Archive for the ‘Montana politics’ Category

by jhwygirl

I won’t even give these scums a link – but you can google it and find the new campaign Erik Iverson & Co. have out there attacking Sen. Jon Tester on the basis that he “voted to raise the debt limit 5 times.”

Really?

Under George W. Bush, who was in office from January 2001 until January 2008, the debt limit was increase 7 times.

Guess who was also in office from January 2001 until present?

Now, what that means is that Rehberg voted to increase the debt limit 7 times, but that was all rainbows and purple unicorns because, well, a Republican was president.

And…in case your wondering…McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor? They were all on board too.

So if the horror is supposed to be in the fact that Tester voted to increase the debt limit 5 times – well, Rehberg ups that by 2 and adds in 5 counts of “I’m a partisan hypocrite willing to tank the “good faith and credit of the United States of America” on the unprincipled stance of tea party ideology.

Ultimately, this is what we are going to see for the next year and a half. The Iverson/Rehberg duo don’t have much else. Stand him next to Sen. Jon Tester and they have absolutely nothing. No record, no substance and no resume of accomplishment over the 11 years Rehberg’s been up there. Unbelievably ineffective.

I look downright forward to seeing Denny and Jon debate. Downright forward to it. David and Goliath…and you all know who Goliath is.

Ha.

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By CFS

Twitter and Facebook are increasingly becoming a part of people’s daily life and when it comes to politics, social media is an indispensable tool for organization, spreading information, and connecting people of like-minded attitudes.  But few politicians are actually making good use of these new tools.  Rather sadly, many politicians are using the tools to their own detriment or are simply using them to insulate and shut out criticism.

 

Here in Montana, politicians are beginning their primary pushes which means the long process of building a support network and raising funds, and in today’s age that means using twitter and Facebook to directly connect with as many people across the state as possible.  But so far this cycle our would-be political representatives seem a bit clueless.

Here are my suggestions of how our crop of Montana politicians can use social media effectively:

  1. Engage, engage, engage.  If you are using Twitter as a repository of press release like boring links, don’t even bother… I’m looking your way @DennyRehberg.  Twitter is a continuous conversation, be part of it, open your ears, and actually have a back and forth.
  2. Get rid of the staff.  I know social media can be a time-suck, but it is disingenuous to represent yourself on twitter and have a staff be the one tweeting.  If its overwhelming, have two accounts, one for the campaign run by a staffer, and a personal account that is solely yours.
  3. Don’t mass follow people… it just looks desperate and is akin to what sleazy internet marketers do.  That means you Franke Wilmer, who followed me the other day.  The first politician to seek me out for a follow.  Your followers, whether on Twitter or Facebook should come organically and not be sought after.  If you are a good candidate people will naturally gravitate to you.
  4. Make it personal, but not too personal.  Followers should feel as though they have an in on who you are and what your campaign is about that they can’t get via the television news, blogs, or newspapers.
  5. Google search for James Knox (R) Billings.  Look at his use of social media, then proceed to do the exact opposite.  Threats, crazy assertions, and lying in the social media sphere only get you ridicule and draw people’s attention who then quickly tear your arguments apart and make you look like the fool you are.
  6. Have a filter.  Before you hit that send button, think for a second whether you really want to put what you just typed out their.  As a politician you should realize that many of your followers are probably reporters, bloggers, and political insiders that will make as much noise and trouble for you given any opportunity.
  7. Be creative and witty.  Social media is geared to short bits of information, and to get attention you need to put out creative and authentic updates, being boring will kill you.
  8. Finally, study what people have done right.  For Montana, that means taking a look at how state legislators Ellie Hill, Bryce Bennett, and Mike Miller have used social media, especially during the hectic legislative session.  They were the best source on how things were shaping up at the capital and even during the busiest of times, kept their followers in the loop on legislative developments.  For my money, they are the best examples of politicians using Twitter effectively.

Other than that, good luck to all our candidates, except for Denny Rehberg, may Tester bitch slap you with his two-fingered hand.

For those of you interested in getting more information on our crop of Montana candidates take a look at the list I have compiled below.

Senate:

John Tester (D): Campaign site, @jontester, Facebook
Denny Rehberg (R): Campaign site@Rehberg2012, Facebook

Congress:

Franke Wilmer (D): Campaign site@Franke4Congress, Facebook

Dave Strohmaier (D): Campaign site@DaveForMontana, Facebook

Steve Daines (R): Campaign site@DainesforHouse, Facebook

Kim Gillan (D): Campaign site

Governor:

Rick Hill (R): Campaign site@RickHill2012, Facebook

Ken Miller (R): Campaign site, Facebook

James O’Hara (R): Campaign site, Facebook

by jhwygirl

Word is that Sen. Jeff Essmann is preparing to add his name to the pile – and I do mean pile – of Montana Republicans seeking to the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

His soon-to-be entry brings the number of candidates on the GOP side up to a 6-count: Rick Hill (who will quickly reduced to “Rick who?” after Essmann’s entry); former state senator Ken Miller (going for a second shot after losing to Bob Brown in a 2004 run for the GOP nomination); Cory Stapleton, another former state senator; Neil Livingstone, some sort of national security I-don’t-know-what; and Jim O’Hara, a Choteau County Commissioner.

Essmann’s fame of late is authoring the medical marijuana repeal bill that Governor Schweitzer allowed to lapse into law. He met recently with medical marijuana advocates, and apparently it didn’t go over too well.

Democrats have two declared candidates: Sen. Dave Wanzenried of Missoula and DINO Sen. Larry Jent of Bozeman. Jent was quite the advocate for repeal, and in fact much has been said behind closed doors of his and as-of-yet undeclared Attorney General Steve Bullock involvement in the state-wide raids that still remain without indictment (while leaving behind dozens of damaged commercial properties.)

I’ve got a number of reasons for why I don’t want Bullock to run, but one I’ll put out there is that the AG office is pretty important and Steve has worked towards seeking beneficial solutions for Montana consumers.

Incumbency has advantages and energy and funds should be funneled prudently.

In other words – wait until 2016.

For me, I’m going with Wanzenried. I’ve been a fan for some time. He’s fiscally prudent and practicle. Wanzenried knows how to work across the aisle, and he’s gained a tremendous amount of respect from all sides of everything up there in Helena.

Wanzenried is also one of the hardest-working senators this state has, and his experience on the legislative side could go a long way. One of the larger errors of Schweitzer’s administration is his lack of active productive participation in the legislative process, especially when it starts getting all haywire. This session could have used some guidance instead of showboating – which, while showy and great for the camera really did nothing more than throw more divisiveness into the already toxic mix.

You simply don’t see Wanzenried playing into that. He’ll discuss issues with analysis and a presentation of the issues. That’s the kind of leadership I want to see.

Most recently, Sen. Wanzenried has stepped up front-and-center rallying against HB198, this last session’s abomination “Eminent Domain Bill” which hands private property taking rights to private corporations. Wanzenried’s also successfully pushed through the senate a bill to abolish the death penalty the last two sessions, only to have it die in the House.

