A collection of some of the best reads from, about, and near Montana.
Prairie Lights: Op-ed defense of Daines aims low, falls flat–Did Essmann have anything to say about that? Not that I know of, but in the last paragraph of his op-ed he wrote: “We need leadership in Washington. … Montanans and Americans voted for that leadership in November.”If the middle-schooler-in-chief is the kind of leader people wanted, and, seeing him in action, continue to want, a little indecorum on the floor of the Senate would seem to be the least of our worries. Last Best News
MISSOULIAN EDITORIAL: Gun bills need more good sense–Unfortunately, that common sense is not evident in some of the gun legislation being forwarded in the Montana Legislature this session. Bills to allow firearms in public schools, the state Capitol and federal buildings are overzealous at best and dangerous for certain. Even more bafflingly, some of them also aim to overpower federal law and pre-empt local regulations. missoulian.com
Did Ryan Zinke go AWOL?–Ryan Zinke has been waiting weeks for the U.S. Senate to vote on his appointment as Secretary of the Interior. With two cabinet nominees in the queue ahead of him, and the Senate days away from a week-long break, the wait for confirmation could last into early March. In the meantime, Montana's sole voice in the House of Representatives appears to have gone AWOL. Missoula News
Guest Blog: SNAP Supports a Strong Montana | Montana Budget and Policy Center–Please speak out against harmful changes to SNAP. Let our lawmakers know that SNAP is one of our most effective and efficient public programs. It is quietly providing dignity and opportunity for thousands of Montanans when they need it most. Denying individuals the ability to access food assistance would have long terms costs on our nation’s health and productivity that are far greater than any immediate budget savings. www.montanabudget.org
Garner’s 8-cent gas tax increase is only half of inflation loss–I take no position on whether Garner’s proposed tax increase should be adopted (at The Western Word, J.M. Brown does). But I do take note that although going a quarter-century without adjusting a fuel tax rate may be popular politically, it generally is not wise governance. There’s a good case for automatically adjusting the tax rate for inflation, but Garner’s bill does not include an indexing mechanism. www.flatheadmemo.com
The Commish: He’s Back–The last time Christian headed up a search committee for anything having to do with the University System, he was a member the Board of Regents. That committee was tasked with picking a new Commissioner of Higher Education when Sheila Stearns announced her retirement in 2011.The position was never advertised.His committee recommended him. www.logicosity.com
A Radical’s Wish List–But if Representative Kerry White has his way, these special places would all be put at risk.A leading proponent of the scheme to transfer and privatize public lands across Montana, White introduced a joint resolution (HJ9) this morning calling for the release of our state’s most prized wilderness study areas. If that occurred, the Hyalite-Porcupine-Buffalo Horn, West Pioneer, Blue Joint, Sapphire, Ten Lakes, Middle Fork Judith, and Big Snowies Wilderness Study Areas would all become vulnerable to development. Years of collaborative work by Montanans to help shape the future of these areas would also be laid to waste. wildmontana.org
Skees-zy Money–Time has passed and Skees believes he can skate away from his involvement in the same dark money scandals that toppled Wittich and other lawmakers. But one has to find it especially rich that the legislator who survived all of that by keeping his name out of the mix is now the one bringing forward a law that would basically allow him to avoid detection for years to come. He did so in committee while impugning the dignity of other representatives and wearing an American flag tie. He later defended it on the house floor with same sense of patriotic duty and claims to represent the spirit of our founding fathers. mtcowgirl.com
What a bipartisan solution to climate change might look like–Science denial is killing us, and one party is responsible for it. Bipartisan solutions that serve the interests of liberals, conservatives, and all people exist. Reasonable people could agree on them. preservethebeartoothfront.com
The Wednesday Read: Flynn, Zinke, & Guns–Meanwhile, Montana is getting screwed.
Zinke has missed many votes in the U.S. House this congress. According to the website GovTrack.us, as of this morning, Zinke has missed 73 of 92 votes in the U.S. House or about 79%.
He’s still being well-paid to do the job as Montana’s U.S. Representative, too. thewesternword.com