That’s the refrain I’ve heard or read throughout this legislative session.
And they’re not radical, far-left bills but common sense legislation. Some examples (courtesy Rep. Connie Keogh):
SB 355, a bill that would require net neutrality, basically keeping Internet companies from blocking or slowing down specific content or websites, or allowing providers to charge additional fees to access those sites. Verizon, T-Mobile, Charter and other providers lobbied big time against this bill. It died in committee by a 6-7 vote.
HB 668, a bill that would bring transparency to public service announcements rolled out by elected officials strictly for self-promotion. These PSAs seem to air the most right around election time. Hmm. It was tabled in committee.
SB 345, which would require the licensing of youth camps by the Department of Health and Human Services, setting minimum safety standards for camps. Rep. Keogh noted that Montana is “one of a handful of states” that has no licensing requirements. The bill died in committee.
Sen. Diane Sands previewed this legislative session at a Missoula County Democrats forum. “It’s all about the money,” she said. She’s mostly right. Revenue is needed to fund programs and Republicans are loathe to raise taxes, even on million-dollar second homes (HB 675) or capitol gains (HB 707), but they don’t mind tax giveaways for corporate tax havens (SB 141 and SB 142), oil and gas ventures (SB 28 and HB 691) and even shooting ranges (HB 226).
There’s also a culture, so it’s not all about taxes. Here are few other bills that died in committee and wouldn’t cost Montana citizens a penny: HB 414, a bill that would keep kids from being stigmatized if they can’t come up with lunch money; HB 605, a campaign finance reform bill; and anything that would rein in Montana’s major utility companies (HB 314, HB 437 and HB 438).
So what you’re often seeing is not just push back on bills that require revenue but any bill that has a Democratic sponsor and might: make a trapper check his/her traps on a daily basis (HB 287) or clamp down on human trafficking (HB 677), even a bill that would require apprentices to receive minimum wage and overtime pay (HB 570).
All committees are controlled by Republicans, by the way.