Archive for the ‘Ed Butcher’ Category

by jhwygirl

An unfortunate vote.

Despite overwhelming opponent testimony focused on the poor environmental portion of HB418, the bill passed out of the Senate Agriculture committee with a 7-2 vote.

Senators Cliff Larson (D-Missoula) and Gary Branae (D-Billings) were the NO votes.

Thank you, Senator Larson, Senator Branae.

Unfortunately, this one will go to the floor. Probably Thursday. Now is the time to contact the Senators in anticipation of that floor vote.

If you need more information on this vile bill, check this link out. Those posts will provide you with additional information, along with other posts elsewhere around the Montana blogosphere.

This page takes you to an interactive map where you can figure out who represents you…or you can go to project vote smart. Here is a link to all State Senators, where their contact information is available.

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

Barring amendments to that bill that remove the restrictions on MEPA and judicial challenges, this bill is one that has been cited as a violation of Montana’s guaranteed right to a clean and healthful environment.

Considering where this legislature is heading, folks – people might want to consider dropping a few bucks to Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) – one of the many organizations that is up there in Helena, daily, providing thoughtful, educated testimony on each and every one of these horrible environmental bills. This sinking economy has had its impact on this fine organization, and they are still working hard despite their cuts. MEIC’s Anne Hedges has said that these bad bills will result in litigation. They’re going to need all the help they an get.

by jhwygirl

A reminder to all you folks out there that HB418, the proposed law that would authorize “investor-owned equine slaughter or processing facilities” is set for hearing today at 3 p.m.

You can read more about this vile piece of legislation here at 4&20 or here at Left in the West or here at Will Work For Fish. And in those posts are other informative links that give even more information.

If you haven’t called or emailed yet, please take the 2 minutes necessary to do so and let the entire Senate Agricultural Committee know – in one easy, quick phone call – that this legislation isn’t something that we want here in Montana. You can do that by calling the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800. Your message will be delivered directly to the entire committee. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462.

Know that there are lobbyists up there – rumor has it Conrad Burns is chief cheerleader behind this whole sordid fiasco, and may even make an appearance today – lobbying away for this bill for outside corporate interests which include facilities in Canada and breeders who need somewhere to dispose of their “mistakes”. Burns has, in fact, had his heels dug in to promoting these facilities going back to 2004 when he slipped a clause into an appropriations bill that legalized the slaughter of wild horses on BLM grounds, and allowed the product to be shipped overseas. Now, all he wants is more facilities to do so.

And don’t you bet that isn’t true – otherwise, why do you think this bill is geared towards “investor-owned” facilities? Who else, frankly, would afford the old Senator Burns lobbying fees?

Somehow, I’m doubting Conrad’ll have the you-know-whats to show up backing this bill in person. I’m guessing he’ll probably send a friend.

by jhwygirl

I’m working on the committee hearings for Wednesday and Thursday, but I thought I’d give ya’all a few posts to chomp on while I’m hitting the keyboard:

Take a moment to check out J.S. Adams’ rant about the bevy of shitty environmental legislation this session, and the disparity between the Montana Democratic Party platform and the proposals and voting records coming out of Helena.

The Editor at the Button Valley Bugle gets at their own rant on crappy water quality and MEPA and air quality bills by offering a preview of some of the stuff coming up in the next week or so….

Will Fish For Work did a post I overlooked on Rep. Ed Butcher’s horseslaughter bill. Make sure to check out that view over there.

Finally – Matt Singer went into his own mini-rant on Montana GOP’s newest ridiculous tax measure: Cutting taxes on capital gains.

Oh, yeah…now Jay over at Left in the West jumped in and joined us all, with his thoughts on Butcher’s horse slaughter bill. He adds some information on former Senator Conrad Burns’ complicity in the whole sordid mess.

Is there anyone else I’m missing out there? If so, let me know…

by jhwygirl

This one has been flying a bit under radar. I have to admit I’ve been watching it, as I’ve received a few emails from friends. Friends who normally don’t pay attention to legislative stuff, and friends who are both opponents and proponents to the legislation.

I will also admit that at first, rather reluctantly, I had been convinced that this was a ‘good’ bill – but not enough to write about it. My lukewarm support was due to the respect I had for my friends that had contacted me, and my willingness to maintain an open mind to something that, on first instinct, I find abhorrent. Because of my open mind on the subject, I’ve read a tremendous amount about horse slaughter, and I’ve come to the conclusion – now – that HB418, which would allow and authorize investor owned livestock slaughter and processing plants, is a very very bad thing.

