Archive for the ‘Julie French’ 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 jhwygirl

Each morning, we can all get downtown via free shuttle buses being provided by the city for all delegates and press and people in limbo, like me. I still haven’t written about yesterday’s ride – but I thought I might write about today’s.

I mentioned this morning, the delegates are getting pretty comfortable. Some of them are sharing rooms – and it all has the air of a college reunion. Not all are legislatures, so they don’t all work together all the time, but it is clear that they know and like each other quite well.

And No – they aren’t really wearing “regular old t-shirts” – I know I said that earlier – but I certainly don’t want ya’all getting the impression they’re down here on vacation. This stuff really is hard work. There’s important stuff to do for the next 2 1/2 months…and you can tell they mean business.

I didn’t get out of here until about 11 a.m. this morning – which put me on a shuttle with JP Pomnichowski, Michele Reinhart, Julie French and Anthony Jackson.

Anthony is a fine young man from Billings – 26 – who is currently working on Steve Bullock’s race for Attorney General.

Michele is our local HD-97 state house representative – who is running for re-election, BTW. I find her to be very much keyed into understanding the how and why behind things. Hell, I almost feel like she’s interviewing me at times. It’s all good, and I don’t mean that to sound bad – it isn’t. She’s my representative, and she’s very interested in my perspective of things. How could an active voter not like that?

Julie French is really a firecracker. You get the sense, from the get-go, that this is a woman that does not take “no” for an answer. That people – men and women – kinda sit there and nod in agreement when she speaks, and that when she tells you that ‘this is the way this is going to be,’ then, that is the way it is going to be.

I won’t tell you who told me, but I hear they call her Grandma. I assure you, it has nothing to do with her age.

Julie defined what a good legislator is – and she was clear to say that it didn’t matter if it was a city council person, or a state legislator or someone in the federal level. A good legislator is a good listener. “They have to listen to people. They have to want to listen to people,” she said. Julie then cited Jon Tester as an excellent example of someone who exemplifies a good legislator. Continue Reading »




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