Archive for the ‘Michele Reinhart’ Category

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.)

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by jhwygirl

In House Local Government committee tomorrow, Rep. Michele Reinhart’s HB455 will be heard at a hearing scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday.

With apologies to the late notice. It was something I had intended to get to sooner.

HB455 is titled The Big Sky Rivers Act, and would protect 9 major rivers and a portion of one, with buffers of streamside areas and protections to riparian habitat immediately adjacent. The bill does so by establishing minimal standards, while authorizing local regulations to be enacted, should local governing authorities choose. It also exempts areas that have sewer or onsite wastewater management facilities, existing structures, and agricultural uses.

The 10 major streams?
Bitterroot River
Blackfoot River
Clark Fork River
Flathead River
Gallatin River
Jefferson River
Madison River
Missouri River from its headwaters near Three Forks to the line between Cascade and Choteau Counties
Smith River, and
Yellowstone River from the Montana-Wyoming border to the line between Treasure and Rosebud Counties.

I want to remind everyone – things are moving at breakneck speed now. We’re darn near the halfway point – and bills need to be moving. Take this into consideration: Senate Republicans blocked funding for CHIP expansion – approved overwhelmingly by Montana voters this past election – after just slightly more than an approval in the House of HB157 (which, to note, had bipartisan support).

Apparently, voters didn’t know what they were doing.

But I digress….

Please take the time tonight to contact members of the House Local Government committee and them know that Montana is Nothing Without Its Rivers. Let them know that protecting our rivers means protecting the riparian areas adjacent. Protecting our rivers means protecting them from excessive nitrates and nutrient flow from septic intrusion into the water table. Now is the time….because, as I say: Time’s a’wastin’.

Elsie Arntzen emarntzen@excite.com (Chair of the House Local Government Committee)
Betsy Hands (D) (Vice Chair) betsyhands@gmail.com
Gary MacLaren (Vice Chair) garymaclaren@yahoo.com
Arlene Becker arlene_becker@bresnan.net
Gerals Bennett jbenhd1@hotmail.com
Tom Berry tom@tomberrymt.com
Robyn Driscoll rdriscoll@peoplepc.com
Bob Ebinger buffalojump@imt.net
Wanda Grinde wsgrinde@aol.com
Robin Hamilton robinlhamilton@bresnan.net
Pat Ingraham pathd13@blackfoot.net
Mike Menahan mike@mikemenahan.com
Michael More mp_more@yahoo.com
Scott Reichner sreichner@centurytel.net
Michele Reinhart michelereinhart@gmail.com
Diane Sands hdsands@aol.com
Wayne Stahl wstahl@nemontel.net
Gordon Vance vancehd67@gmail.com

You can also call the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for the entire legislative committee. Make sure to mention the bill, by number (HB455). 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.

For more on this important legislation, head on over to Button Valley.

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 Pete Talbot

Dear President-elect Obama,

I’m sorry we couldn’t deliver our three electoral votes to you. You worked hard for them. You visited the state and talked western policy. You set up offices and hired staff and had the best ground game I’ve ever seen. John McCain never set foot in Montana.

You came close — only 12,136 votes separated you from McCain. And compared to the 20-point win that George W. Bush had here four years ago, what you did was miraculous.

I’m still scratching my head, though. In almost every other statewide category, Montana went blue: senator, governor and all four tier b’s (unseating the sole Republican incumbent with a new secretary of state). And two-out-of-three newly-elected PSC commissioners are Democrats.

Another confusing example is Gallatin County. I hoped for better numbers from there. It did, after all, almost go for Sen. Tester in 2006 (Burns won by less than 200 votes). But this year, Obama goes down by over 1400. Perhaps Barack should work on a flattop haircut for 2012. Even Gallatin County voted for you, by a 1609 vote margin.

I don’t believe race was a factor. I think most Montanans who voted for McCain did so because of issues like taxes or defense or the “experience” card or some ingrained conservative Christian belief.

And guns played a role. Even though you came to Montana and assured us you wouldn’t take away our guns, ugly rumors persisted. Next time through, make sure to get that ubiquitous firearm photo op.

We wish you well, Mr. President, and may you bring people together to help solve the numerous problems facing our country. Godspeed.

An unpleasant aside

After saying race wasn’t a factor, well, you still run into this: On my way to Bozeman on election day, I stopped by the Cardwell Store, there between Whitehall and Three Forks, for a cup of coffee and a Slim Jim. Two good-old-boys were at the counter and one said, “I better go vote.” To which the other said, “Yeah, I’d hate to see this election get nigger-rigged.”

I’m not even sure what he meant but I left my merchandise on the counter and walked out. Came up with some really choice things I should have said about five miles down the road.

Now I’m sure that everyone in Cardwell isn’t an ignorant racist pig but I won’t be stopping by again, ever, to find out.

It’s a sad anecdote, but there’s one good thing about it; the guy was old and will soon be dead.

I love Missoula

On a more upbeat note: Missoula delivers. One or two flies in the ointment: that HD-100 race where Willis Curdy is losing by a measly 33 votes to Republican incumbent Bill Nooney (provisional votes still being counted, final results Monday). But that’s democracy; you can choose the anti-education, anti-senior, anti-young person, anti-environment candidate if you want.

Same with SD-7, which has a little bit of Missoula County in it and where veteran lawmaker Paul Clark lost to anti-government zealot Greg Hinkle.

Otherwise it was a sweep: Gutsche over Mood for the PSC, the improbable county commissioner outcome, nine-out-of-ten state reps, and two state senators.