In fact, I’m still wanting to write up Wanzenried’s statement on that ugly bill – and I WILL get to it one day. Sen. Wanzenried was the only Senator of the Missoula delegation to vote against HB198. (As for the house delegation, Rep. Ellie Hill was the sole Missoula rep. to maintain a “NO” vote for HB198.)

Want to get an idea of the name recognition and early polling on Montana’s 2012 election? Jack the Blogger over at Western World has some stats on the 2012 races in a post from back in February.

Footnote: When is the SOS going to update for the 2012 election? The list of candidates is still from the 2010.The SOS office can’t register candidates until January 1st, which answers my question.

Sen. Jon Tester supports anti-immigrant policies and impedes immigration reform.

A guest post by Helena Immigration Attorney, Shahid Haque-Hausrath, posted by Jamee Greer

Jon Tester (D-MT) is facing a tough run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, but he just keeps giving progressives more reasons not to vote for him. His track record on immigration issues has been abysmal, as I’ve written about before. Make no mistake about it — Tester is probably the worst Democrat in the Senate on the issue of immigration, and he is one of the most vocal. The way he talks about the issue, you would think Montana wasn’t one of the states with the least number of immigrants in the whole country.

Despite outrage over his despicable vote against the DREAM Act, Tester hasn’t decided to leave immigration policy to states that actually have a dog in the fight. You won’t see him bragging about his DREAM Act vote, mind you — after all, Daily Kos famously called him an “asshole” for that reprehensible vote, and he doesn’t want to rekindle the ire of the netroots crowd. However, he has continued to make his anti-immigrant positions a core part of his campaign, jumping at every opportunity to link immigration to national security concerns. For instance, when a college in California was found to be enrolling foreign students without proper accreditation, Tester quickly issued a press release noting that “several of the terrorists who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001, had entered the country using student visas.”

Recently, Jon Tester put up two web pages on the issue of immigration that are so ignorant you would think Tester locked anti-immigrant zealots Mark Krikorian and John Tanton in a room with a bottle of whiskey and posted whatever they came up with.

In fact, these two immigration pages are so wrong-headed that they require some analysis and interpretation to fully make sense of them. One web page outlines his unsophisticated view of the immigration issue in four paragraphs. His other page lists his immigration “accomplishments.” (By accomplishments, Tester seems to mean ways he has screwed immigrants and wasted federal money.) I’ll review both of the pages together.

Jon’s position on immigration is simple: people who wish to immigrate to the United States must follow the rules, and we must enforce them. That’s why Jon opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants.

During his first year as Senator, Jon helped put a stop to a bill that would have granted amnesty to illegal immigrants living in the United States.

Jon voted in 2007 to defeat the Immigration Reform Bill, telling his colleagues, “We don’t need hundreds of pages of expensive new laws when we can’t even enforce the ones we’ve already got on the books.”

Where do we start? Polls have consistently shown that the people think our immigration system is broken and want some form of immigration reform. The last time our immigration laws were substantively changed was in 1996, and almost everyone agrees that those changes were ineffective — in fact, they created more problems than they solved. People are frustrated by the federal government’s failure to act, and don’t believe that “enforcement only” solutions are going to work. As a result of the federal government’s inertia, states like Arizona, Utah, and Georgia have begun to enact their own immigration policies, which raise significant constitutional concerns including due process violations and racial profiling. While I strongly oppose state level enforcement of immigration laws, and I believe that these state laws are misguided, it is difficult to fault the states for at least trying to take action when the federal government will not.

Yet, Jon Tester considers it an “accomplishment” that he has ignored the will of the public and done absolutely nothing to fix our immigration system. In fact, he is proud that he helped derail immigration reform in 2007, and has continued to sabotage efforts to reform our immigration laws. It’s nice that he sets the bar so low for himself, but the rest of the country is expecting a little more.

Tester refuses to acknowledge that our system needs to be fixed, stating “we don’t need hundreds of pages of expensive new laws when we can’t even enforce the ones we’ve already got on the books.” The problem, of course, is that our system is broken and we need to reform our laws in order to more effectively enforce them. Current immigration reform proposals aim to increase enforcement on the border and interior of the country, but recognize that in order to curb undocumented immigration we also need to fix some of our laws that are creating the problems in the first place. For instance, our laws include huge gaps in coverage, where many family members have no reasonable opportunity to immigrate legally to the United States. Among other things, reform proposals would open new paths to family-based immigration that were causing needless undocumented immigration.

Tester remains willfully obtuse in his opposition to so-called “amnesty” for immigrants who lack lawful status. “Amnesty” means a general pardon for an offense against the state, but Tester uses the term “amnesty” to refer to any changes in the law that would create a path to legalization — even if the path is strenuous and imposes a strict set of requirements. He even used the term amnesty to refer to the DREAM Act, which would have created a seven (or more) year path towards citizenship for men and women who serve our country in the military or go to college. There is no “amnesty” on the table, and there hasn’t been for years. Instead, what is being proposed is a way for immigrants who are already here to earn their way back into lawful status by paying fines, back taxes (if they haven’t already been paying like most immigrants), and potentially even community service. After all, even Newt Gingrich understands that it is not realistic to deport all of the 11 million people who are here without status.

Finally, comprehensive immigration reform won’t be expensive, as Tester states, but will actually increase wages for all workers and improve our economy. Time and again, it has been proven that spending money on border security alone, without any other changes to our laws, is untenable and ineffective. Nevertheless, Tester has chosen to advocate these “enforcement only” solutions.

Instead [of immigration reform], Jon has focused his energy on boosting security along America’s borders, particularly our northern border with Canada. From his seat on the influential Appropriations Committee, Jon has secured investments to combat the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, as well as critical investments upgrading Ports of Entry along the Canadian border.

That same year, Jon introduced and passed into law a measure requiring the Homeland Security Department to report on weaknesses along the northern border and develop a plan for improving northern border security.

So let me get this straight: Instead of working for immigration reform to help the entire country, Tester is pushing for huge government expenditures to protect us from Canada? It is foolish to tout Canadian border security as an alternative to comprehensive immigration reform, because it is clear that the risks from an unmonitored northern border have almost nothing to do with the larger immigration problems our country is facing.

While the GAO issued a report stating that Department of Homeland Security needs to work better with other agencies and partners along the northern border, the GAO didn’t endorse Tester’s crusade to spare no expense to “secure” the border. Indeed, the GAO previously pushed back on claims about insecurity on the northern border.

Nevertheless, Tester is so eager to appear strong on immigration enforcement that he managed to get an appropriation for military grade radars on the Canadian border. He also wants to expand the use of unmanned drones (and they are already being used in some areas). Those radars and drones would have come in handy last year, when I helped a Canadian kid who got lost and accidentally drove his ATV across the border.

As George Ochenski put it: “For most Montanans, the border with Canada has never been and likely will never be seen as a threat. After all, the U.S. and Canada share the longest border on the continent, and it has been our ally in world wars as well as regional conflicts. It’s also our largest trading partner and our closest, largest and most secure source of oil. Treating Canada as some variant of Pakistan’s border is, in a word, insulting to both Montanans and our Canadian friends.”

