Archive for the ‘Montana Republicans’ Category

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.

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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

Aside from my own personal feelings on texting-while-driving regulations (texting only being pretty much unenforceable) the Montana GOP sent quite a message in the legislature on Friday, such that Senate Minority Leader Carol Williams at the end of the day called it “Black Friday” and “the absolute worst day of the legislative session.”

HB516 moves forward out of Senate Judiciary to a floor vote probably Monday. Amendments were made on Friday that aim it at ordinances only, leaving intact Bozeman’s equality resolution. (Search HB516 here for more background.)

The conservative attack on the budget was in full mode in Senate Finance Friday morning, and among the leaders speaking out against unnecessary cuts and a lack of priorities were the governor’s budget director David Ewer and Health & Human Services Director Anna Whiting-Sorrel. The message was loud and clear from Schweitzer’s office – and even Bloomberg Businessweek picked up the story.

There was more, and to be honest, I am ill-informed on the entirety of it all. As for the topic at hand, though…..

HB241, a bill that would make texting-while-driving illegal, with a $100 fine was postponed indefinitely on the floor of the Senate after passing Senate Judiciary on an 8-4 vote. The bill was proposed by Sen. Christine Kaufmann.

Match that up with the House Judiciary tabling Senator Tom Facey’s bill which would have taken Montana’s laws which make intercourse between two consenting people of the same sex illegal.

SB276 cleared the Republican-controlled Senate with a 49-1 vote.

That law is, btw, unconstitutional under the Montana Constitution….and it is also proudly part of the Montana Republican Party platform.

The Montana GOP is an embarrassment.

I wonder if the House Republicans have the guts to allow it to a floor blast vote.

If they don’t allow a floor blast vote, they’re cowards.

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

We’ve written a number of times about Havre Montana Representative Kristen Hansen’s pro-hate bill HB516.

In brief summary, the bill would nullify Bozeman and Missoula’s equality ordinances – Bozeman’s of which extended equal protections to all its employees and Missoula’s, a more extensive ordinance which extended equal protection to gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered individuals in the City of Missoula. It survived at least 3 attempts at recall petitions, and received overwhelming support from Missoula’s community when the hearing was held.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the Senate. More specifically, I don’t want to think about what’s going to happen in the Senate. The facts are that this is a hate bill and there is no overwhelming state interest at hand that requires the legislature to attack local government rule and authority.

It is also hate.

If the real issue were some conflict with the Montana Human Rights Act, then Hansen and the rest of the hate mongers out there that voted in approval of this thing in the house would be proposing a bill that added GBLT individuals to the protections under the Title 49.

That hypocrisy is exhibited by the fact that the same committee that approved HB516 also killed HB514 which would have extended equal protections under the Montana Human Rights Act.

In ridiculously transparent hypocrisy, House Judiciary members argued in favor for HB516 saying that GLBT individuals were already protected under Title 49’s Montana Human Rights Act while the very same people listed to testimony and voted against HB514.

HB514 also failed a blast motion on the floor.

Hypocrites.

Republican Representatives Steve Fitzpatrick (Great Falls),Steve Gibson (E. Helena), Brian Hoven (Great Falls), and Max Yates (Butte) split from their party – all voting against HB516 and in support of equality and local government control.

Fitzpatrick and Gibson stuck with their no votes on the blast motion for HB514.

The hearing for HB516 is Monday, March 14th at 3 p.m. in Room 405, Senate Local Government committee.

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 JC

Nice! Now let’s see him put it to work.

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?

by jhwygirl

Updated below.

First of all, a shout-out to the fabulous Helena bureau chief for CBS news (out of Great Falls) reporter Marnee Banks. I poached this pic right off of her yfrog account. Banks has been doing some great work, long before the session even began. I am a huge fan and have been trying to drum up a name for her, much as I’ve bestowed Supermontanareporter on John S. Adams. Goddess Bless her.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 show this evening featured a segment on birther bills, and grabbed up an interview with Montana’s Rep. Bob Wagner, a Republican out of Harrison.

Wagner’s SB205 was the bill he was bragging about.

