Taxation.

For a full list of committee assigns, check this link out.

In the Senate, there isn’t anything for Missoulians in terms of chair or vice-chair seats – the Senate’s 50 seats are controlled by 27 republicans – but committee assigns for local representation include Ron Erickson (D) on Taxation and Local Government and Energy & Telecommunications; Carolyn Squires (D) on State Administration and Business, Labor & Economic Affairs; Carol Williams (D) and Dave Wanzenried (D) on both Rules and Finance & Claims; Cliff Larsen (D) on Public Health, Welfare, and Safety and Judiciary and Agriculture, Livestock & Irrigation; and Wanzenried (again) on Natural Resources and Highways & Transportation.

Other notables to watch in the senate committees include Jonathan Windy Boy (D – Box Elder) in Business, Labor & Economic Affairs; Energy & Telecommunications includes Linda Moss (D – Billings) and Bob Hawks (D – Bozeman); Local Government includes Steve Gallus (D – Butte), Kim Gillan (D – Billings) and Jesse Laslovich (D – Anaconda); and Jim Keane (D – Butte) and Christine Kaufmann (D – Helena) on Natural Resources.

Another notable (as in WTH?! notable) is Rick Laible, who is chairing Education and Cultural Resources. Laible sponsored one education related bill in the 2007 session – SB 396 – in which he proposed to cut state funding support for schools by $84.5 million in FY 2008; $82.5 million in FY 2009; $80.7 million in FY 2010 and $79 million in FY 2011. It would have reduced general fund revenue by nearly $100 million in FY 2009 and FY 2010, while resulting in the need to hire two additional tax examiners for the Department of Revenue. It would have repealed county school transportation grants, quality educator payments and American Indian achievement gap payments.

A full listing of Senate committee assigns is here.

As an aside – The state Legislative Services Division is offering classes to the public to teach how to use the online Legislative Audit Workflow System (LAWS). While 2 sessions have already been held, there is one more being offered December 4th, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. For more information on that, click here.

The 2009 LAWS is already up and running. I’ll be putting the link over on the right, under Citizen’s Info.

by jhwygirl

Gary Brown, Democratic primary winner of HD-100’s race has made the tough decision to withdraw his candidacy due to health concerns. He and his family are in our thoughts and prayers.

As Pete noted in his most recent post, the Missoula County Democrats Central Committee will be meeting next Tuesday, August 12th (7:00 p.m., City Council Chambers on Pine Street) to select the replacement to run against Bill Nooney. And frequent readers of this site know that we really would love to show Nooney the door – the exit door – from the state legislature.

Curdy’s got the backing of Missoula’s Senators Dave Wanzenried and Carol Williams, along with Representatives Tim Furey and Robin Hamilton. Fine, get-‘er-done Democrats. In their letter to Jim Dayton, Chair of the Missoula County Democrats, they noted that August 19th is the deadline to name a replacement, and announcing Brown’s replacement is important to maintain momentum.

I also liked this (my emphasis added):

As a long-time resident and property-owner in the district who campaigned vigorously during the just-concluded primary, Mr. Curdy knows the district and understands the commitment and resources required to win in November.

Yep, living in your district should be a requirement…shouldn’t it?

I like Curdy – not that I didn’t like Brown – but I liked Curdy because of his wide background: a 30-year high school teacher (who could endure that long?!), a Bitterroot Hotshot and a Missoula Smokejumper (talk about demonstrating both teamwork and leadership!), and (and!) a USFS pilot (stress management, anyone?). There’s more – trustee on both the Missoula Rural Fire District and the Big Flat Irrigation District (ever had to work with irrigators?)…..Lot’s of great qualities in there to help bring the legislature closer to getting done the huge amounts of work it needs to do.

And voters sure need to consider electing candidates that can work together and get stuff done. We certainly don’t need a repeat of 2007, and it is important to ensure a Democratic majority in the state’s House of Representatives.

Don’t believe me? The 2007 legislature was a disaster for the stuff that never even made it out of committee, due to the roadblocks thrown up by the state’s republicans. The list is significantly longer for stuff that didn’t make it out of committee than stuff that did. And then there’s be the party-line vote for the stuff that did…Yoy, what a disaster.

And in reality, it’s sad. Because, in the end, it’s the citizens that suffer.

I mean – stuff like bills to study a problem (example: public access from county bridges) couldn’t even make it. Then there’s the stuff associated with some of my favorite subjects: water quality, water rights, zoning and subdivision, fire protection.

I won’t rehash all the gory details: Go search the 2007 legislative bills and see for yourself.




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