Archive for the ‘Rick Laible’ Category

by jhwygirl

You betcha.

On Saturday, Sen. Rick Liable withdrew his request for SB314. One day, notably, after his piss-poor interview with editor Perry Backus of the Ravalli Republic.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that I was beaten by a newbee to this – and I’m happy to say it, really. Keep it up. So a hat tip goes out to the Editor over there at The Button Valley Bugle.

Public comment does make a difference.

by jhwygirl

The 61st Legislative session may not convene until Thursday, January 5th, but start-up tasks are being dispatched quickly, with committee assignment having been rolled out this past week.

With the state House split 50-50 and a Democratic governor, the Speaker of the House went to the Democratic party. Initially, Speaker Bob Bergren (Havre) said he was going to pick democrats for all committee assignments, but later relented, announcing that republicans would hold the chairs of 3 of 5 of the state house’s most powerful committees. Overall, committee chairs are split 50-50.

Locally, Missoulians have Rep. Michele Reinhardt (D) as vice-chair of the Business & Labor Committee; Robin Hamilton (D) as vice-chair of both the Education Committee and of Ethics; Dave McAlpin (D) as vice-chair of both Fish, Wildlife & Parks (Superior’s Gordon Hendrick (R) co-chairs this spot) and Legislative Administration; and Betsy Hands (D) vice-chair’s Local Government – and shares this seat with Victor’s Gary MacLaren (R).

Other notables with chairs are Mike Jopek (D – Whitefish) who is chairing Agriculture (where Julie French (D – Scobey) vice-chairs); Franke Wilmer (D – Bozeman) who chairs Ethics; Kendall Van Dyk (D – Billings) chairing Fish, Wildlife & Parks; JP Pomnichowski (D – Bozeman) vice-chairs Natural Resources; and Jill Cohenour (D – Helena) vice-chairs Taxation.

For a full list of committee assigns, check this link out.

In the Senate, there isn’t anything for Missoulians in terms of chair or vice-chair seats – the Senate’s 50 seats are controlled by 27 republicans – but committee assigns for local representation include Ron Erickson (D) on Taxation and Local Government and Energy & Telecommunications; Carolyn Squires (D) on State Administration and Business, Labor & Economic Affairs; Carol Williams (D) and Dave Wanzenried (D) on both Rules and Finance & Claims; Cliff Larsen (D) on Public Health, Welfare, and Safety and Judiciary and Agriculture, Livestock & Irrigation; and Wanzenried (again) on Natural Resources and Highways & Transportation.

Other notables to watch in the senate committees include Jonathan Windy Boy (D – Box Elder) in Business, Labor & Economic Affairs; Energy & Telecommunications includes Linda Moss (D – Billings) and Bob Hawks (D – Bozeman); Local Government includes Steve Gallus (D – Butte), Kim Gillan (D – Billings) and Jesse Laslovich (D – Anaconda); and Jim Keane (D – Butte) and Christine Kaufmann (D – Helena) on Natural Resources.

Another notable (as in WTH?! notable) is Rick Laible, who is chairing Education and Cultural Resources. Laible sponsored one education related bill in the 2007 session – SB 396 – in which he proposed to cut state funding support for schools by $84.5 million in FY 2008; $82.5 million in FY 2009; $80.7 million in FY 2010 and $79 million in FY 2011. It would have reduced general fund revenue by nearly $100 million in FY 2009 and FY 2010, while resulting in the need to hire two additional tax examiners for the Department of Revenue. It would have repealed county school transportation grants, quality educator payments and American Indian achievement gap payments.

A full listing of Senate committee assigns is here.

As an aside – The state Legislative Services Division is offering classes to the public to teach how to use the online Legislative Audit Workflow System (LAWS). While 2 sessions have already been held, there is one more being offered December 4th, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. For more information on that, click here.

The 2009 LAWS is already up and running. I’ll be putting the link over on the right, under Citizen’s Info.

by Jay Stevens 

State Sen. Rick Laible (R-Darby) has introduced a bill that would give Montana’s presidential electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote. According to Laible, the bill would make Montana and other sparsely populated states more relevant in the national election:

Republican Sen. Rick Laible and other supporters said the change would make Montana and other sparsely populated states more of a factor in presidential races and could increase voter turnout.

“This affirms what we all hear, which is one man, one woman, one vote,” Laible told the Senate State Administration Committee. “The electoral voting system doesn’t allow that.”

The bill has caused confusion, and why not? At a quick glance it looks like it has the potential to counter the will of the state’s voters, especially if the state prefers the candidate who loses the national popular vote. In practice, however, the bill actually gives more weight to Montanans’ votes and issues than the present system.

I actually wrote about this issue way back in March, when the idea got some exposure in The New Yorker.

According to the bill backers, under the current winner-take-all system, presidential candidates completely ignore all the states where it’s clear which candidate will win. After all, it doesn’t matter if 55 percent or 65 percent of Montanans vote for a candidate: the state’s electoral votes go to the candidate in either case. As a result, the presidential race – and subsequent national politics – is aimed at a handful of “battleground” purplish states – like Ohio and Florida – where the race could go either way.

According to the theory, the system discourages voter participation. Why go out and vote if you’re an Idaho liberal? Why go to the polls if you’re a California conservative? Your vote doesn’t matter.

If Montana and a number of other states pass bills that grant their state’s electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote, that all changes. Under the new system, with the Electoral College bypassed, it does matter if a candidate wins 55 percent or 65 percent of the vote in Montana. All the extra votes get added to the total and could help the candidate prevail in the popular vote.

There are, of course, nay-sayers who point to the nation’s republican structure, tout the process’ “protection” of small states. Which is all hogwash, naturally. Hertzberg:

There’s a traditional view that without the Electoral College Presidential campaigns would simply ignore the small states. It hasn’t worked that way. The real division that the Electoral College creates, in tandem with the winner-take-all rule, is not between large states and small states but between battleground states and what might be called spectator states. Of the thirteen least populous states, six are red, six are blue, and one—New Hampshire—is up for grabs. Guess which twelve Bush and Kerry stiffed and which one got plenty of love, long after the primary season? Size doesn’t matter. At the other end of the spectrum, the three biggest states—blue California, red Texas, and blue New York—were utterly ignored, except for purposes of fund-raising.

That is, the Electoral College doesn’t actually do what it’s supposed to. This won’t make a whit of difference with those that oppose the plan; the real fear here is that a popular referendum would put into power a politician whose politics they find abhorrent. Or worse: it would actually encourage more people to vote.

Personally, I shy away from positions that narrow the democratic process so that I can have my way politically.

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