Dan Brooks at the Missoula Indy has another great column criticizing Montana Republicans, especially Speaker Austin Knudsen, for refusing to expand Medicaid in Montana for the working poor. From the piece:
“Able-bodied people should be able to go out and get a job,” Knudsen said.
It was a remark so callous that it almost sounded honest. But Knudsen’s answer to theMissoulian was cynical and misleading. Medicaid expansion is for people who already have jobs. Most of the 70,000 Montanans who will get coverage if the legislature finally lets them already work. They work at jobs that don’t provide health insurance.
It’s worth noting, too, that as of 2011, Austin Knudsen had personally received over $700,000 in federal farm subsidies. Perhaps he should get a job instead.
James Conner at the Flathead Memo has a look at yet another Republican effort to protect my God-given liberty to drink science-free, bacteria-rich milk products:
Raw milk advocates also will attempt to frame the issue as one of personal liberty, as whether consumers should have the right to buy and consume anything and everything they want. If firearms were the subject, they would be arguing that they should be able to buy not only hunting rifles, but 155mm howitzers, .50 caliber machine guns, and Davy Crockett recoilless rifles with MK-54 atomic rounds.
The Montana Budget and Policy Center put together an impressive look at the county-by-county benefits of Medicaid expansion. You can see the result for your county here, but Lewis and Clark provides an instructive example of why expansion is such an obvious choice:
These additional dollars flowing on Main Street allow businesses to grow. Expanding Medicaid could add as many as 12,700 jobs annually and generate $4 billion in labor income in Montana in the first eight years. In Lewis and Clark County, expansion could add over 530 jobs and generate $23,093,000 in labor income annually. What starts as a small investment in Medicaid expansion actually triggers a chain reaction of economic development across our state.
The Cowgirl blog has a look at the nakedly political move by Yellowstone County Commissioners to endorse state-sanctioned religious bigotry by county workers who refuse to do their jobs and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples:
If the Yellowstone County Commissioners wish to express anti-gay beliefs, they should hang signs over their own places of business that read, “LBGT citizens not welcome here” and leave offices created to serve the public and funded by taxpayers out of it.
The Republicans in the Legislature managed to stay completely unfied for almost 48 hours, and Lee reporter Mike Dennison says that the split is likely to define the session:
We watched it emerge two years ago at the 2013 Legislature, as moderate Republicans teamed up with minority Democrats to pass the state budget, a major school funding rewrite and other items ultimately supported by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.
This time it took only a matter of days to spill messily out into the open, culminating in Thursday’s floor votes on the House rules, giving this same coalition more power to bring to the floor – and perhaps pass – bills that conservative Republicans have vowed to stop.
And Montana Street Fighter points out that the Republican leadership has so little trust for its moderates that it appointed conservative members to multiple committees that meet at the same time rather than giving moderates a voice:
A tipster inside the capitol brought something noteworthy to our attention today: the TEA party Republican leadership in the Montana Senate have stacked some of the chamber’s most important committees with the same few far right-wing legislators. The only problem? Many committees meet at the same time, meaning these senators will necessarily have to miss their committee meetings.