Jon was the only Senate Democrat to put his name on legislation pumping new resources into border protection for new technology and new border patrol officers. Jon cosponsored the measure after securing a pledge that a certain percentage of those new resources would be spent along the northern border.

Here’s a tip for Tester’s staffers: When you’re the only Democrat to put your name on a piece of legislation, its probably nothing to brag about. The bill that Tester is referring to is actually a corollary to one that was introduced by his opponent, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT). Jon Tester partnered up with Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-AZ), among other Republicans, to co-sponsor a $3 million amendment. This bill also funded construction of the fence along the Mexican border — a project that has been abandoned and condemned as a tremendous failure and waste of billions in taxpayer dollars.

And from his seat on the influential Appropriations Committee, Jon has secured investments to combat the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, as well as critical investments upgrading Ports of Entry along the Canadian border.

One of Tester’s “critical upgrades” was a $15 million dollar renovation to the border station in Whitetail, MT, which was reported to get about five crossings a day and no commercial traffic. After facing criticism for needless spending, Tester and Max Baucus reduced the appropriation to only $8.5 million. Meanwhile, Canadian officials closed the road leading to this border station, rendering the whole project useless. This embarrassing episode didn’t make Tester’s list of accomplishments.

Of course, even though he votes against any legislation that isn’t directed purely towards deporting immigrants, Tester wouldn’t want you to get the impression that he is against immigration:

Jon knows that legal immigrants, like his grandparents, helped build America into what it is today. But he also believes that no one is above the law.

In public statements and constituent letters, Tester is constantly stating that his grandparents “waited in line” and followed the rules, implying that new immigrants should be expected to follow the same process. However, it appears that Tester’s ancestors entered the country in 1916 — before our current immigration system even existed. At that time, our immigration policy was comparable to an “open border” policy. Years later, quotas were enacted to limit immigration and more stringent criteria for entry were developed. It was not until 1965 that the current Immigration and Nationality Act was enacted, with its very limited methods for gaining permanent residence in the U.S.

There is no question that Jon Tester’s ancestors faced a dramatically different immigration system than those who are immigrating today. Tester and other enforcement advocates often evoke the image of a “line” that immigrants must simply wait in. However, the truth is that for most immigrants, there is no “line.” Tester’s own grandparents may not have been able to enter the country under our current immigration scheme.

Jon Tester seems intent on mimicking Rehberg in many ways, including sharing his anti-immigrant views.

Jon Tester’s vocal anti-immigrant positions have placed Montana progressives in a difficult position. Contrary to the attacks of those who want to silence any opposition to Tester’s bad policies, none of us are excited about the prospect of his opponent, Dennis Rehberg, being elected to the Senate. Indeed, Rehberg’s stance on immigration is no better than Tester’s. However, Tester’s ignorant views on immigration are also making it impossible for us to lend him our vote.

Tester’s positions on immigration are not gaining him support with Republicans, but they are causing a split among Democrats. The best thing for Jon Tester to do is distance himself from the issue of immigration, because each time he opens his mouth, he brings many progressives closer to sending a difficult message: The progressive movement cannot tolerate a Democrat who has an anti-immigrant agenda, regardless of the consequences.

Shahid Haque-Hausrath blogs about local immigration issues at Border Crossing Law Blog.

By CFS

Since the Republicans showed their true communist colors and adopted the slogan “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” with the passage of SB 423 ridding the fledgling medical marijuana industry of the profit motive patients will inevitably suffer and the black market will invariably fill the void left by the current caregiver system.

I wonder what the Republicans think all these MMJ growers will do once they become outlawed… Sell their equipment on craigslist? More likely, these growers that have sunk thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of dollars into their business will continue to grow for the black market where they can actually make money… Tax free at that. These people are small business entrepreneurs after all, and they just need government to get out of their way.

Anyway, there is a great Slate feature that I suggest anyone interested in this issues should read. The article is written by a woman whose son suffers from a severe form of autism and the only thing that she has found that helps her child is marijuana. There are four parts to the series spanning a two year period of her family’s struggle with the disorder and how, through the use of medical marijuana, they have been able to live a more normal and happy life.

by jhwygirl

HB198 was transmitted to Governor Schweitzer last Friday, April 29th.

In his hands sits a bill that he knows is bad.

Schweitzer is, in fact, quite the hypocrite when it comes to this eminent domain bill. He lobbied heavily for this bill, from the opening of the session when he called this eminent domain bill one of the the legislature’s “most important acts” in his State of the State address back in January:

Third and this might be your most important task and if you get it right it will create thousands of jobs in Montana, if you get it wrong or you don’t finish it there will be pink slips that go to workers across Montana.

I guess Governor Schweitzer thinks if he keeps telling the press that the eminent domain bill is bad and crappy and the legislature needs to fix it, that the property owners in Northwest Energy and Tonebridge’s sights and the large number of people in opposition to this bill will feel better about the bill if (when?) he signs it or let’s it lapse into law.

In reality, what’s likely going to happen when Tonbridge go to court to force a takings on a private property owner, more property owners around the state are going to realize exactly and precisely the affects of HB198. Someone will be to blame. Since the bill had opposition and supporters on both sides of the aisle, it’s pretty easy to see where the finger-pointing is going to go.

And since he will represent to many “The Democrats,” it’s going to be “The Democrats” that are going to get targeted as anti-private property rights for…well – forever. Kinda like everyone blames Racicot and the Republicans with selling off Montana Power.

It’s a legacy that Democrats who voted on the wrong side of this bill may want to consider.

Who got played?

There was a straightforward way to do this if that is truly what they wanted to do – but the legislature and the Governor back-doored this bill in the Major Facilities Siting Act, which is amended every darn session it seems to get around any number of regulations.

So Montana becomes a colony for Canada when we hand over eminent domain power to Tonbridge, a Canadian company. And don’t forget China, either, as Otter Creek will also bring with it a railroad to transport the stuff for Wyoming and for China.

Which is another thing Governor said wouldn’t happen in his 2011 State of the State:

We will develop Montana’s energy on Montana’s terms, not as a colony for our energy hungry country.

What I want to know is while Governor Schweitzer is very vocal (lately) about how crappy this bill is…and while he lobbied very heavily for this bill – having his staff on the floor for both debates….why didn’t he speak up sooner?

Why didn’t he propose a bill?

He could have offered testimony during committee. His office did it for other bills.

This eminent domain bill HB198 will have the impact that the sale of Montana Power had on this state.

Veto it, good Governor.

by Pete Talbot

At first glance, maybe this was something I should have attended. The Helena Independent Record headline read: Insight offered to bloggers.  Gosh, I thought, I wonder why I didn’t hear about this earlier.

Then some of the names in the story caught my eye: Aaron Flint of the Flint Report, Carl Graham of the Montana Policy Institute, Montana Watchdog, the Franklin Center — all pretty much mouthpieces for right wing and Libertarian causes.

