Archive for the ‘Michael Lange’ Category

by Jay Stevens

Oops!

The House adjourned after passing its tax and budget bills without waiting around to see if the Senate will pass them. If the Senate rejects any of the bills, the Governor will have to call another special session…

As ID’s Jason says, “I am beginning to think that Mr. Sales really just doesn’t get how the Montana Legislative system works.”

The first casualty in the brouhaha is now former House majority leader, Michael Lange, who was stripped of his position, largely over his obscenity-laden tirade.

A couple of things. First, I told you so!

Second, I actually feel bad for the guy. Apparently having learned his lesson from the fallout of the angry rant, he was one of the 13 House Republicans to reach out to the Good Guv and rescue the state’s budget.

I suspect there will be other casualties from the 2007 legislative session. I suspect we won’t ever see another Sales Speakership, for one. Or another Constitution party member in the body (Jore terms out after this session). Or Sinrud given the reigns of the Appropriations Committee.

Whether Schweitzer has suffered any damage this session remains to be seen, but despite some institutional criticism in the papers, some critics in the blogosphere (myself included), and general disgruntlement in political circles, I suspect it may be Schweitzer who may emerge from this session as the “winner.” Certainly it could be – and likely will be – spun that Schweitzer stepped in and saved the day.

Update: It’s over

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by Jay Stevens

There’s a nice story in today’s Gazette on how 13 Republican legislators met over last weekend with members of Governor Schweitzer’s staff to come with a broad agreement on spending and taxation for the legislative special session.

First, the thirteen. Revile or praise them, as is your wont:

–Llew Jones (Conrad)
–Alan Olson (Roundup)
–Michael Lange (Billings)
–John Ward (Billings)
–Edith Clark (Sweetgrass)
–Tom McGillvray (Billings)
–Elsie Arntzen (Billings)
–Gary Maclaren (Victor)
–Wayne Stahl (Saco)
–Jesse O’Hara (Great Falls)
–Carol Lambert (Broadus)
–Bill Nooney (Missoula)
–Walter McNutt (Sidney)

Nooney, for one, had to know his voting record this legislative session won’t play well in this town, even in the conservative neck of Missoula he represents. That’s the downside of marching lockstep with your caucus, especially if it’s on the extremist side. No doubt he’s anticipating a reelection battle; compromise now will help him appear to be a moderate.

Then there’s this little nugget:

Conspicuously absent was House Speaker Scott Sales, the highest-ranking Republican in the House.

Sales said later he wasn’t invited. Those at the meeting said they wanted people there who were willing to negotiate. Sales, an outspoken conservative, has been adamant in his call for deeper spending reductions and longer-term tax cuts.

Even his own party views him as an obstructionist.

There was some talk to rehabilitate Sales’ image – Lange, notably, said that Sales intransigence gave the 13 Mutineers some advantage in their negotiations with the Good Guv’s people. In other words, the GOP went along with obstructionism and helped scuttled the general session for…a bargaining chip?

I know how much the Speaker enjoys his manly war analogies, so I’ll offer this one up: when you surrender, you offer up your sword with the hilt given to you enemy. Don’t stick him with the point.

by Jay Stevens

We got ourselves a humdinger this legislative session.

Governor Schweitzer called the special session of the Legislature this weekend – starting Thursday — and has declared it will meet for three days, through Saturday.

Here’s what we know from the news reports. Schweitzer and his administration have met with “a dozen Republican legislators,” including House Majority Leader Mike Lange. Apparently the Governor and the rogue Republicans have struck some sort of deal.

My thoughts, and things to look for:

— It appears that John Sinrud, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and Scott Sales, Speaker of the House, were excluded from the deal.

That’s huge, and means that the Governor has to line up more than just a couple of Republicans to his tax and budget plans. Sinrud can table any appropriations bill – such as, say, a budget bill – that passes through his committee. Sales can tweak procedures to sit on bills. He can use “pocket vetos” – simply putting passed bills into a desk drawer or refuse to sign them. Both men have this past legislative session used those procedural tactics to deal with legislation or legislators they don’t like. (Yes, a lot of bills vanished.)

