There are some decent bills that might make it to the governor’s desk, but not many

Photo by Don Pogreba

I wrapped up my last Montana Legislature post on a downbeat.

Let’s face it, any really forward-thinking, progressive bills won’t make it out of committee or off the floor, but I’ll write about some of the decent bills that are still wending their way through the Capitol in a future post.”

And here are some of them with most, but not all, gleaned from the Progressive Caucus:

Sen. Diane Sands’ SB 289 to “provide safe harbor for pregnant women seeking assistance for substance abuse” looks like it will make it to the governor’s desk to be signed.

Sen. Mary McNally’s SB 245 to “establish commercial property assessed clean energy program” which is a step in the right direction in establishing energy conservation practices.

Rep. Rae Peppers’ HB 21, “Hanna’s Act,” would basically coordinate all law enforcement agencies, and particularly federal branches, investigating missing Indigenous women.

Rep. Jessica Karjala’s HB 414, informally known as “the lunch shaming act,” would keep kids from being stigmatized for not being able to pay for their school lunches.

Rep. Karjala has two other bills: HB 696, funding suicide prevention, and HB 677, requiring corporations and LLCs to disclose beneficial owners. (A side note on the last bill: when I was visiting Billings a few weeks ago, a number of “massage” parlors were pointed out to me. You know, the type that Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft likes to frequent. The problem with shutting them down is there is no identified owner — usually some small-time employee and as often as not, just a trafficked immigrant sitting behind the counter — so no one to really prosecute.)

Rep. Jade Bahr’s HB 498 would allow parolees and probationers the same access to medical marijuana as the rest of us.

We need to celebrate the small victories and by all means, call, text or email legislators to advance the good ones and bury the bad. Here’s the Capitol phone number: 406-444-4800.

And there are still plenty of the bad. Worried about climate change? Except for the moderate conservation measure mentioned above — SB 245 — the Montana GOP doesn’t seem to care. Here are some of the MT Senate committee hijinks as reported by Missoula’s Sen. Dick Barrett:

The Senate Energy Committee today (Saturday, March 23) tabled SB 189, my bill to impose a $10/ton tax on carbon emissions from electrical generating facilities, meaning, mostly, the coal fired power plants at Colstrip. Not surprising, really, given the flood of bills we have seen intended to stave off the inevitable and keep Colstrip going on life support for as long as possible.

But what was surprising was that the chairman of the committee, Duane Ankney (R, Colstrip) didn’t even recognize me for the purpose of moving my own bill. Instead, he recognized the vice chairman, Jason Small (R, Busby), who moved to table, and the bill went down on a party line vote.

This is the third climate related bill that the committee has rejected. essentially peremptorily and without any real consideration.

Table motions are non-debatable, so the Republicans on the committee spared themselves from having to hear, one more time, about climate change and the importance of reducing emissions. They were able, one more time, to avoid having to justify their indifference to the most critical problem facing the world. They were able, one more time, to spare themselves from having to make their half baked claims that climate change isn’t happening, or that coal is “clean.”

Is there any hope that Republicans in Helena or Washington will face up to the reality of what is happening before it’s too late?

And folks wonder why I disparage the majority party at the 2019 Montana Legislature.



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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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  • Thanks for trying, Pete. Of course, addressing climate change is my highest priority. Perhaps some of the cataclysmic weather events that will happen in Montana in the coming years will make believers out of them. If they aren’t killed in a tornado, a flood, or a wildfire first.

  • Sadly, the majority of members of the Republican party in our state legislature INVITE disparagement, simply because nearly every bill or resolution they put up is designed to hurt ordinary working Montanans in some way.

    Republican policies and laws are Regressive.

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