Flint, for example, has a radio show on the Northern Ag Network, a conservative station out of Billings.  He has the Flint Report website, too, that carries headlines like: Tester Profits Off Credit Card Companies and Bullock Gets Testy Over Otter Creek.

The Montana Policy Institute out of Bozeman is a Libertarian think tank that refuses to reveal it’s funding sources.  Perhaps you’ve seen MPI President Carl Graham’s guest columns in your local paper on the wonders of a free market economy.  MPI just finished hosting a “Health Care Freedom Panel” with keynote speaker and MPI Senior Fellow Rob Natelson.

There’s Montana Watchdog, another website, that is sponsored by the Montana Policy Institute and presents itself as a news organization with Front Page links to, well, Natelson’s “Health Care Freedom Panel.”

The Franklin Center, based in North Dakota and Virginia (now there’s a strange pairing) bills itself as an organization dedicated to investigative reporting.  The group’s founder and president, Jason Stverak, is the former executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party.

Here’s a line from the end of the IR story:

Also among them was Big Sky Tea Party Association board member Roger Nummerdor, who thinks it might be time to start doing some blogging.

This all happened last Saturday at the Red Lion Colonial Inn in Helena.

And these guys are joined at the hip.  I don’t begrudge some dudes holding a workshop, spreading the righteous word, maybe having a few beers, chewing the fat.  It’s just that they’re so sneaky about it.  You seldom see them flaunting their right-wing credentials.

Heck, they even fooled the IR reporter, who didn’t mention a thing in her story about these guys’ background.  I’m hoping she was fooled, anyway, because if she knew and didn’t mention it, that’s piss-poor reporting.

by jhwygirl

HB198 was passed on third reading this morning in the Senate. I won’t rehash the ugly mess of this bill that will enable private major facility businesses to take private property for private gain – you can just put HB198 into the search there on the right for that background.

That being said, the bill is heading to the Governor’s desk after a debate yesterday that had proponents of the bill push off amendments they felt were worthy because they had to ‘get this thing done for MATL.’

So we have a bill that’s bad, even by proponent’s standards.

What is probably not so shocking since he’s been demanding this bill, is that Governor Schweitzer is willing to sign off on this bill that he, too, admits does not protect private property rights.

Schweitzer is going to offer an amendatory veto to this bad bill that will have it sunset it in 2013. That means that Montanans will have a bill that has a special retroactive clause to capture up and (hopefully for them) cure MATL’s legal issues and its failure to negotiate in good faith with Montana property owners being signed by the Governor – even though he admits it’s a shitty bill. From the good Gov:

“The Legislature has got to spend the next two years putting together an eminent domain law that makes sense for developers and for landowners of Montana,” Schweitzer said at a Capitol news conference. “This bill is not right; it didn’t address landowner concerns.”

I’m not a landowner, but if I were in the path of anything that has a major facility line or pipeline anywhere near it, I’d be darn pissed off right now.

Voters can not point the blame of this horrible legislation at any one party – both sides of the aisle voted on both sides of the issue, and ardently defended their positions. Being the one signing it into law, though, is a different matter.

(Addendum)
Read the Billings Gazette edition of this story and the comments are interesting. Not many in support of the thing, and the only people being blamed are Democrats.

And that will be how it goes. A whole bunch of people that will never check the actual vote on that bill (that saw the likes of Verdell Jackson voting for the thing) will blame it on “Democrats” when in truth there were a whole lot of “Republicans” who voted for it, too.

by jhwygirl

Even the old timers I know can’t recall a more lunatic legislature. One of the most conservative on that list recently told me that they thought the Governor was right with his budget and they (the legislature) were “a bunch of idiots.”

I was floored.

Anyways….the Republican controlled 62nd Legislature took its unprecedented 2nd break of the session today, coming back on Tuesday.

These breaks aren’t saving any money – in fact, they’re costing the taxpayers and inconveniencing the legislative staff who still have to stick around.

The first break (April 14th) cost the taxpayers somewhere around $60,000. This current break will cost over $75,000.

Republicans are taking the break because they are waiting on the Governor’s veto of HB2, the main budget bill.

There are other components to the budget bill, though – and combined together they represent the “bottom dollar” and Governor Schweitzer is saying it’s impossible to be responsible with the budget without seeing the entire picture.

And I’ve yet to hear from anyone in the MTGOP as to why that doesn’t make sense.

Which, of course, they can’t say because The Governor Needs To See The Whole Budget!

Look – what I wonder is why someone in the media isn’t getting Senate President Jim Peterson or Speaker of the House Mike Milburn on camera and asking them how they expect the Governor to responsibly review a budget when he doesn’t have the entire thing.

This cat-and-mouse game being played up there in Helena is getting frustratingly boorish. By taking these breaks, the Republicans want to be able to pin the costs of the upcoming special session on the Democrats or on Governor Brian Schweitzer when the Democrats and Governor Brian Schweitzer have told them to put the federal funding back in the budget. They’ve tried to adequately fund the schools (and considering the state’s been sued for lack of adequate funding, their concerns are well-placed) and the Republicans have ignored those requests also.

Here’s a hint: The public aint’ buying it.

My view looking in says that people are getting sick of some of the obvious fights Republicans are picking this session – let’s not forget the attacks on gays and local governance – and if they think they are going to hand the Governor an incomplete budget and then expect to be able to blame him when they go into special session they are either up there smoking crack or…..

Or they are home in their districts smoking crack.

by jhwygirl

The Senate Energy & Telecommunications tied 6-6 today in committee on HB198, and then subsequently voted to table the bill, effectively killing it.

Senate Legislative Rules allow for the committee to reconsider its votes providing the committee has not yet reported to the Secretary of the Senate.

Which is the likely explanation for why Sen. Olson, chair of Senate Energy & Telecommunications, called a special meeting of his committee for tomorrow at 3 p.m.

Reporter Mike Dennison the story on what happened today.

Despite continued reading of information concerning HB198, I still think it is a dangerous door to open. Eminent domain statutes are situation under Title 70, Chapter 30. Public uses are defined there under Part 102.

Only that isn’t where HB198 changes the law. It adds a more expansive definition of what a public utility is under Title 69 – a definition that was exclusive to that Title….and applies it to the not-that-narrow constraints of eminent domain in Title 70.

The key word there in Title 70 resting on public uses that are used by the public in Montana. Title 70 allows for condemnation of a long laundry list of things – including distribution lines for electricity. To suggest that some major crisis happens should pass-through lines owned by private companies be unable to condemn is hysterics.

What is different here with MATL is that those lines are passing on through Montana. They will not be regulated for Montana. There is simply no assurance that that these lines can be used by smaller users.

Nor is there any guarantee of fairness to those seeking accessibility to these lines.

Until such time that the state can guarantee a true fair and equitable public use of those transmission lines.

The current bill, as it stands, is lazy and inadequate to protect the citizens of Montana against unchecked private interests. If approved it will surely stand as yet another famous Montana give away to private interests.

