Archive for the ‘Jonathan Windy Boy’ Category

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.

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by Jay Stevens 

Jonathan Windy Boy (D-Box Elder) has introduced HB 586, which would reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent from the state’s power plants:

House Bill 586 would require existing fossil-fuel or biomass power plants to reduce mercury emissions by at least 90 percent by Jan. 1, 2010. Plants that had not received a state air-quality permit before the effective date of the legislation would be required to build to that standard.

In the recent hearing on the bill, representatives from the utilities claimed that reaching 90 percent reduction would either be impossible to achieve, or would encourage the use of dirtier coal. (See, the more mercury in your coal, the easier it is to remove 90 percent of it…get it?)

And wouldn’t you know it, but the fight over coal plant mercury emissions standards has an interesting history?

First, according to Senator Patrick Leahy’s website (which is very informative on the issue of mercury emissions):

Coal-fired electric power plants comprise the largest single source [of mercury], producing about one-third of U.S. emissions. Mercury is an impurity in coal, released into the air when the coal is burned. Because coal is cheap and abundant, these power plants enjoy widespread use both domestically and internationally. Most U.S. power plants are exempt from the pollution controls mandated by the Clean Air Act, and power plant mercury emissions are not yet specifically regulated.

Mercury is a dangerous chemical that causes major health problems, especially in fetuses, infants, and children. Even small amounts can inhibit neurological development in children. Unfortunately, because of the unregulated utility emission standards and the increased popularity of coal-burning utilities, the amount of mercury in our environment is growing.

Just before Clinton left office, the EPA proposed a similar 90 percent reduction in coal-burning utility emissions by the end of 2007. The Bush administration quickly amended the Clean Air act, calling for a 70 percent reduction by 2018 in its notorious “Clear Skies” Act of 2003, and allowing for 163 more tons of mercury to be released into the environment by 2020.

Windy Boy’s bill, then, would set the emissions mark back to its 2000 levels.

I haven’t found evidence that proves or disproves the claims that representatives from the energy industry made during the hearing for HB 586, but one thing is certain: their coal-fired plants put upwards of 300,000 children each year at risk.

But don’t hold your breath, folks. This bill doesn’t stand a chance in the Republican-controlled House. Montana’s GOP unabashedly supports big business on just about every issue, even it means endangering the health and well-being of our state’s children.

It’s a shame that this issue isn’t getting the attention it deserves…




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