In order to bypass these procedural difficulties, the Governor needs 60 House votes to “blast” bills out of committee. That means he needs at least eleven Republicans to vote with a unified Democratic bloc to get bills past the Sales/Sinrud bottleneck.

— If Schweitzer does have his “dozen” Republican legislators, we’ll see some internecine sparks fly on the House floor. Maybe even more angry speeches from Sales again questioning the morality of his opponents and no doubt some of his one-time allies.

If Schweitzer does have his “dirty dozen,” then we may be witnessing the beginning of an internal struggle for the Republican party. Scott Sales won the House speakership over the more moderate wing of his party by a single vote; is this the first sign of a moderate versus radical struggle in Republican electoral politics, we’ll see intensify in 2008? Are state party leaders and donors pulling the party back to the center?

— Schweitzer’s plans and call for a special session caught the Democratic leadership completely off guard.

That doesn’t bode well for some of his pet projects, notably the “green” energy bill he tried to pawn off on the Legislature this session. A complete mess, possibly illegal as it’s written, only one Democrat voted against it the last time around – Jim Elliot, a Senator who’s facing term limits, and who had nothing to lose politically by opposing the Governor. You can bet more Democrats step up against this dog when the bill threatens to become reality. Does the Governor have enough Republican votes to overturn his own party’s defection on questionable legislation?

— Right now, this is the Governor’s game. By most accounts, his leadership – or lack of it – was a major reason why the 2007 Legislature’s regular session failed so spectacularly. (The other major contributor, of course, was demagoguery from the House leadership.)

 I’m really beginning to hear a lot of negative comments about the Governor’s communication style, and a lot of internal, muffled disgruntlement with policies and politeness stemming out of Helena.

The bottom line is this: if Schweitzer pulls this special session off – and there’s a lot of reasons why this session could crash and burn – it’ll be a major political coup for the Governor. If so, it’ll be seen as a validation for Schweitzer’s diplomacy and policy-making. That’s not a good thing, but I’ll take it if it comes with a budget and the public humiliation of right-wing extremists Sales and Sinrud.

(I know the Good Guv reads the blogs, so let me make a personal appeal: a crash is coming. Poor policy and poor manners will catch up to you. It may not happen now, it may not happen before your re-election; but if you’re thinking bigger and beyond, you need energy policy that’s well written and effective. And you need friends.)

So there’s my views on the special session. Your thoughts?

by Jay Stevens

Everybody’s angry that the Legislature adjourned without a budget. Partisan gridlock is to blame, they say, Democrats, Republicans, ptui! They’re all the same!

Yeah? Read over the transcript from Scott Sales speech after the Legislature adjourned:

…we’ve met a brick at every stage of the way. There was absolutely no compromise with the Democrats. They wanted to spend it all, and then some. We took the historic step of breaking the budget into eight…er…initially six bills became eight…we did it for one reason, and one reason only: we wanted to bring forward a sustainable, accountable budget for the people of Montana, so that we could then offer the tax, uh, tax cuts that they deserve!…and we received not one bit of help from the Democrats. In unison on 49 votes, they fought us tooth and nail and refused to participate in the budgeting process.

The bills went over to the Senate, and they blew the budget up way beyond the subcommittee work…I believe about a hundred seventy-five million, if the — correct me if I’m wrong – about 27 million above the Governor’s budget…they were horribly irresponsible! They spent money that…uh…uh…nobody could even imagine! I think it was obscene and immoral how they bloated that budget up. Without giving any concern to the taxpayers of Montana again!

Um, it’s unfortunate the way this thing turned out. We came in here this morning, and…uh…what the intention and every, uh, uh, effort, to try to come some sort of resolve with the Democrats, and come up with a sustainable, accountable budget and tax relief, and in fact, a couple of our guys – Representative Lange and Representative Glazier – were in the midst of a negotiation with the Senate to provide some sort of tax relief, and they were called out of that meeting, it was adjourned abruptly so they could sine die and run away.

Now yesterday…we have repeatedly made offers to the Governor and to the Senate, ah, what we wanted to get accomplished. Uh, yesterday we got an ultimatum from the Democrats, I don’t know if anybody brought it here, but I’d sure like the press to get it in their hands. Basically it was an ultimatum, you do it our way or the highway. They demanded unilateral surrender from us yesterday, if we wanted to adjourn. Um, we held firm, on the belief that the money belongs to the people, we turned down that offer, and they decided to unilaterally surrender against us.

