I probably shouldn’t ask that question, although it could be all over tonight or really early Thursday morning. Legislators are burning the midnight oil waiting for a few remaining bills to come out of committee and make it to the house and senate floors.
“Special” is too kind a word for the session taking place in Helena. Abhorrent, repugnant, odious, heinous… It conjures up a plethora of big, bad vocabulary words.
A sampling: A tax on premiums for the two nonprofit health insurance companies serving Montana. Making the budget cuts permanent and furloughing state workers. Making life even harder for transgender Montanans. A private prison corporation bribing the legislature.
Judge for yourself.
Some of Montana’s best journalists are covering the event, many of them on digital platforms. There are also social media posts from the legislators who are involved in the sausage making. Below are quotes and links. First, Rep. Amanda Curtis (D-Butte):
Rep. Jessica Karjala (D-Billings) shares her opinion:
When Montanans are facing drastic $227 million cuts to services that are absolutely vital to the people of our state, how does the Montana Republican majority respond? They decide to spend more money on the special session to hate on a small group of vulnerable Montanans. When we are facing cost shifts to the county and city level what do the Montana Republicans do? Instead of focusing on solving our budget deficits they are playing identity politics. Again. Instead of focusing on how $26 million cut from services for those with mental health disabilities will harm vulnerable people they are forcing the continuation of a contract for an out of state, private prison corporation so that they can continue to commit human rights abuses and denying mental health care to people who desperately needed help. City and county tax payers will be left funding deficits in care and state tax payers will have to pay for the profit margins collected out of state while people who should be getting mental health care receive nothing.
And in terms of “solutions” they would rather cut things like earned income tax credits that help working families and furlough state employees earning more than $50K /year than tax capital gains or *reinstate* taxes on the wealthiest people in Montana. It is time to ask the Republicans who they are working for. How can they spend your tax dollars acting on behalf of the wealthiest, on behalf of corporations who chronically perpetrate human rights abuses and on behalf of hate groups while also cutting vital services for children, those with disabilities, the elderly. Let’s ask them how they can give lip service to addressing our mental health crisis, claiming to care about people with addiction and substance abuse problems, claiming to want want to address our suicide rates while cutting the services that help those folks and extending funding to an out of state corporation that harms these very same vulnerable populations. They are spending your money. Hold them accountable. Ask them about it. Click on a name and it will take you to an individual legislator page where you will find links to their contact information. Montana Legislature: Sessions
From Sen. Margie McDonald (D-Billings):
Montana Republicans apparently cannot resist any opportunity to persecute a tiny and embattled minority of transgender citizens, even when we have burning issues like a depleted fire fund, and our most vulnerable Montanans’ critical life-saving services on the chopping block: at risk infants and toddlers, frail elderly trying to maintain a shred of dignity and independence in their own homes, families with children with disabilities or autism, Big Sky Rx, …
Here are some links to journalists covering the session:
Another former capitol reporter for Lee, Mike Dennison, is at the MTN stations. This is his Facebook page. It can direct you to news stories at one of the MTN stations.
And former capitol reporter for the Great Falls Tribune, John S. Adams, is back at it at the Montana Free Press.
Read ’em and weep.