I caught it on a tweet, “re-tweeted” it to make sure everyone knew..and guess what? Missed it. It was on within the first 25 minutes. So now I’ve set the Tivo and I’ll have to enjoy it later tonight or in the morning.

And we’ll definitely be checking back on CNN’s website to see what AC gets up on his site. Maybe someone will grab it up for YouTube.

In the meantime, one can only hope that Anderson Cooper comes back. He was talking about unconstitutional bills tonight – and SB254 would of fit the bill just fine – it provides for eminent domain authority over the federal government.

How’s that for both irony and hypocrisy from conservatives?

As for Anderson? Maybe he just didn’t want to dedicate the whole show to Montana. Arizona might get jealous.

But I’m sure we out-gun them in pro-gun laws. What do you want to bet?

~~~~
Oh. My. Goodness. Anderson Cooper 360 has video up.

Wagner hints enough at another lunacy bill – HB392, that “eliminates the misapplication of the 14th amendment to the US Constitution” by saying that you are only a citizen of Montana if you reside in Montana, are born in U.S. and at least one of your parents is a U.S. citizen – that Cooper points out to America that we’ve got that bill knocking around up in Helena too.

by Pete Talbot

In case you missed the guest column in today’s Missoulian, here’s the link.  I also reprinted it below the fold.

It’s a Valentine’s Day message asking “Where’s the love?” in the 2011 Montana Legislature. It’s written by Missoula City Councilwoman Pam Walzer and five other Montana women. I hope it ran in other newspapers around the state.

There’s not much to add. Well, there are a number of other lousy bills they could have pointed to but there’s only so much space in a newspaper.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

In this episode we refer you to Rep. Kristin Hansen (R-Havre) who introduced her pro-discrimination bill HB516 to the House with a first reading on Saturday.

A woman. How refreshing.

Hansen’s bill is designed to prohibit local government ordinances geared at promoting equality. It applies retroactively.

How’s that for conservative small-government? Jobs Jobs Jobs?

Rep. Hansen’s bill would violate the Montana Constitution along with the federal government’s based on current multiple Supreme Court precedents.

Will the GOP speak out to this hateful legislation? Isn’t there anything in this legislation that some true small-government privacy loving conservative doesn’t find offensive?

I do honestly make an effort to try and not lump all GOP together. It is becoming increasingly hard for me to do that. This is one bill where I certainly have an expectation for someone anyone in the GOP to come forward and speak out against this kind of hateful horrible legislation.

Certainly there are a few of you Republicans that think this sort of thing is wrong?

Failing that, it makes it hard not to lump ’em all together. There are dangerous ideas here that need confronted. This is one of them.

As for Rep. Kristen Hansen? You can bet she’s no lawyer (but she’ll be able to play one here in the State of Montana if she wishes after this session, if the GOP get’s their wishes.)

Both Missoula and Bozeman have passed local ordinances geared at protecting and promoting equality in their respective communities. This bill is a direct slap at these communities…and it is also a slap at any other community that may want to embrace a message of acceptance for their citizens.

by jhwygirl

Sunday’s Missoulian has an article reporting the budget issues facing Missoula County Public Schools and how decisions being made in the legislature are impacting their ability to determine structure for next year’s school year.

It isn’t just Missoula County that is facing these questions. Citizens across the state are likely to get the same answers from their own local school administration.

It’s a scary time up there – the storm metaphor used by Jamie Kelly is perfect – and frankly, it’s hard not to believe that the sole purpose of the insanity of bills up there is to dismantle state government to a state of utter chaos and costly lawsuits with both citizens and the federal government.

These days when I think of this, I ponder whether the GOP in the senate will attempt to save the State and their own party in the process.

It isn’t just the 5% across-the-board cuts that parents and educators should be watching. Tomorrow, Rep. James Knox’s HB397 will have a hearing in House Taxation.

HB397 will provide a tax credit for school choice and home schooling.

Here’s a bill in House Taxation having public hearing without the public seeing a fiscal note on the thing. Who in the hell is running the show up there?

Wait.

Never mind.

by Pete Talbot

According to my informed sources (as opposed to my uninformed sources) Missoula Ward One Councilor Dave Strohmaier will throw his hat into the congressional race for Montana’s sole U.S. Representative.