And somehow we’re to blame. Somehow we’re to blame because we are fighting for the citizens and hardworking people of Montana.

I disagree. I think we’re very unified in this. I hope when we come back in the next session the Governor is willing to work with us. He’s called, I’m sure he’ll call a special session. And when he does I hope he decides to attend that one instead of being gone, like he was so much of this one. And, uh, that’s my challenge to the Governor. If you’re going to call a special session, please attend it. And please come to the bargaining table with House leadership, so we can work out a compromise.

It’s all the Democrats’ fault, they’re immoral and obscene, they refused to compromise, and by golly! The House Republicans preserved their collective manhood by standing firm and forced the opposition to “unilaterally surrender”!

The Democrats offered a tax rebate, and even increased the amount of the rebate after complaints from the Republicans.

The Governor did try to compromise, but was told to “stick it in his *ss.”

While manly Scott Sales “held firm” in the name of saving Montana taxpayers money, he’s also sticking us with $38K a day for the costs of the special session.

Honestly, could you think of a more acerbic, more confrontational speech on exit from a confrontational legislative session, which nearly every Montanan has decried as being too acerbic and confrontational?

No wonder Republican Senator John Cobb had public thoughts about the House leadership:

[House Appropriations Committee chair John] Sinrud continued to cut off comments by [Rep. Eve] Franklin and other Democrats. During a brief recess, Cobb stalked from the room after telling committee member Dave Kasten, R-Brockway, that the Republicans on the committee were “a bunch of idiots.”

“They’re using the rules to abuse people,” said Cobb during the break. “They think they can bully the governor. It’s no different than what goes on in a Third World country.”

If this is the kind of thing Republicans are saying in public, what are they saying behind closed doors?

Let’s hope they’re discussing a change in leadership. Because right now it seems likely as long as Sinrud, Lange, and Sales are in charge, the acrimony will not subside.

by Jay Stevens

This is one of those “I heard it from a friend, who has a friend…” rumors, so it could be completely without merit…but, I heard that the state’s GOP leaders are mighty displeased with Mike Lange’s recent public outburst, and are considering organizing his ouster.

It’s a rumor. I’ve no proof. I’ve no evidence.

But it sure makes a lot of sense! Pretty much everyone in the state is ticked off at the Legislature for failing the one thing they’re mandated to do by the state’s constitution: provide the state a budget for the next two years.

Newspapers, pundits, and bloggers alike have made every effort to include the Governor and the Democratic lawmakers in the list of blame for the legislative mess, but every list ends with Mike Lange’s obscentiy-laden tirade not long after being offered a compromise by Schweitzer.

Lange’s “shove it up your *ss” is the last taste on the tongue for the legislative session. It’s the one moment Montana is guaranteed to remember until November 2008.

And the video of the rant has circulated far and wide, so much so, that Lange is probably now the most recognized Republican officeholder in Montana. (Apologies to Dennis Rehberg, but you don’t want that kind of publicity.)

So even if this rumor isn’t true…it should be.

by Jay Stevens

As you’ve probably no doubt seen, there’s video of the Mike Lange outburst! What struck me about watching it – and what wasn’t evident from the original reports on Lange’s rant – was that the profanity came in the midst of a speech on the “honor,” “integrity,” and “dignity” of the House Republican caucus!

It only gets worse, of course. Here’s the transcript of a CBS interview with Lange:

Lange: Everything I said in there is exactly what I mean, it’s exactly what I stand on, and I’m not budging off one comment of it, not one word of it. I meant the truth, and that’s not showmanship, that’s called dignity and honor.

Florio: Telling someone to stick it up his ass is called “dignity” and “honor”?

Lange: In the real world, you bet it is. When the shoe fits, wear it. I gotta go back to work, thanks.

And with that quip, the House Majority leader scuttled offstage.

The “real world”?

In the real world, what we’re seeing could be the result of term limits. Simply put, House Republicans are too inexperienced. They don’t understand the process. (Of course that doesn’t explain why House Democrats aren’t exhibiting the same childishness.)