This bill has survived the House floor, and is now in the Senate. It is set for a March 12th hearing date in the Senate Agriculture, Livestock & Irrigation Committee. March 12th is this Thursday.

First off – and away from what many might describe as the emotional side of this issue – this bill contains some very offensive attacks on environmental laws and review, along with attempts at taking away citizen rights for judicial review. Let’s look at the title:

An act authorizing investor-owned equine slaughter or processing facilities; prohibiting a court from granting an injunction to stop or delay the construction of an equine slaughter or processing facility based on legal challenges or appeals of a permit, license, or certificate, or other approval issued in conjunction with environmental laws, (and the) setting (of) bonding requirements.

With regards to bonding – this law would require that anyone who files a judicial challenge to a facility put up 20% of the cost of the facility as surety bond.

This is the same type of clause being added into some of the other bad environmental legislation that many – bloggers, news reporters, news columnists, letters to the editor, and op-ed columnists are writing about.

Justice only for those with money. I guess that is what the sponsors of the bill – BUTCHER, ANKNEY, BALES, DE. BARRETT, BELCOURT, BERRY, T. BROWN, CAMPBELL, GEBHARDT, HINER, HINKLE, HOVEN, JONES, KERNS, KLOCK, MCCHESNEY, MILLER, MORE, MURPHY, J. PETERSON, RANDALL, REGIER, RIPLEY, ROBERTS, SMITH, STAHL, STEINBEISSER, TUTVEDT, VANCE, VINCENT, WAGNER, WARBURTON, WELBORN, WINDY BOY, ZINKE, REICHNER, BEAN, KASTEN – think that is all that Montanans are entitled to…and along the way, hell be damned to our constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment.

Arguments for the bill include the fact that the economy is suffering and many people can not afford to care for their horse so they are turning them loose and/or allowing them to starve. That this bill is a humane solution to the problem.

These kind of arguments anger me. First of all, owning an animal is a responsibility. That includes not only feeding and caring, but also dealing responsibly with the issue should we falter with those – meaning you find that animal a new home or, worse of worse, you humanely put that animal down. There are plenty of organizations out there – if not individuals – that will help feed horses. Not only that, you go to neighbors, you go to your church. There are horse rescue organizations, you can contact your veterinarian who might know people willing to help, 4-H clubs, equine therapeutic associations….a simple search of the internet unveils many options.

The humane solution is to make the effort and deal with the issue. The lazy solution is to send the animal to slaughter and wash your hands of the responsibility.

Starving cases are another. People who are doing this need help. In most cases, they’ve got mental health issues, just like the cat or dog hoarder. Having a horse slaughtering facility is not going to help those situations.

The fee for euthanasia of a horse is about $200. Then there is a county landfill charge. Sorry – I know this is rather graphic for some, and said rather matter-of-fact…but there it is. It’s a responsibility of ownership. Plain and simple. I had to do it for my pet. People do it every day for their pets. Horse owners, frankly, do not get a pass on this issue.

Why do we need a law that not only facilitates bad ownership behavior, but takes away the rights of the citizens of Montana along the way?

The truth is, horse slaughter is very inhumane. That this bill wants to facilitate it with “investor owned facilities” should be all the more alarming. Couple that with the fact that Montana’s regulatory capacity has shown serious problems – well, let’s just say that approval of this bill would not only certainly ensure and facilitate inhumane treatment, it would also bring with it complete disregard for our already weak regulatory environment and the understaffed departments that enforce them.

Paula Bacon, Former Mayor of Kaufman, Texas provided public comment to the House Agriculture Committee. You can view the content of her letter here.

This website, titled has more information than you’d ever want to know about horse slaughter.

OpEd News did a very thorough piece the other day detailing the truth and lies behind horse slaughter in the United States.

Think most horse are only the cheapest, sickest horses those who go to slaughter? Wrong. Most of the horses who go to slaughter are young and healthy – 92.3%. Horse rescue organizations report being routinely outbid by killer buyers at horse auctions in all regions of the country when they attempt to save horses. The presence of a legal horse slaughter industry is preventing horse rescue and driving up costs for horse rescue organizations.