By relying on the Major Facilities Siting Act, it allows major decisions to be made about private property large and small without any input whatsoever from the private property owners. Keep in mind, at least one county has sued for being left out of the loop – so involvement and scoping under the Major Facilities Siting Act is clearly flawed (to say the least).

So, like I wrote yesterday, please take the time to contact members of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee and let them know that HB198 has significant flaws and does NOT provide for public uses and as such should not allow for condemnation of private property for purely private purposes.

Information on contacting your legislators can be found here.

You can also contact the entire Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee by calling 406-444-4800 and leaving a message.

The legislative desk begins taking calls at 7:30 a.m.

Here are the members of Senate Energy and Telecommunications. The ones with a * voted NO today…and are being pressured to change their vote:
Chair: Alan Olson (R-Roundup)
Vice Chair: Verdell Jackson (R-Kalispell)
Vice Chair: Ron Erickson (D-Missoula)
*Shannon Augare (D-Browning)
*Jeff Essmann (R-Billings)
Bob Lake (R-Hamilton)
*Lynda Moss (D-Billings)
*Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge)
*Mitch Tropila (D-Great Falls)
*Kendall Van Dyk (D-Billings)
Chas Vincent (R-Libby)
Edward Walker (R-Billings)

by jhwygirl

I’ve been able to listen to some of the Free Conference HB2 budget hearing today and I have to say I’m thoroughly disgusted.

A short summary might be something like this: Dems Sen. Carol Williams and Rep. John Sesso make motion after motion to replace federal funding into the budget and every amendment was rejected. With little to no discussion.

This is money that Schweitzer has said will be one of the reasons for his promised veto of the budget: It is federal funding that will go to another state if we don’t take it.

The amount is upwards of $100 million, much of it for social services.

Today the committee sparred, with Lewis jovially leading the charge of not budging on any amendments that I heard offered by Williams or Sesso. There really was – again, I’ve only heard part of it – little to no discussion. Clearly, as this quick report on today’s hearing points out, the Republicans have no intent to negotiate this thing at all.

They want that veto. Keep in mind I use the word “jovially” to describe how today’s hearing played out.

Plainer wording is that the Republicans were downright disrespectful of the legislative process and their fellow legislators. It wasn’t hidden. It was unprofessional and unfitting of someone for whom I’ve expressed respect for in the past. Yet alone the rest of them.

Senator Carol Williams – goddess that she is – has more grace in her baby toenail than all the Republicans I heard joking and jabbing today in committee.

Here’s an idea: Maybe the 18 Republicans that are fond of federal subsidies for their agricultural business should signal to Sen. Dave Lewis (who is heading up the joint committee) that they are more than willing to allow the addition of the federal monies to the state budget.

Either that, or I suggest the hypocrites give their federal subsidy money back, just as they are forcing the disabled and poor of Montana to do.

Hell – Rep. Janna Taylor, a Republican out of Dayton could start the “give back” off with her $1,017,491.

Quite the welfare check, I’d say.

Then there’s a whole other bunch of tea party anti-federal money. Here’s some of the bigger hypocrites:

Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, $643,063
Sen. Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo, $637,547
Rep. Lee Randall, R-Broadus, $507,674
Sen. John Brenden, R-Scobey, $497,291
Sen. Taylor Brown, R-Huntley, $473,563
Rep. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, $380,160
Sen. Donald Steinbeisser, R-Sidney, $241,761
Rep. Daniel Salomon, R-Ronan, $223,865
Sen. Ron Arthun, R-Wilsall, $213,800
Sen. Terry Murphy, R-Cardwell, $188,427
Rep. Mike Milburn, R-Cascade, $141,770
Sen. Debby Barrett, R-Dillon, $123,378
Rep. Christy Clark, R-Choteau, $122,287
Sen. Rick Ripley, R-Wolf Creek, $89,847

by jhwygirl

Because we elect people like Rep. Alan Hale, of Basin Montana. Legislators that have no problem standing up for the right to drink and drive.

If case you missed the action on the floor of the Montana House today, here’s a cut of Rep. Hale championing drinking and driving as “a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years,” and that all the laws aimed at cracking down on DUI’s are destroying small business.

There is so much wrong with that statement – can’t call it logic – that I honestly don’t know where to begin.

Certainly Hale was squalling his war cry for more than just himself? A majority of voters in Basin and Boulder and House District 77 support this point of view?

Or was Rep. Alan Hale purely serving his own economic interests?

Supermontanareporter John S. Adams, at his blog The Lowdown points out that Hale owns a bar.

It’s not hard to put together…especially when bill passed the volatile GOP-controlled House 88-12.

So Hale put out the last hail that only his ale-loving mind could put out: It’s anti-business!

He probably could have gotten a few more votes if he had said that he had personally talked to several tavern and bar and restaurant owners and all of them had personally told them that they were going to have to close up shop.

I hope the people of Boulder and Basin and the rest of House District 77 that elected this neanderthal remember Rep. Hale’s priorities come 2012: Business and profit over lives and safety of both the general public and the drunk driver.

Don’t miss Pogie on Rep. Hale’s pro-DUI speech, either.

Honestly? I’m kind of embarrassed for all of my Republican friends. When they do talk about what is happening up there, they’re embarrassed.

I’d say that Rep. Hale isn’t helping things in that department.