The Governor is the big winner in all of this. In a nice summation of the situation the Legislature finds itself — and sadly a few days too late – George Ochenski prophetically predicted such a car crash might happen:

Montanans had best brace themselves for the end of what is undoubtedly one of the worst legislative sessions in the state’s recent history….But how could we possibly know with no end in sight to the bitter partisan squabbling that turned a deliberative policymaking institution into a locker-room brawl between opposing teams? No matter. One way or another the blame game is about to start big time—and with it will come a political spin cycle that promises to be dizzying.

Ochenski had hard words for all of the players – accusing the Governor specifically of skipping out when he was needed most, of failing to meet and talk with Republican leaders.

But this incident gave his supporters plenty of ammunition. After all, Lange’s tirade happened after Schweitzer tried to hammer out some compromise on key bills. Lange has made it questionable whether House Republicans are capable of discussion, let alone compromise!

But is that a surprise from lawmakers whose supporters say things like this?

“Mike Lange is the only House Republican majority leader we have…” –What’s this “we” stuff? You’re pretending Mike Lange represents you? Whatever you are trying to insinuate, he belongs to my party and not yours, and I am damn proud of him for calling a spade a spade.

And you wonder why Republicans at the state and federal levels have pursued policies that have divided the nation?

The Governor, of course, has played the situation like a fiddle. Check out this response to Lange’s apology:

“I said to Mike Lange, ‘We should never take the measure of a man at his weakest moment,’” the governor said. “I tried to comfort him. I think I gave him some comfort.”

In short, Lange’s outburst has backed the Montana GOP into a corner. If they don’t compromise, and the session runs for weeks during the summer, and there’s a state government shutdown, the video evidence makes it clear who’ll take the fall. If the House Republicans do bend on their demands, then Lange will have violated his own back-alley “principles.” It’ll be a self-defined sign of legislative “weakness.”

And regardless of the outcome of this legislative session, this video clip has iced whatever chance Lange had at a federal-level job. As a Senate candidate, Lange will offer Baucus as much challenge as his upcoming primary contender – i.e., none — promises to be. As a gubernatorial candidate…well…Lange’s already been upstaged and out-maneuvered by the Democratic candidate. It’s not easy to unseat a man who publicly sympathizes with you for your bungling.

But worse still – at least for the Montana GOP – is that Lange promises to become a national laughingstock. Can you imagine how the NRSCC, NCCC, and RNC feel about this clip?

Also, from around the blogosphere, condemnation is near universal.

Montana Headlines doesn’t write much, but you can almost hear his forehead hit the keyboard as the House Republicans continue to ignore his excellent advice.

Sarpy Sam:

Common courtesy and decency are obviously a dying commodity. What I can’t figure out is how the party of “family values” thinks such profanity and vitriol upholds their party standards?

The Montana Misanthrope:

Like it or not, sir, you are in the minority. You can throw a tantrum, point an accusing finger, and hyperventilate all you want, but doing so will not move an agenda, and it does not serve the interests of this state or your party. And just so you know, the former is more important than the latter, because it is apparent that you don’t grasp that.

TMM also finds Lange’s outburst typical of the state’s Republicans and, as a conservative, worries about the party’s future.

Ed Kemmeck probably summed it up best (and his post is worthy of a full read):

…if you haven’t watched the video of Lange’s speech, which is attached to the first two stories mentioned above, do. It shows Lange apparently getting a little teary-eyed toward the end of his tirade, and saying to his colleagues, “You’re ladies and gentlemen with honor and integrity” — and saying it without a hint of irony! He also tells them he would be willing “to go off a cliff with you.” That could prove to be a prophetic remark, as that seems to be exactly where Lange is leading them.

Oh, and that was the reaction from the state’s conservative and independent blogs…

by Jay Stevens

Remember way back when there was a little debate about civility here in the Montana blogosphere? You remember! First there was criticism of the left bloggers’ use of a nickname for the Montana Legislature’s Speaker of the House, in which our antics were compared to racism. Apparently our constant mocking of Sales irked some, despite the Speaker’s bitter partisan rhetoric and promises to obstruct this year’s session. (If nothing else, he at least follows through on his promises, eh?)