Please take the time to contact all members of the Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Committee. I’ve taken the time to add the email address of each committee member, below.

Donald Steinbeisser (Chair)
Terry Murphy
Gary Branae
Taylor Brown
Bradley Maxon Hamlett
Ken Hansen
Verdell Jackson
Cliff Larsen
Rick Ripley You’ll need to use the online message form to contact Sen. Ripley

Other options for contact include using the online message form or calling the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for the entire Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Committee per call. Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Imagine being Rep. Roger Koopman for a moment. No, really. Go drink a quadruple shot of espresso, yell at your kids, kick a fawn–whatever it takes to get that angry and aggressive. Imagine yourself wanting to purge your political party of people you feel are “socialists”. Imagine finding like minded individuals to help you achieve this goal. Surely, like you, these people would be so proud of their activities and opinions they would openly reveal themselves to the voters and the media, right? Right?

Not these guys.

Whether or how these groups coordinated their efforts is unclear. Officials from most of the groups did not return telephone messages, ignored e-mails or declined to say much about what they are doing. What is unusual about most of this latest collection of groups…is their formation just before the election and their relative obscurity and secrecy, says state Political Practices Commissioner Dennis Unsworth.

Apparently Koopman’s (and John Sinrud’s–he has ties to some of the groups, and Ed Butcher’s–but we’re all used to Ed and his family being less than forthcoming about their political associates) pals don’t answer the telephone, provide their phone number, let alone provide the correct digits, or even stay on the phone once they’ve said “Hello?”

Speaking of Ed Butcher, since these groups have become his BFFs let’s remember what District Judge Dirk Sandefur said two years ago, when he declared that Butcher’s son’s efforts to influence Montana politics were marked by a “pervasive and general pattern of fraud”:

At least 43 of the signature-gatherers, who vouched for thousands of signatures, listed “false or fictitious” addresses on their sworn affidavits turned in with the signatures, Sandefur noted. That violation alone casts doubt on the petitioners’ credibility, and that oath is critical to guarding the integrity of the initiative process, he said.

Credibility. Integrity. Qualities that start with simply putting the correct e-mail address down on a form. Or just picking up the phone.

by Rebecca Schmitz

My sitemate, Jay, wrote an excellent post today on Left in the West about Trevis Butcher’s running afoul–yet again–of Montana’s election laws because his financial backers don’t want to reveal themselves. There’s a side story to the legal woes of Butcher’s group, Montanans in Action, in both the Missoulian and the Billings Gazette. Apparently this most recent investigation has cramped Butcher’s style:

Trevis Butcher, the group’s treasurer, said the investigation and ensuing legal battle have prevented MIA from carrying out the plans that would show it’s more than just a campaign-fund conduit…Those plans would cost about $1 million a year, the group said in court documents filed last week. They include the talk radio show, investigative reporting on “limited government and property rights issues,” gathering information on “abuses of eminent-domain and private-property rights” in Montana, and comparing the cost of government services to private-sector providers.

Great! Sounds like someone’s got a lot of interesting ideas. There’s always more room in Montana politics for opposing viewpoints. However, if these are truly worthwile political projects then Butcher should have no problems disclosing who’s funding them. His “talk radio” should be no different than that found on any Clear Channel station. After all, commercial and public radio proudly play their sponsors’ ads. Why shouldn’t Trevis Butcher? Don’t Montanans have a right to know who’s funding their favorite program on KGVO and trying to influence their vote?

Meanwhile, perhaps our legislators should look at amending the campaign finance laws in the Montana Code during the next session to include…let’s see…groups with “educational and political purposes”. Or maybe they should just cut to the chase and simply insert the words “Howie Rich“.

by Jay Stevens

So far and so good: nothing unusual or unexpected has yet occurred in the special session of the legislature. It looks like the education bill will leave the Senate tonight for the House tomorrow – where it’s likely some sparks will fly. The budget bill is still being hashed out.

Matt Gouras filed a story about this morning’s Republican caucus, in which Scott Sales confronted his mutiny:

House Speaker Scott Sales, R-Bozeman, called a meeting of House Republicans and told them he was not in on the compromise, didn’t authorize members of the caucus to cut a deal and won’t support it.

A Republican moderate then stood up in front of his GOP colleagues, many of whom didn’t look pleased, and explained why he has decided to go along with a package being put together by Schweitzer’s office.