On that note – has Rep. Knox yet remembered whether he’s ever sold marijuana before? You’d really think he’d want to clear that up.

~~~
I also want to say “HA” to all of you who criticized me for saying that drinking and Montana is a way of life here and that the culture has to change. If I recall I was accused of overstating the issue.

Think of the comfort level Hale had today (misguided as it were) as he stood there on the floor championing drinking and driving. Mind boggling.

Or not.

by jhwygirl

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va.) delivered the GOP’s weekly address on Saturday, delving in to what he believes is the constitutional issue of health care reform. The Hill has the story, and the video.

I do believe that in almost all situations we all have something common….and McDonnell’s position is certainly one I agree with:

Regardless of party, we should all agree that the sooner we know if the law is constitutional, the better for the American people.

In fact, I really wish the Montana legislature took a look at this when they were proposing bills. It’d be really nice if any bill had some sort of constitutional review (for both the U.S. and the Montana constitutions) before any hearing in committee.

Sometimes there will be a comment – if there is a fiscal note produced – regarding legal issues. But not everything gets a fiscal note – and hell, even a lot of bills related to taxation don’t seem to get fiscal notes. I know I’ve heard hearings on tax related bills where there hasn’t been a fiscal note published. How in the hell is the public supposed to comment on bills when even a rudimentary analysis isn’t completed by the non-partisan legislative staff?

That way we’d have some reasonable assumptions about lawsuits that the state would have to defend in the future? I mean – that costs taxpayer dollars too.

Ahh, I’ve digressed…

Anyways…if I could propose a bill, it’d be that one – require any bill to have a informational review for constitutionality prior to committee hearing. That informational review should be required to be published….and not stuck in some “junk folder” in some back file.

by jhwygirl

The theme “Even MORE National Media Attention Courtesy MTGOP” is getting old, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to to anywhere.

If FOXnews is using “Bat-Crap” and “Montana” in the same headline – quoting Democratic Governor Schweitzer, nonetheless – honestly, you really should reconsider things.

Who’s running that ship? Will Deschamps? Yoy.

Not only that – if FOXnews is explaining one of your crazy bills – HB278 – this way, you should maybe go crawling back in the cave you came from:

Schweitzer did not mention Montana House Bill 278, which would authorize creating armed citizen militias able to repel invaders, presumably war-like Canadians.

Rep. Wendy Warburton, I’m sure, is proud.

by Pete Talbot

Special session?

There are rumors in Helena that this session could end early.  It’s all coming down to the budget, now, and since the Republicans aren’t accepting any amendments or, really, compromising on anything, their budget proposal will head straight to the governor. Schweitzer will veto it.  That pretty much guarantees an early out — I’ve heard April 2 instead of the scheduled April 21 end date — and a special session.  Thanks, GOP, for not reaching across the aisle and getting the people’s business done in 90 days … and costing the state more money in a special session.

Champ is still a chump

They don’t mind spending money on a special session but are loathe to spend money on children, Montana college kids, seniors and the poor.  Republican Champ Edmunds (HD-100) has a letter to the editor today that plays fast-and-loose with the facts-and-figures in explaining the Republican budget.

A more accurate description comes from Democrat Carol Williams (SD-46):

“The Governor’s budget is balanced, funds critical services and maintains the second largest savings account in Montana history.  The Republican budget is balanced on the backs of women, children and seniors.  Republicans took an ax to the budget when we have money in the bank,” she said.  “I had hoped that we would be able to say to Montana’s families: we’re going to take care of your children if they get sick, make sure you put food on your table, and keep your homes warm.  But the Republican majority turned a deaf ear to the pleas of Montanans who came before the committee asking for services to be restored.”

Here are some of the facts:

* $206.2 million in cuts to the Montana families, kids, students, and seniors

* $49 million eliminated from Medicaid which would result in 4,084 babies losing coverage.

* $34.9 million cut from SNAP/Food Assistance impacting 53,000 kids, 30,000 seniors, and 42,000 adults who would go without food benefits for two months.

* $35 million rejected in healthcare information technology for 47 critical access hospitals in rural areas across the state.

* $26 million slashed from Healthy Montana Kids that would boot 5,000 children off of health insurance.

* $9.6 million removed from LIEAP that will force 12,000 families to go without heating assistance the next two winters.

* $4.7 million cut from family services eliminating services used by over 27,000 Montana families every year for healthcare, screenings and reproductive care.

* $32 million in cuts to higher education, which will result in a tuition increase of 26% over the next two years.

Williams added that with the $174.2 million in cuts to the Health and Human Services budget, Republicans turned back over $80 million in federal money, which could go to other states.  She also noted that the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana estimates that for every $10 million cut in healthcare, about 144 jobs are lost.  These cuts could result in a loss of over 2,508 healthcare jobs.

The tale of two headlines

I’ve been visiting the Magic City of Billings and reading the Billings Gazette. Here was the Front Page, above the fold, headline on Sunday:

Poll: Tightening up medical marijuana law preferable to repeal

When I checked my hometown paper, the Missoulian, here was its Front Page headline:

Most Favor Repeal

And it had a subhead that read: Lee Newspaper poll shows that 52 percent support dumping law.

Here’s the story, and while the Missoulian headline is technically correct, if you read the entire piece you’ll notice that if not given any other choice, yeah, Montanans would be in favor of a repeal. But, if given the option, 57 percent backed stricter regulations and licensing requirements, while 31 percent wanted to repeal the law and 11 percent favored keeping the current law intact.  So basically, 68 percent don’t favor repeal.

The Gazette got it right.  Missoulian: that’s lazy headline writing.

Molnar screws Missoula

I was pleasantly surprised when two of the three Republicans on the PSC voted to allow the Clark Fork Coalition “intervenor status” in the review of Mountain Water’s sale to the Carlyle Group, a private global investment firm.  Republicans Bill Gallagher and Travis Kavulla joined Democrats Gail Gutsche and John Vincent in the votes.  Volatile Republican Brad Molnar voted against CFC in intervening on behalf of Missoula water drinkers saying, “it’s a purchase issue and they don’t have standing.”  Thanks, four out of five, for voting (initially at least) in Missoula’s interest.  The Garden City needs all the friends it can get while battling this international conglomerate.

Some newspaper kudos

I’m one of the first to throw brickbats at our state’s newspapers. We are, however, extremely fortunate to have veteran Lee Newspaper reporters Mike Dennison and Chuck Johnson covering the state capitol.  An unscientific poll over at LiTW (you’ll have to scroll down a little) has blogs being the first source for information on the Montana Legislature — among bloggers, naturally.  That’s a nice ego stroke but I still continue to turn to seasoned reporters as my first source for news and analysis. Then I go to the blogs.  (I particularly respect anything Dennison writes on health care issues.  His Montana perspective on the effects of the national health care debate has been Pulitzer Prize calibre IMHO.)

John Adams of the Great Falls Tribune has done some outstanding legislative reporting although I don’t follow him as much.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.  Same with Montana Public Radio.  Thank you, all, and keep up the good work.

by jhwygirl

Otter Creek is never going to get mined. All Arch Coal wants is to be able to run a railroad through it, to get it to the port it owns a third of. to export the stuff to China.

That is, please note, the second port agreement for Arch is less than a month.

If that isn’t colonialism, I don’t know what is.

We’re waving traffic flags for $10/hour for Korean-built drilling equipment for China….and we’re condemning state federal and private property for a railroad to get it there.

Nice.

State Attorney General Steve Bullock talked about the economics of the bonus payment in relation to the amount of money that Arch will save immediately by shipping its coal across Montana with the railroad it’d be building (via eminent domain) in the Tongue River Basin. His staff researched that information pretty thoroughly.

How is that for an example of fine government coal subsidy on the backs of the taxpayers of Montana?

And keep in mind that Montana’s coal isn’t the quality of stuff that Wyoming has. That’s fact.

That $80 million so-called “bonus bid”? Nothing more than shush money to members of both parties for paving the way to a situation that has brought about ridiculous destructive environmental legislation in the name of “jobs”.

What’s even more hilarious is that the feds are complicit in this – the federal Surface Transportation Board has already approved the route and has told Montana (translate, so no one misses it: State’s Rights) Fish Wildlife & Parks to figure things out over the route that crosses a federally-funded sturgeon fishery.

Someone’s getting rich. It won’t be Montanan’s, you can bet on it.

Follow the money.

by jhwygirl

Montana Rep. Kristen Hansen’s pro-discrimination bill, HB516 was pulled from second reading today and referred back to committee with a 44-4 vote on the Senate floor.

Interesting.

by jhwygirl

In a post titled “Profiting from Hypocrisy“, blogger montanafesto exposes the troubled hypocrisy of Rep. James Knox and his pro-repeal medical marijuana stance. First the video:

Read montanafesto’s post. Rep. James Knox offered his services to a medical marijuana business, at a greatly discounted price because his business “was slow.”

There’s more – montanafesto takes Knox on in Facebook…and now, apparently, an email has been removed from the website because Knox was threatening his lawyers.

Neither here nor there, now…the Billings Gazette has picked up the story.

Wonder if Knox has threatened to sue them, too?