And then came Corey Stapleton’s criticism of the blogs, calling us “angry, unaccountable, anonymous media.” Ignoring for a moment how untrue those characterizations are – are any of us left bloggers anonymous or free from libel laws? – and ignoring that Stapleton’s attack was a smoke screen for his racist remarks – the lawmaker’s remarks dislodged some self-introspection from bloggers. We abandoned the nicknames, this blog dropped its “creep” category, and a modicum of civility descended.

And now comes this expletive-laden rant from House Majority Leader Michael Lange, in which he tells Governor Schweitzer to use his ambition as an anal suppository, implies the Governor’s mother is a dog, refuses to offer feces to the Governor, implied the Governor offered Lange financial compensation for his intent to engage in sexual congress with the citizens of Montana, and frequently mentions his urine – all in terms a bit more vulgar, of course. The scene was the Republican Caucus, and Lange’s vituperative obscenities were roundly applauded by House Republicans, who chanted “Stay till May! Stay till May!”

The odd thing is that this outburst came in reaction to Schweitzer’s offer of compromise on some of the spending and tax bills that has bogged down the Legislature:

At the caucus, Lange said Schweitzer asked him at an early morning meeting if he would vote for House Bill 833, a 14-bill Democratic omnibus tax relief and loophole-closing package, in exchange for Democrats supporting a version of Lange’s House Bill 678, a school funding and property tax relief plan.

Such horse-trading over bills is commonplace during the closing days of any Legislature.

“The governor can go straight to h*ll as far as I’m concerned for trying to do that,” Lange told his caucus.

It’s not surprising that this outburst had provoked responses from leftys — we’ve been pointing at the House Republicans’ angry and divisive rhetoric since day one – but it should alarm the state GOP that Lange’s puerile grandstanding has upset some Republican lawmakers, not to mention rightys, like Jack the Blogger:

Is this another embarrassing and political harmful moment for the Republicans? Yes.

My Mom and Dad always said that, “Cursing at someone and calling people names make you sound really stupid and uneducated.”

You know, Mom and Dad were right and this was a classic example.

Apparently, some of Lange’s followers in the caucus applauded him for his speech. They’ve surely been locked up in Helena for too long drinking the partisan Kool-Aid and have lost touch with what they were sent there to do.

It was also supposedly caught on tape by a news crew. I smell a campaign commercial!

As The Western Word (TWW) has contended before, this whole session has been nothing but one big three-ring circus (Governor, Senate, House). Montanans are sick of it. Please just go home on Friday. Pick up your toys and go home. Please.

So let’s put this whole blogs-are-angry-and-uncivil thing to a rest, okay? Apparently we’re the most reasonable and civil folks in Montana politics today.

by Jay Stevens

Michael Lange is at it again:

We’ve been nice for weeks,” said House Majority Michael Lange, R-Billings. “Now, we’re not going to be so nice.”

Ed Kemmick:

What does that mean? Is he going to escalate from “hand guns” to using both arms to simulate a Tommy gun? His threat, basically, was that unless the Democratic legislators and Gov. Schweizter follow the Republicans’ lead on tax cuts and education funding, the Republicans will restrict funding increases for all state agencies.

Also yesterday, Lange waxed violent yet again, commenting on the sex-offender bill: “The only place there ought to be reform is at the end of a rope. If that sounds harsh, I don’t care.”

Colby Natale:

I don’t need to point out the specific instances of rancor spouting up in our state government over the past few months, so the notion that such battles have been the ‘nice’ Republicans’ really makes me worry about what the not-so-nice variety looks like.

I don’t know what to add here. Lange and his fellow Montana Republicans came into this legislative session intending to obstruct and bicker. At least, that’s what Scott Sales promised us when he declared war on the Democrats even before the session has started. They’ve delivered on their promise. Now they want to amp up the rancor?
Classy.

by Jay Stevens

Anybody see this article filed by Chuck Johnson about the Budget Follies? “Democrats pressured to revive tax plan”?

Senate Democrats decided to table Michael Lange’s education bill in committee. And Mikey was a tad upset:

Furious after the Senate panel tabled his bill Wednesday, Lange stormed into Democratic leadership offices in both houses and threatened retaliatory action against Democratic bills in the House unless his bill is resurrected.

