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In Which the Independent Record Writes Half of an Editorial

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Today, the Independent Record offered up an editorial they felt was so important that they placed it on the top of their front page. The editorial rightly calls out the Montana Legislature for removing the MT FWP’s authority to spend ” $849,000 for the Upland Game Bird Program, $10.6 million for Habitat Montana, $460,000 for bighorn sheep habitat and $345,000 for fishing access site acquisition”—all while continuing to ask hunters and anglers to continue paying for the fees associated with the program.

It’s a terrible bill for a number of reasons. It’s not only wrong to ask sportsmen and sportswomen to pay for programs that would no longer be implemented, but reducing funding for programs that increases access to fishing sites and restores habitat for birds and other animals is critical to maintain those populations. Both hunters and those who simply appreciate Montana’s incredible natural beauty would lose out were these programs to be defunded.

So kudos to the IR for calling out the short-sighted decision. There’s just one little problem. Unfortunately, the IR forgot to write half of the editorial—leaving out the crucial detail about the nature of the vote. Other than mentioning in passing that the sponsor of HB 403, Dave Hagstrom, is a Republican, the editorial ignores the fact that the House vote to end Fish, Wildlife, and Parks authority to spend the money was an almost straight party-line vote, with no Democrats voting to support the bill. In fact, despite the vote, the word “Republican” does not even appear in the piece.

When the IR opens with the question “If the Legislature no longer wants to invest in the key habitat and access programs that are so important to Montana’s sporting community,” they’re simply not telling the whole story. It’s not the Montana Legislature that wants to defund these programs; it is the same Republican Party that wants to sell public lands that wants to end programs to manage and acquire more habitat for outdoor opportunities.

It’s encouraging to see the IR criticize another terrible decision by the Legislature, but it’s entirely unfair—not to mention inaccurate—for them to fail to mention that this decision, like so many coming from the House, is the decision of one party who gives lip service to our outdoor heritage while working to undermine it at almost every opportunity.

I’m not sure that the House Republicans can do better, but the IR certainly can.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we\'d certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

8 Comments

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  • They wrote half an editorial, and you wrote half the story Pogie –

    How come you didn’t mention Gov B.S. wasting the Habitat money to buy his neighbors ranch, which some estimates say wasn’t worth half what WE paid for it, has no fishing on it, and very spotty Elk hunting, all without legislative oversight.

    It’s no surprise the legislature put a lid on the ‘cookie jar’ to prevent it from happening again.

  • look on the bright side, maybe the MT papers will do Democrats a favor by not reporting on their support of taxing poor people to partially expand Medicaid.

    • I’ve largely ignored the argument that the compromise bill is worse for the poor because of the imposition of a tax because I don’t think it’s a very good one, but do you honestly believe it would be better not to do anything to expand health care coverage for the poor in Montana?

      Given the political reality of the Legislature, there was no way the clean bill was going to pass. No way. To get enough Republican support to pass it, the Democrats had to include those provisions. Would you really have preferred they do nothing for two years rather than accept those admittedly unpleasant provisions?

      • we will see what the next two years bring. I think the degree of celebrating I’ve seen on Twitter is a bit premature. there absolutely will be Montanans negatively affected by this legislation. maybe you can ignore that to. the Democratic party is good at ignoring poor people.

        GO HILLARY!

        • Yeah, because this is about Hillary Clinton. Well argued.

          Do you really think the poor in Montana would be better served with two more years of no health insurance rather than this bill? Unless I am wrong–and the Legislature was going to pass the more liberal bill, those are the two choices: no insurance or this bill that does impose a regrettable tax.

          Would the former really be better?

          • around 30,000 will still have no access, still balloon costs at the ER. and the partial expansion is on the backs of over 160,000 current “program participants”. isn’t the added administrative costs around 11 million? I think there is an argument to be made that this bill causes more harm than good. you can ignore that argument, and the consequences of this legislation, but there could be a political price to pay. I don’t think campaigning on taxing the poor to cover half the uninsured will be very successful. luckily I doubt the media will frame it like that.

  • I have been up there more in Helena then I wanted to this year already. And I can tell you with absolute truthfulness, that the majorty of the GOP party has been bought off by corporations and no Longer care about Montanas pristine nature anymore.

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