“This common ground is something I can accept,” said Rep. Llew Jones, R-Conrad. “Is this common ground acceptable to everyone? I don’t know.”


Jones, in talking about his decision to be among the dozen or so Republicans who took it upon themselves to negotiate with the governor, said he believes “folks on the extremes are part of the problem, not part of the solution.”


Right afterward, conservative Republican Rep. Ed Butcher of Winifred, stood up to take issue with the package.

He said Republicans supporting it are “rolling over to give the governor what he wants.”


Sales told the House Republicans at their meeting that he would not tell anyone how to vote over the next three days of the special session.

“You are accountable to yourselves,” Sales said.

Me? I’m just glad some Republican moderates stepped up and made the deal, putting the interest of their state over their political party.

by Jay Stevens

It looks like the legislative break is coming just in time: tempers flared in the Montana House Tuesday, as Ed Butcher dismissed Democratic remarks as “nonsense,” and House Democrats asked the body to censure Butcher.

Butcher’s no sweetheart, that’s for sure. This wasn’t his first unthinking comment he’s made:

Earlier this session, Butcher apologized on the House floor for making what some called insensitive remarks about American Indians before a committee meeting. He also drew criticism in 2001 for calling American Indian reservations “ghettos,” and he publicly apologized in 2004 after referring to severely developmentally disabled students as “vegetables” at an education meeting.

Parker said Butcher has also made “derogatory comments” toward other lawmakers on the House floor within the past week.

“(Butcher’s) antics have become so time-consuming that they have distracted the House of Representatives from its rightful business, becoming a real waste of taxpayer expense,” Parker said.

The dispute arose over Koopman’s utterly meaningless “Liberty Day” bill, which would be a day “to celebrate the inalienable rights and cherished liberties that we all enjoy as Americans.” The flap arose when an amendment was proposed to replace “inalienable” with “God-given.”

[The] amendment, which later failed…drew opposition from several Democrats, including Franklin, who warned against using language that suggests elected officials have a direct connection with God.

Butcher called the gist of Franklin’s comments “nonsense.” He later said he was sorry that Franklin had taken his remarks personally but insisted he had nothing to atone for.

“When somebody defames the foundations of our country by distorting history, I am sorry, but (criticizing) that is not something to apologize for,” Butcher said. “It was not a personal comment on the individual. It was the general gist of that pattern of thought.”

Amen, Butcher. Which is why repeated attempts to inject Christianity into the government irks me so.

All in all, a silly little squabble. Butcher is a boor, and Democrats should not take his blathering personally.

Also, I think “Liberty Day” is a joke, and Senate Dems should quash it. If you need to proclaim a day of liberty in America, it means we’re in big trouble. I think every damn day is “Liberty Day,” and we should all exercise our liberties as often as possible – which is why I blog, after all. (Even if folks like Corey Stapleton try to intimidate me into silence.)

So join me in celebrating our liberty by calling Butcher a boor, and letting the world know Koopman is wasting taxpayer money and valuable legislative time with his empty bills.

by Jay Stevens 

Look who’s proposing legislation to overhaul the initiative process: old friends Ed and Trevis Butcher!

Trevis, of course, was the Montana money handler for Howie Rich’s terrible trio of initiatives: 154, 97, and 98. Trevis is also a good pal of the Republican Liberty Caucus sweethearts. The initiatives were, of course, struck down for the pervasive fraud found to mar the signature gathering.

Representative Ed Butcher (R-Winifred) is Trevis’ daddy.

The Butcher Bill (HB 777) — one of the worst-written bills I’ve seen, BTW – allows grievances to bypass many of the offices Howie Rich’s bills got caught up in (such as the Attorney General’s office or the district courts). The bill also targets volunteer signature gathers to extra scrutiny (in one line, considering a volunteer’s work to be a “campaign contribution”). (And in one section hints that blog entries on behalf of candidates could be considered “campaign contributions”!)

Basically the bill does two things: it makes it easier to challenge a petition, but almost impossible to get it off the ballot. And it seeks to exclude or punish all those who either opposed or worked against Rich’s initiatives.

The good news is that this bill probably isn’t leaving committee:

A proposal to overhaul the state’s ballot initiative process didn’t excite much interest on the part of the House State Administration Committee on Thursday morning.