Senate President Pro Tempore Dan Harrington, D-Butte, said Lange came into his office Wednesday and said, “It’s war. The bloodletting has started.” Witnesses said he formed each hand into a pistol and pretended as if he were firing shots.

Lange said permanent property tax relief is the key issue for Republican legislators, something they promised voters they would provide. He vowed Republicans will do whatever they need to do to make sure it passes, even if it means the House tabling every Democratic bill.

It’s pretty obvious a handful of House Republicans are responsible for the budget mess. The legislature knows it, the media knows it, the voters know it. Scott Sales declared war before the legislature convened; and now Mikey Lange is playing cowboy with our children’s education.

Classy.

by Jay Stevens

The Battle of the Budget has hit a new low. In today’s Gazette it was noted that House Majority Leader Michael Lange is threatening to cut $2 billion in federal aid for Montana in order to cajole radical Constitution Party member Rick Jore into voting for the six – no, eight House Republican budget bills.

That’s right. Two billion dollars.

Where, oh where was would the two billion be cut from?

The $2 billion represents two-thirds of the entire budget for the Department of Public Health and Human Services over the next two years. The federal funds make up large portions of the funding of programs that serve tens of thousands of Montanans. The programs include food stamps, energy assistance, Medicaid, mental health and the Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP.

The poor, the elderly, the children.

Let us contemplate.

First, if Representative Lange had aspirations for Max Baucus’ Senate seat, he may kiss his ambitions good-bye. Frankly, he’ll be lucky if he gets back to the state legislature after this stunt. Remember, the only reason anyone supported Conrad Burns in the 2006 Senate race was that he brought pork to the state. Pork that Representative Lange is threatening to lop off at one stroke.

Second, if passed – and there’s no way in h*ll the cuts would make it through the Senate or past the Governor – the cumulative suffering of seniors, children, and mental health patients would shatter radical conservative rhetoric on limiting government “entitlement” programs for a generation. Montanans are good people, and good people don’t like to see seniors and children suffer.

Third, this is the dumbest stunt I’ve ever seen. As I’ve said before this cut has zero chance to succeed. Frankly, it has zero chance to succeed in the House, unless Republican legislators all vote for it knowing it has no chance in the Senate. And if it passes the House, it will put a permanent black mark on the Montana Republican party. (Think how well energy deregulation went.) It’s obviously a bluff – a bad one, like pretending you have four aces at five-card stud game.

Oh, and the spending bills are proliferating, so now there are eight bills instead of one. How many will there be next week?

Jeff Mangan:

The recent budget controversy is challenging the credibility of that fellowship. The esteemed House is set to allow one person to dictate arguably the most important piece of legislation the House must steward, the State budget bill.
Comments this week from GOP leadership included, (paraphrasing) ‘it will be fixed in the Senate, as it always is’ ‘we just need to move it through the process’. Respectfully, that is not the case. It is not honorable to abrogate your duty. Waiving one’s legislative responsibility is not honorable.

Amen.

While the Democrats are being stubborn on the issue of the bill, the behavior of House Republicans has been disjointed, childish, divisive. They’ve now wasted – how many weeks of the legislative session? When all is said and done, they’ll have to go back to HB 2. The Democratic party has the Senate and the Governorship and the right to frame the debate. The House Republicans, in a political game resembling nothing so much as playing Russian roulette with an automatic, are trying to force their policy on the majority and on the process. The result: a train wreck.

I say, let the Republicans pass their Frankenstein bills tailored to the most radical element of the state’s electorate. They deserve what they will get.

by Jay Stevens

There have been a number of posts written about Montana’s House Republicans splitting up the state budget into six…or possibly seven…more, or less…different bills:

With the legislative session approaching the halfway point, House Republicans released details of the six spending bills to replace the single budget bill they jettisoned last week. The Montana Legislature had used a single budget bill to cover all agencies for the past 30 years.

In addition, the process might not be legal. The GOP’s reaction?

“That’s a lot of hooey,’’ said House Majority Leader Michael Lange, R-Billings. “We’re taking back a process that belongs to the people of Montana, and we’re giving it back to the people of Montana.’’

