Yesterday, I highlighted a number of good bills making their way through the 2019 Montana Legislature. But there is a slew of bad bills kicking around the Capitol halls and as promised, I’m posting some that really stick out. It pains me deeply to write that many are coming from one of my home county’s legislators, Rep. Brad Tschida. He’s also the house majority leader which tells you all you need to know about the current state of the Republican Party in Montana.
HB 323 (Tschida, R-Missoula) Limits the bargaining rights of public employees and goes even further than the recent Janus decision to undermine union organizing. Hearing is on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 8am in Room 172. It’s in the House Business and Labor Committee but there’ll be no executive action until Friday, so call, email, text all week.
HB 161 (Tschida) Would restrict any “social science, human dimensions, or people’s attitudes, opinions, or preferences in decision-making processes related to fish and wildlife.” The bill would also eliminate the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks employee who solicits public opinions and values. It has yet to voted on in the House FWP Committee.
HB 226 (Tschida) “Exempt certain shooting ranges from property taxation,” putting shooting ranges in the same category as churches. Huh? The bill is still in the House Taxation Committee.
There are a few beauties from Rep. Greg DeVries (R-Jefferson City):
HR 302 (DeVries) A constitutional amendment to “define a mutated zygote as a person.” (That’s my quote, by the way.) The actual language reads, “the word ‘person’ applies to all members of mankind at any stage of development, beginning at the stage of fertilization or conception, regardless of age, health, level of functioning, or condition of dependency.” It will be heard in House Judiciary on Thursday, Feb. 7, 8 a.m. in Room 137.
HR 303 (DeVries) ”Eliminating compulsory enrollment and attendance requirements and the need for attendance officers; allowing a child’s parent to determine the best educational setting for the child; reducing regulations on nonpublic schools and home schools.” There’s really nothing I can add to the absurdity of this bill. It was heard yesterday in House Education but no vote was taken.
LC 1631 (DeVries) “Provide tax credit for property taxes if no child enrolled in public schools.” This bill hasn’t been assigned a committee or an official bill number. Let’s hope it never makes it out of the draft stage. Perchance, does DeVries home school or have kids at the Christian Academy up the road?
There are plenty more bad bills but here are a couple of others that caught my eye:
There are two bills from the anti-vaccination folks — I call them the “Let’s Bring Polio Back” bills — SB 99 (Sen. Cary Smith, R-Billings) and SB 23 (Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell). And with a measles outbreak happening in the nearby state of Washington, these bills are particularly shortsighted. SB 23 passed the senate on a party line vote and is headed to the house. SB 99 is bottled up on the senate floor and probably dead, thank God.
The Flathead Memo’s James Conner has an excellent post on HB 148, a bill requiring a two-thirds vote to increase or create a new tax. To quote Conner, “Mandeville’s bill stands the principle of majority rule on its head. If a tax increased or created by a simple majority offends the voters, they can vote for new legislators in the next election.” (That would be Forrest Mandeville and he’s a Republican representative from Columbus.)
UPDATE: Two bills that I call “More Guns in More Places.” More fine bills by Sen. Regier, HB 325 would allow concealed weapons in bars, and we all know how well guns and alcohol mix. It would also restrict cities from passing their own gun ordinances. If that bill doesn’t make it through the legislature, or Gov. Steve Bullock vetoes it, Regier proposes a legislative referendum with the same language to go before Montana voters, HB 357. (Hat tip to Helena’s Frank Kromkowski.)
Finally, an update on Don Pogreba’s post about the absent Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R-Thompson Falls). This was in my email inbox from a Missoula legislator:
The Senate Fish & Game Committee met for just the second time Tuesday, January 2019. The delay between the first and second meetings was the result of Chairwoman Senator Jennifer Fielder’s week long vacation in Texas. In her absence, a total of sixteen bills stacked up.
Two Democratic caucus members, Senators Jill Cohenour and Tom Jacobsen, took time to note the chairwomen’s absence and voice concerns at the end of Tuesday’s hearing. Senator Cohenour inquired as to whether there would be ample time to adequately address all the outstanding bills with the appropriate amount of public input. She further stated that in past sessions, the committee has on occasion lasted until ten o’clock because of bill pileup. Fielder snapped back, claiming that she was offended by that suggestion. Fielder was also quick to interrupt Senator Jacobson who echoed Senator Cohenour’s concerns. The committee was promptly gaveled to a close by Senator Fielder.
Fielder represents Sanders, Mineral and a small section of Western Missoula County, hopefully not after the 2020 election.