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Could this special session get any worse?

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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:

Veteran capitol reporter Chuck Johnson, formerly with Lee Enterprises, can be found at The Last Best News and Missoula Current.

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.

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 would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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  • Can it get worse? Sure, Bullock can sign the prison extortion bill.

    —————–

    As Nathan Kosted isn’t allowing comments (or the blog is broken) on his bill slamming Zinke for his moccasins (gifted him by the Crow Tribe), I’ll drop a comment on it here (feel free to delete it if you want):

    Nathan, are you really going to exploit intra and inter-tribal politics to beat up on Zinke for his moccasins and #RockYourMocs? And are you going to exploit tribal activists vs. tribal business interests to beat up on Zinke?

    You accuse Zinke of appropriation, yet you are willing to exploit a native event — #RockYourMocs — to make a political point. I don’t know what is worse really.

    But what is really missing here is the plight of the Crow people who are suffering mightily at the loss of coal revenues to support tribal programs for everything from health care, to food to housing. Maybe the focus of an article about the relationship between D.C. politicians and tribes can occur that focuses on the real problem: how to replace critical funding for tribal programs and jobs when federal policies (like tackling climate change by reducing coal use) take a huge toll on those who can least afford it?

    Get real here. The problem isn’t Zinke’s exploiting his love for coal and the Crow tribe’s desperate desire for funds – that’s to be expected. It’s how to mitigate changing energy economies and their hugely adverse impacts on tribal members. Pitting inter and intra-tribal interests in an attempt to exploit Zinke’s obvious leverage over the Crow here is just plain stupid.

    — JC, writing from the Flathead Rez in solidarity with the Crow peoples suffering from generations of failed federal and state policies

      • Ah, just like the Missoulian and Lee Enterprises attempt to manage commenting by stifling anonymous comments. C’est la vie. You won’t see me following and commenting on the Montana Post (or any other blog) on Facebook. Don’t figure you guys will miss me there either.

        Nathan’s got a lot to learn about Montana politics and he can either man-up and take it where he dishes it, or be relegated to the dustbins of social media and the transitory nature of opinions and simple reactions.

        Of course, maybe that’s the appeal of Facebook, that it relies on transient shock value instead of the durability of an online published blog with comments. Facebook comments disappear into the stream of the cloud, never to be seen in a google search on a topic that returns only blog articles, and not the reactions to them on social media.

        • You’re reading way to much into Nathan’s experiment with Facebook, JC. I should let Nathan speak for himself since I’m clueless when it comes to traffic metrics and Facebook numbers v. website numbers, etc. Hell, I don’t even Tweet, although that seems to be what everyone else is doing. I know that this trial has nothing to do with “stifling anonymous comments.” I’ve also noticed that overall readership has gone up since The Montana Post has become more active on Facebook. And while the numbers game isn’t the driving force behind this site, it’s nice to be read.

        • Cool insight.

          If you can’t understand that the reason Lee and countless other sites have transitioned from allowing comments on their sites because of the toxic culture anonymous commenting has led to, I’m not sure how it can be better explained to you.

          And please grow up and stop saying things like “man up.” That’s sexist drivel and incredibly ironic given your refusal to post under your own name.

          And in the future, please remember the commenting guidelines. This isn’t the place for this comment.

          Thanks.

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