Committee members had no questions for Rep. Ed Butcher, R-Winifred, the sponsor of House Bill 777, and the only comments from committee Chairman Dennis Himmelberger, R-Billings, were to urge Butcher, several times, to be more concise.

And the only people who spoke in support of the bill were Butcher’s son, conservative activist Trevis Butcher of Winifred, and Helena attorney Chris Gallus.

And better yet, there is a bipartisan bill that’s more likely to see its way past the legislature that would make good and needed change to the initiative process:

Six people spoke against the bill, led off by Assistant Attorney General Pam Bucy, who said the legislation was rife with problematic language and legal pitfalls. She, and most of the other opponents, urged the committee to give its support instead to Senate Bill 96, which was drafted with the concurrence of the Justice Department and the secretary of state.

SB96, introduced by Sen. Carol Williams, D-Missoula, would prohibit paying signature-gatherers on a per-signature basis and would require the gatherers to be residents of Montana. The bill would also seek to simplify and streamline other aspects of the initiative process.

A member of the House State Administration Committee, Rep. Alan Olson, R-Roundup, intends to sponsor Williams’ bill in the House.

In other words, good stuff. A bill that, in a reasonable world, would be passed without much of a fuss. But then, this year in the House, all bets are off.

by Jay Stevens 

You may have seen the news: Rep. Ed Butcher (R-Winifred) made some inappropriate remarks in the legislature this week:

Republican Rep. Ed Butcher said he meant nothing derogatory when he referred to Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder and a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, as “Chief Windy Boy” before a House Agriculture Committee meeting Thursday. Butcher also later asked Windy Boy whether his large gavel qualified as a “war club.”

“The whole thing is absolutely absurd,” said Butcher, who also was criticized in 2001 for calling American Indian reservations “ghettos” and apologized in 2004 for referring to severely developmentally disabled students as “vegetables” at an education meeting.


Apologies were made, and it appears that the Winifred Representative is a moron, good for a snark or two.

And just when we think it’s over, we get stunts like this, where Butcher’s racist and ignorant remarks are contrasted with the left blogosphere’s dubbing of loose cannon and House Speaker, Scott Sales, “sideshow.”

There is a little something I would like to point out though. There are a number of blogs in Montana that refer to the Montana Speaker of the House Rep. Scott Sales, in a derogatory, name calling manner and they think that is fine and dandy while disparaging Ed Butcher for his name calling. I know, they will defend themselves by saying Rep. Ed Butcher’s comment is racist and theirs isn’t. I will admit that is true but name calling is not necessary. They should be able to get their point across without the use of prejudicial names if the point they are trying to make is strong enough.

You know, this type of thinking drives me crazy. How in the world could anyone compare calling Sales “sideshow” with Butcher’s remarks? It boggles the mind.

Yes, calling Scott Sales is juvenile, belittles the most powerful political member of the state’s lower legislative body, does not foster a climate of dialog and bipartisanship, etc & co, but — in my opinion — Sales has earned his nickname. In other words, Sales is “Sideshow,” not because he was born with an extra head or any other such accident of birth. No, Sales is a “sideshow” because of the things he’s said or done.

To compare “Sideshow” to Butcher’s remarks is…well…insulting. Butcher spoke from ignorance and made demeaning remarks based on Windy Boy’s race. It’s the worst form of thinking, really, to generalize character based on a person’s appearance or background, things they have no control over. It’s narrow-minded and lazy, at best.

It’d be bad enough were Butcher a blogger. But he’s a representative of Winifred’s citizens serving in the state legislature. His words and actions reflect on his constituents. When he says dumb things he makes all of Winifred look dumb. Besides displaying the lowest form of thinking, he’s also supposed to be more respectful of his fellow legislators than some partisan hack.

Ultimately, Sarpy Sam’s defense of Ed Butcher by saying, “well, golly, look at what the left bloggers are saying,” is absolutely, one-hundred-percent utter bullsh*t.

It’s a far too typical knee-jerk reaction when folks are called out for our worst impulses. It’s not honest. It’s — wait, what’s that term right-wing Christians invariably trot out? — moral relativism, at its worst.

You think an earned nickname should be held to the same standard as racism?

 (For more reasonable criticism of left blogosphere’s rants against Scott Sales, see Mike’s post on “Legislative Demonizing.” Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias counter the crit against left blogo tone, and Drum argues that bloggers should be considered “salty” or “colorful,” not hysterical or vulgar.)

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