I’ll let Dave make the announcement himself but one source said, “(he’s) getting very close to making a decision to launch a campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.”

This is a good thing. The more the merrier, IMHO. May the cream rise to the top.

And then we need to work our butts off for whomever wins the primary and takes on Steve Daines (or anyone like him).

by jhwygirl

They’re coming – and we’re all dying. You can’t avoid dying. You might want to hold on clinging to life from a drip tube, rotting in your own flesh as cancer rots you inside….but the future is coming and includes you dying. One way or the other.

Eventually folks – and I’m speaking to the faux conservatives up there in Helena that professed that this legislative session would be all about jobs jobs jobs but all they’ve been doing is meddling between me and my doctor’s office and my own private body and concerning themselves with who I marry and what happens in bedrooms across the state between consenting adults – you xenophobes up there will be outnumbered.

Them’s simply the facts.

Frankly, from what I see in testimony up there in Helena, you really are outnumbered. Now, that doesn’t mean the mob of citizens up there testifying is right, but it should be cause for some self-reflection.

Anyone hear what Jenna Bush had to say lately?

This is our future. Zach Wahls is a 19 year old, testifying in front of an Iowa legislative hearing on January 31, 2011:

On the other end of the age spectrum is one of my favorite bloggers, a senior chic who uses the name Helen Pilpot over at Margaret’s and Helen’s (link on right). She’s wise enough and has been around long enough that she really does legitimately get to just spit it out to the Tea Party people of the world: Grow up – Shit Happens.

I hate to even call ’em conservatives – I’d like to think that there really are a few true conservatives or Libertarians up there in Helena – but that group up there is approving and looking at some utterly ridiculous stuff. Today I saw a hearing where law enforcement officers and social service agencies and attorneys got up in opposition to a law that would effectively eliminate the need to obtain a a concealed weapons permit. During the Q&A, wanna know who all the tea partyiers asked for clarification? Gary Marbut. Not legal staff or law enforcement, but radical anti-government activist lobbyist Gary Marbut.

Marbut is so bad that I was told by someone in the NRA that even they don’t really like him.

And Marbut apparently doesn’t work with law enforcement much anymore when it comes to developing better laws and rules – heard that today in testimony, too.

Closing out that testimony was Krayton Kerns – HB271 is his bill – said something to this effect:

We’re not eliminating the concealed weapons permit. People can still go get one if they want – they just won’t have to.

So that is our legislature right now – a group of them are dragging knuckles back to pre-Tombstone days and flying in the face of their tea party pro-sheriff-is-the-ultimate-law-of-the-land mantra they all so seem to love.

In other words – more proof that they don’t make sense. There’s a lack of logic there that just plain is.

by jhwygirl

Capital reporter Mike Dennison is up with a story tonight on the Missoulian State Bureau’s request for a list of all legislators who have signed up for medical benefits – you know, those benefits paid for by state government?

For three weeks now he’s been waiting for a reply from Senate leadership (GOP) and Dennison is reporting that ” the Legislature has denied a request from the Missoulian State Bureau for the names, citing advice from its chief attorney that privacy rights overrule the public’s right to know the names of lawmakers signing up for the benefits.”

Them’s pretty strong words.

He goes on to write: “Jessica Sena, spokeswoman for Senate Republicans, said leadership had considered releasing the information, in response to the Missoulian State Bureau request, but that legal staff had advised that the disclosure would violate federal rules on privacy of medical information.”

I’m guessing that the legal staff he refers to there is not party-associated Republican legal staff.

And interwove in all there is a bill proposed by Sens. Anders Blewett of Great Falls and Kendall Van Dyk of Billings that would disclose which legislators who have signed up for medical benefits from the state.

128 of 150 legislators are signed up for medical benefits. 40 of which are using them to supplement their own benefits.

I’m far more interested in a legal opinion that is claiming some sort of medical confidentiality over the release of state expenditures? Where does the line stop there towards the right of the citizens to know?

Republicans in Helena want fuller micro-accounting transparency on the budget, yet they don’t want the citizens to know what they’re paying for?

No one’s asking for doctor bills or dental xrays.

Boy. Now, if I were Democratic leadership, I’d be releasing a list tomorrow morning of all the Democratic representatives that are taking health benefits. I’d include a huge thank you to the citizens of the state.