~~~~~~~
So all this insane personal intrusion schizophrenic state-rights/anti-state rights Montana Republican party-led legislating has me now more than just barely pondering: What is it these guys and gals are doing up there? Rep. Warburton is obsessed with making my vagina a crime scene….Rep. Kristin Hansen wants to treat LGBTQ human beings as something less than such, and now we have Knox falling all over himself to provide discounted services to the medical marijuana community.

What is it they say? People in glass houses should not be throwing rocks?

What else is there to explain this regressive hate-filled legislation? There’s a ton of it out there.

Kuddos to you, montanafesto!

by jhwygirl

The state’s Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on HB161, the bill proposed by House Speaker Mike Milburn, that would repeal Montana’s Citizen Initiative 148, which passed in 2004

Sen. Milburn is a resident of Cascade, a member of the Grand Old Party and a man working on his 4th term in the House.

We can go on and on about the evils of repealing a citizen’s initiative that passed (I hear) by an pretty significant majority…and we can go on about the evils of the refusal of legislators to actually actively regulate marijuana since it having come into law (that would be 3 sessions, folks)…and we can go on about the hypocrisy of a bunch of so called conservatives creating more nanny state government…AND we can go on about the hypocrisy of a bunch of tea party anti-government types who embrace laws that tell the federal government that they can’t regulate Montana-made firearms yet don’t want to let sick people take proven medicine that has fewer side effects than Tylenol.

I’ll just link you to this article in the New York Times which quotes Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss on the job and investment-killing side effects of repealing medical marijuana in Montana:

Bozeman’s mayor, Jeff Krauss, a Republican, said he thought there was an element of economic fairness to be considered in the debate about medical marijuana’s future. “I don’t think anybody passed it thinking we were creating an industry,” he said, referring to the 2004 voter referendum. But like it or not, he said, it has become one, and legal investments in the millions of dollars have been made.

“Somewhere around 25 people have made anywhere from a $60,000 to a $100,000 bet on this industry,” Mr. Krauss said, referring to the local startups and their capital costs.

“Now the Legislature has got us saying, ‘Ha, too bad, you lose,’ ” Mr. Krauss added. “Boy is that a bad message to send when we’re in the doldrums.”

I could of worked “Even MORE National Media Attention for MTGOP” into the title!

HB161 stalled 6-6 in committee. I don’t know if they officially declared it dead, but Senate Judiciary committee chair Terry Murphy immediately named a three-member committee to come up with “a regulatory alternative” to a repeal bill.

That’s a large order on a short notice (how many days left in the session?) but a whole hell of a lot common sense. And frankly, the Senate Judiciary might just be one of the only places where common sense even has a fighting chance.

I always did think the GOP in the Senate were going to try and bring a little bit of common sense back to this session.

Murphy’s hearings have been far less inflammatory than the House Judiciary (chaired by Rep. Ken Peterson, of Billings). Sen. Murphy even got a thank-you from Senate Minority Leader Sen. Carol Williams (Missoula’s Senate Goddess) for his well-run hearing on HB516 just yesterday.

That being said, let’s get to the other part….

What’s with Senator Larry Jent, a Democrat representing Bozeman for quite a number of years – 3 terms in the House and he’s currently working on his 3rd term in the Senate.

Jent was the lone Democrat to vote for repeal of medical marijuana. What to say about that?

by jhwygirl

And I know a whole lot of them were inside working…so just to make sure they don’t miss the bigger picture out there:

KGVO AM 1290 – conservative talk radio down here in Missoula – reported today that “less than a dozen protesters” were at the rally.

Reuters has even joined in, reporting that protesters were Outnumbered by the media and politicians in attendance”.

It was a gun-toting rally that had to have special permission to carry the guns on the Capital grounds.

Bring Your Gun to The Capitol Day? What is this? Show and yell? Or just a redo of Sen. Joe Balyeat riding a donkey into the rotunda during the 2009 session?

I’m going to suggest puppies and kittens next time. I’m thinking they’d draw more attention.

Which, speaking of, Reuters has a nice little slideshow (4 or 5 pics) of the freak show, including this nice pic of Tim Ravndal, Executive Director of Lewis & Clark County’s Conservative Tea Party:

Even former state representative Scott Sales, Montana director for Americans for Prosperity got into the mix.

Honestly? Maybe we should be giving the MTGOP credit for creating jobs – its practically bank now that out-of-state journalists are here to watch the show…which means they’re getting a hotel room, eating in restaurants and I’m sure enjoying some of Montana’s fine 8.75 microbrew in the 4000 foot elevation of the state capitol.

The “freak show” statement might sound harsh, but do put that in the context of the fact that there had been a rally in support of workers and middle class America held in conjunction with the freak show, yet there’s nary a mention of that protest, which drew hundreds.

And seriously – if Sarah Elliot isn’t inviting Stephen Colbert for a visit with the Governor and his buddy Jag, she isn’t thinking outside the box.

by Pete Talbot

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza has a great blog called The Fix. Besides dishing Washington insider info, he does an annual column on the best political blogs, state-by-state. I’m proud to say that 4&20 usually makes the list.

Now Mr. Cillizza has compiled the best political tweeters from each state. Here’s the link but you’ll have to scroll down a few stories to find his column on “tweeps.”

I’m familiar with most, but not all, the names. For example, our own jhwygirl made the list. I’m not sure who assigned the (D) behind each name but here are the players, copied straight from The Fix site:

EllieHill (D), c_sjohnson, brycebennett (D), JameeGreer (D), montuckyliberal (D), Mike_Wessler (D), jgrennan (D), dpogreba (D), jhwygirl (D), chasemohney (D).

Since I don’t have a Twitter account, I’m running late and I’m technically challenged, I can’t find links for all of the above. Maybe someone could help me out?

Anyway, congratulations. I’m sure about the time I start tweeting, some new technology will make the scene, rendering me obsolete, again.

(Update: The Missoula Independent gives us the links here. Thanks for doing the work, Indy, and a hat tip to p-bear and Mookie.)

by jhwygirl

Wulfgar! at Left in the West gets the hat tip on this one.

From Friday’s hearings, detailed in several posts below. Watch Superstar State Representative Ellie Hill (HD-94) take on the Montana’s Christian Taliban’s Reverend Harris Himes.

Rep. Hill? THANK YOU.

This is a civilized society. It seems that some of the GOP running these committees forgets these things. Every statement does not fall under “free speech” and inciting violence is not anything that should be tolerated.

And Rep. Ken Peterson, of Billings? 10 minutes is not a public hearing.