Sweet. The House Republicans don’t even know, or even care, about the legality of their plan, even though Governor Schweitzer has been thinking about it:

Schweitzer believes the separate bills wouldn’t be true appropriations measures, and so wouldn’t include all the restrictions previous legislatures have put on the governor’s office to control his administrative freedom….

“I could move money from one end of an agency to another,” Schweitzer said of the modified budget bills….

By Schweitzer’s reckoning, the multi-bill budget gives him several other advantages. The state Constitution also requires all bills except the main appropriations measures to have specific titles explaining exactly what they would accomplish. A bill can’t simply be titled “Natural Resources Budget” and inside, send money and priorities to dozens of different departments and projects. The more time wasted under that mistake, Schweitzer said, the less time the multi-bill advocates have to craft a legal substitute for his budget.

Looks like someone has a handle on the legality of the Republicans’ budgetary plans, and it ain’t the Republicans.

Colby thinks that the Republicans are submitting the various bills so that the legislature won’t have time to do anything else. Personally, I think his theory gives the House leaders too much credit for their organizational skills. This smells like a clusterf*ck to me, not a insidious plan to upend the Democrats or progressive legislation.

Shane thinks the House leaders may have some arguable points, but is repelled by their secrecy. While it’s true legislators can now vote on the parts of the budget they like, as GOPers claim, it’s also true that it’s impossible to tell if budget allocation is acceptable unless you can see the bottom line. A tax cut or spending expenditure may sound great, for example, until you realize it puts the state in the red.

That’s basically Matt’s point. Matt also thinks changing the way Montana mulls the budget in mid-session portends disaster.

John Sinrud (R-Bozeman) explained the choice for splitting up the budget thusly:

House Appropriations Chairman John Sinrud, R-Bozeman, said splitting the budget into six or seven independent bills makes Montana more like the federal government.

“Just like in Washington, D.C.,” Sinrud said, “we will have the same clarity.”

In that statement, David Sirota finds all the wrongs of the 2007 House Republicans:

This is what happens when a small handful of wild-eyed lunatics like Sinrud become so partisan and so determined to try to make trouble that they are willing to destroy their own state’s budget system: they offer up rationales for their behavior that actually make their opponents’ points. In this case, we have Republican legislators in a libertarian-leaning state justifying their spastic behavior by saying it’s time we emanate the most corrupt and oblique processes of Washington, D.C.

(I suspect Sirota meant “…emulate the most corrupt and oblique processes…” although there’s a certain poetry in corrupt processes “emanating…”)

I suspect Sinrud’s comment was a mistake, he was probably speaking off the cuff, and that, state-wide, Republicans as one cringed when they read Sinrud’s comments in the newspaper. Which makes the comment all the more disturbing, doesn’t it?

In the end, I think Sirota’s right: it appears that the House is in the hands of unskilled ideologues.

by Jay Stevens

It looks like House Republicans are showing their colors. You’ve heard us rail about it in the blogs, we called the GOP House Speaker “Sideshow” Scott Sales, we mentioned his declaration of “war” on Democrats, we warned that he and his traveling dog and pony act would make the legislature bitter and partisan.

Here we go. When prodded by House Democrats to unveil their budget plans – maybe so as to start preparing negotiations and deals to get something passed – this was the answer:

“What you [Democrat Bill Noonan] are trying to get me to do is tell you what my plans are for managing the House,” Lange responded. “But as the old saying goes: ‘We are managing the House on this side of the aisle.’

“If you think I am going to come to you and ask your advice on managing the House – nice try. Not going to happen.”

Very classy, especially considering that – as the report mentions – any bill that passes the House would likely need some Democrats to sign on, because Rick Jore and a couple other paleo-conservatives are unlikely to support any budget proposal that increases spending.

So much for cooperation and bipartisanship, or working for the best interests of the state. Next thing you know, they’ll stomp their feet and storm off with the House tucked under their arms. “It’s my House, and you can’t play!”

And then there’s Lange on Governor Schweitzer’s recent criticism of Republican legislative stalling tactics:

“Don’t pay attention to that drivel,” he told fellow Republicans. “It’s a sign of weak character.”

Spoken like a true blogger! Too bad he’s a representative of the state of Montana. Ad hominem attacks are popular online, but show poor judgment when uttered as a member of the legislature.

Montana, meet your Republican party!




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