And in the meantime, maybe a citizen should appeal on the Attorney General on the whether there is some sort of privacy right involved here. While attorneys for all other agencies (and even county attorneys) work for the AG, the legislative side is an independent branch of government.

I’d sure like to know what Bullock has to say.

by Pete Talbot

I was chatting with a friend who’d just returned from Helena. On behalf of Planned Parenthood, she’d gone up there to meet with Missoula’s legislative delegation. It’s a constant battle at the Montana Legislature — allowing Montanans access to sex education and health care and birth control, and maintaining a woman’s right to choose.

All our area legislators were happy to meet with her. All but one: Champ Edmunds, Republican from House District 100. He just flat out refused to meet with her and her contingent of Planned Parenthood board members, progressive clergy and concerned citizens.

When I mentioned this to another area legislator, she was aghast. You may not agree with all of your constituents, she said, but you still meet with them. You listen to them and then say something pithy like, “Thank you for coming and I appreciate your efforts but we’ll have to agree to disagree.”

But not Champ. He won’t even meet with the folks from his home town. Apparently, they finally cornered him in the hallway. Here’s a synopsis from my friend:

He did hear us out in the end, but he didn’t give us much time. His statements can be summarized as follows: he’ll support anything that is pre-conception (education and birth control), but once a woman is pregnant, she just has to tough it out for nine months and give the kid up for adoption. I would be surprised, however, if he does actually support any of the bills that provide support/access/money to women/teens for education and birth control.

I, too, would be surprised if Champ supported any kind of legislation allowing birth control, reproductive education or health care. It’s not his style. I’ll say it again: Champ is a chump.

by Pete Talbot

Bob Brown is a moderate Republican. He ran against Gov. Brian Schweitzer in 2004 but on the heels of Gov. Judy Martz’ abysmal Republican administration, he lost. Before that he served as Montana Secretary of State, and in the state legislature for close to 26 years.

He has a reasoned guest column in the Missoulian. He says that Montana legislators shouldn’t be packing heat in the state Capitol and that 30-round clips should be illegal. This from a card-carrying member of the NRA, a hunter and the owner of a boatload of guns.

His arguments against pistol packing legislators and 30-round clips make sense. But making sense isn’t the strong suit of Republican legislators this session. Republicans said that jobs and the economy were the #1 priority in 2011, but instead they’re more interested in making county sheriffs the last word in law enforcement (SB 114), repealing Montana’s renewable energy standards (HB 244), halting a patient’s right to die with dignity (SB 116), increasing the burden — reducing the size — of the Montana Supreme Court (HB 245), stemming our overwhelming illegal immigration problem (HB 178), calling on the US to withdraw from the UN (SJ 2), prohibiting public employees from serving in the legislature (HB 145) … well, it’s a long list of pedantic bills.

It’s a damn shame that the state’s Republican Party has thrown the likes of Bob Brown under the bus.

by Pete Talbot

There’s a reason why we have two sets of laws for criminal activity: one for adults and one for kids. As I understand it, adults have a better understanding of right and wrong, and need to be held accountable for their actions. Kids, on the other hand, don’t have quite as developed a sense of the consequences of their actions.

That’s why we don’t straddle kids with the same sentences that are handed down to adults. It’s why, if a kid keeps his or her nose clean after committing a crime in their youth, we tend to expunge their records. That way, maybe the kid can grow up to have a productive life without the stigma of a criminal record.

Rep. Janna Taylor (R-Dayton) wants 16-and 17-year-olds convicted of vehicular homicide while under the influence to do hard time — say, 30 years in the state pen.

Granted, Montana has a serious DUI problem. The legislature has a number of bills in the hopper that will address this issue but this particular bill is as bad as it is ineffective:

“It is very questionable whether laws like these would have a deterrent effect,” said Niki Zupanic of the ACLU of Montana. “We are now piling on more and more crimes and pushing more and more juveniles into an adult corrections system.”

Just another example of compassionate conservatism: instead of educating our kids to the dangers of driving impaired, wait until they’ve killed somebody, send them to Deer Lodge and then throw away the key.





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