The Emergency Operations Center Bond going down wasn’t really a surprise. With property taxes in the mail and it being a slow economy and all, folks are tightening their belts. In better times, I think it would have passed. It also wasn’t one of the strongest campaigns I’ve seen run in this town.

Ravalli County blues

Is it too harsh to recommend a toll booth at the Ravalli/Missoula County line? Those Bitterrooters should pay extra to come and visit an eclectic town that values education and planning. Maybe we could funnel the toll revenue into preserving Ravalli County open space, while there’s still some left.

I know that there are progressives in Ravalli County but time-and-time again their issues and candidates get hammered.

Both West Fork Blues and Rebecca have excellent comments on the results in the Bitterroot.

Statewide conundrum

Despite Democratic wins in most of the big-ticket races, the Montana House is tied and the senate losses seats (R’s 27-D’s 23). Throw in a Democratic governor and I smell gridlock. But maybe not, lots of talk from candidates of all stripes wanting to “reach across the aisle.” We’ll see.

I, like Jay and others, have to wonder about this split ticket voting. How can our Democratic governor win by an almost two-to-one margin and still have the Montana Senate lose its Democratic majority? Did the Republican Party focus on legislative races because it knew most of the others were hopeless? Any insights?

We’re a two party country

Third parties didn’t fare well. Libertarian Don Eisenmenger received about 7 percent in the OPI race, which I believe was the party’s best showing. Presidential candidate Bob Barr got 0.3 percent. In the U.S. House race, perennial candidate Mike Fellows got 3 percent, and Stan Jones got 2 percent in the governor’s race.

For Constitution Party candidates, Ron Paul got slightly over 2 percent in the presidential race. That party’s best showing was in Missoula County with Kandi Matthew-Jenkins getting a little better than one-third of the votes against Cliff Larson in SD 50 (there was no Republican in that contest). And in the SOS race, Sieglinde Sharbono received around 3.5 percent.

Nadar’s Independent ticket garnered slightly less than 1 percent.

And finally

Who ever thought we’d have a president with a name like Barack Obama? It pales in comparison, though, to the candidate from HD-15 — my favorite name on the ballot — Frosty Boss Calf Ribs. I’ve met some of the Boss Calf Ribs clan up in the Browning area but don’t know Frosty, who was unopposed. Kind of makes our Anglo names like John Smith and Jane Doe seem rather lame. Congratulations, Frosty.

by jhwygirl

Michele Reinhart is the incumbent candidate for HD-97, and has been a strong supporter of many good things, such as defending minimum wage, capping college tuition and going after predatory lenders. She currently serves in the interim Business Affairs Committee, and has been appointed to the very important Business & Labor Committee. She is a very strong advocate for environmental and conservation issues, safe drinking water and clean air, and is a champion for protecting and expanding hunting and fishing access for the public. Michele serves on the House Human Services Committee, where she has supported expanded access to healthcare for children (CHIP), fought hard for better mental health care as well as better access to healthcare services for lower income and disabled persons. She has been endorsed by Montana Conservation Voters.

In other words, Michele Reinhart – in only her freshman year in the legislature – has been a busy busy legislator for us Missoulians, providing us with the best representation in a wide variety of issues, from finance and business to healthcare and the environment. I could go on, really, but I need to get to the point of this post now, don’t I?

But before I do, let’s plug a donation to Michele’s ActBlue page. Elections cost money,and her opponent Carol Minjares has been out knocking doors – perhaps you’ve seen her lovely blue signs around town? – and we need to make sure that Michelle is able to get her name and information out to her voters in HD-97. Seriously, 10 bucks could go a long way.

Before I go on to Michele’s thoughts on the Montana Republican Party’s antics of the last two weeks, disrupting Montana’s election and sending courthouses around the state in to chaos (and extra costs), consider this – Michele’s opponent Carol Minjares has been silent to her party’s acts of voter suppression…which included my vote too, BTW.

From Michelle Reinhart:

The GOP wisely turned tail on its plot to intimidate eligible registered voters by filing indiscriminate challenge lists. That’s a good thing for Montanans but it’s no reason to stop questioning the motives of people who would embark on punishing any voters who filed change-of-address forms with the Post Office.

The list produced by the Montana GOP included friends of mine who moved in the last year and re-registered at their new address. One example that made the papers is former state representative and U.S. Army Lt. Kevin Furey, who was deployed overseas for military duty and forwarded his mail to his parents’ house. And the tactic is not limited to Montana; suppressing votes through spurious challenges continues in other states.

As the GOP’s retreat demonstrates, there was no voter fraud here—just discrimination based on “change of address.” The Republican challenge list sought to obstruct the voting rights of renters, college students, Native Americans, low-income folks, and our men and women in uniform. This challenge tactic is a low-blow directed at democracy, voting rights, and civil rights, harkening back to the darker days of America’s history when political participation was dishonorably denied to people of the “wrong” race, gender or level of wealth.

Trying to block eligible voters from completing their civic duty under a false pretense of voter fraud is shameful. I hope the Montana GOP’s aborted attempt at voter challenges has taught them that Montanans won’t stand for undemocratic tactics and this is the last we’ll see of bad behavior during this fall’s election. I’ll even dare to hope that word gets out to Republican Party operatives in the rest of the country about Montana’s success in stopping voter suppression in its tracks.

At any rate, you can also bet legislation will be introduced during the next legislative session to make sure consequences follow frivolous challenges to voting rights here in Montana.

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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