You represent ALL, not just those than elected you. You are a disgrace to the state bar (if you hold it); a disgrace to the House Judiciary; and a disgrace to the Montana Legislature.

And pulling for seventeen executive actions in House Judicary on Monday morning, in less than 4 hours? That leaves no time for meaningful discussion between legislators – but that’s exactly what you want now, isn’t it?

You are a disgrace to democracy.

by jhwygirl

There is a bill geared at denying equality to certain people in Montana that will be heard in legislative committee today. It applies retroactively in an effort to quash Missoula and Bozeman’s equality ordinances which extended protections to gays, lesbians and transgendered persons (Bozeman’s not being as far reaching).

There was also some quick maneuvering of the schedule to bring this to hearing…and the committee moved up their start time to 7 a.m. to boot. This bill was introduced on the floor first reading just last Saturday. Special treatment, I’d say.

In addition, along with the quick schedule changes there has been an ongoing discussion about comments. This legislature, controlled by a majority GOP, so they’re holding every committee chair, has been quite disciplined about public comment to the point of a FOX news fair-and-balanced point of view. Equal time, regardless of the number of people.

Now-I understand the need to set some limits – but to just stop the public from comment? I would highly suggest that you take a moment, if you haven’t, to listen to or watch a committee session to see what I mean. I have it on channel 67.

Wisconsin is doing at least one thing right out there – they went overnight in testimony the other night to allow everyone who wanted to testify, testify.

Nothing like last year’s bridge access hearing, as an example, which went on to darn near midnight if not later. Just to allow testimony from everyone that wanted to testify.

In House Judiciary tomorrow (with the meeting starting at 7) HB516, a bill entitled “AN ACT PROHIBITING LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FROM ENACTING ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS, OR POLICIES THAT CONTAIN, AS A PROTECTED CLASS, ANY CLASSIFICATION NOT SPECIFICALLY INCLUDED AS A PROTECTED CLASS UNDER STATE LAW; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE AND A RETROACTIVE APPLICABILITY DAT

It is proposed by a legislator out of Havre, Rep. Kristin Hansen.

Because, you know, Havre doesn’t want all those crazy Missoulians coming up that way and expecting equality and stuff.

In a serendipitous counterbalance, HB514, from Rep. Edie McClafferty, of Butte will be heard, a bill with a short title of “Protect sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.”

So we have yet another nanny-state Republican proposed bill – this one geared at stopping a Missoula ordinance that failed multiple referendum attempts.

Oh – and you know what local politicians here support this nanny-state big government bill? Councilors Dick Haines, Lyn Hellegaard and Renee Mitchell. Haines at least had the guts to vote “no” in committee to the City of Missoula opposing the oridnance. Lyn and Renee? The merely abstained.

Ward 5? Ward 4? You got some real hate-filled people representing you on city council. Let’s hope you do better next time around.

I know Bozeman’s Mayor Krauss will be there to testify. I’ve not heard who from Missoula’s local government will be there to represent, but I’d love to update if anyone knows.

House Judiciary won’t likely take executive action today. They wouldn’t have the guts, as there will undoubtedly be an huge number of people in opposition to this bill in attended. Please take the time to contact legislators and them know that Montana should be a state that supports equality. That Helena should stay out of running local government…and instead of trying to run local government, perhaps they should start funding it instead of making all kinds of “unfunded mandates” up there every session while limiting local taxing capability to 1/2 the rate of inflation.

You can use this online messaging form and contact the whole committee at one time, or by choosing a legislator. It does not appear that they’ve got software in there that allows you to pick more than one legislator at a time. Hopefully they’ll add that in the future. Or at least “up to 5” or something like that.

by jhwygirl

I’ve ranted to a seemingly uninformed audience in support of Governor Schweitzer’s bill to change the way certain oil & gas revenues are distributed.

I’ve called it unfair. I’ve decried the conservatives lambasting of the proposal as further evidence of their hypocrisy towards government subsidies. I’ve complained about how it it shows an abandonment of the free market – and example of how this so-called great profitable high-paying and tons-of-jobs industry doesn’t truly support the communities from where it extracts it’s resources.

Because if there are all of these high-paying jobs, shouldn’t those high-paid employees be paying taxes that support the social infrastructure of the community?

Lee reporter Mike Dennison has a great article on the issue which includes a paragraph better summing up the message I may have failed to convey.

A handful of school districts – primarily in far eastern Montana – get millions of dollars in oil-and-gas revenue, have large financial reserves and levy zero or very few local property tax mills to support their schools.

What that oil & gas fund has done is bought the pockets of a whole bunch of legislators out east and a whole bunch of voters that don’t have to pay taxes to support their schools.

Imagine the perspective you might have if you in Missoula or in the Flathead or up in Lewis & Clark county didn’t have to pay taxes to support your schools?

Imagine the political perspective in the counties listed here if those citizens there actually had to pay “market” taxes for schools?

I’ve said a bunch of times and I’ll say it again – the mineral estate is the property of the citizens of Montana. If the state is taxing it, it belongs to everyone. It is not the property of a handful of counties with less than half of the state’s population so that they can have lower taxes and so they don’t have to support their schools.

HB136 was killed Wednesday in House Education.

It’s disgusting. It’s unfair. It’s wrong.

Governor Brian Schweitzer was correct.

On this one.

by jhwygirl

Updated below.

So Governor Brian Schweitzer is a fan of nullification.

Why am I not surprised?

How is a progressive blogger like me supposed to criticize unconstitutional GOP-proposed legislation when the highest elected official – a Democrat at that – is out there espousing to national media that he’ll ignore federal law and shoot wolves?

Triangulation at its best.

~~~~~
Newly elected Wyoming Governor Matthew Mead, a Republican, disagrees with Gov. Schweitzer:

“I think you have to be cautious about telling people to go break federal law,” said Mead, a former chief federal prosecutor for Wyoming.

Mead’s a good guy. If I had lived in Wyoming this last election, he’da had my vote.

by jhwygirl

2nd Grade Bike Rack has an interesting post.

HB198 has bi-partisan support both among the proposers and the the votes that moved it out of the House.

Shame. Shame. Shame. Shame. Shame.

by jhwygirl

Updated below.

I’m telling you Anderson Cooper, Chris Matthews, Lawrence O’Donnell and Rachel Maddow – there’s a wealth of material here in the Montana legislature for you. This one is just one example of scores of lunacy.

HB549, from newly-elected Rep. Joe Read of Ronan was heard today in the House Natural Resources committee. Testimony was interesting, to say the least will be heard tomorrow in the House Natural Resources committee. Committee member Rep. Mike Miller has corrected me on this one (Thanks Mike!)…and I’ll update this post in a few days with a link.

Let’s just let the legislation speak for itself:

global warming is beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana

What does one scientist have to say? Read it here.

Let’s just say that Read must hate the glaciers up in Glacier National Park (no money or jobs in tourism, right?) and he must love the bark beetle infestation sweeping western Montana.

But hey – all’s good, right?




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