Archive for Events
The 63rd Montana legislature has concluded, marking the end of a wild ride. There were some bumps along the road, including epic fights between Tea Party and moderate Republicans.
But at the end of the day, Democratic legislators were able to make progress on the issues that matter most to Montana.
Democrats from the beginning said that they came to Helena with the intention of working across party lines to pass legislation that would benefit veterans, small business, and families all across Montana.
And that’s exactly what they did, working together with some members on the other side of the aisle to pass legislation that reflects Montana values.
More from the The Billings Gazette:
“I really do think it’s the product of a lot of hard work, not only between both sides of the aisle, but also with the executive branch,” said Rep. Galen Hollenbaugh, D-Helena.
“By staying at the table and negotiating, we were able to find our way through a very long budget process. This house … has been the rock of showing folks how you can affect public policy, by talking with each other, by staying at the table.”
Since the beginning, the extremist leaders of the Republican legislature made it clear through leaked emails that their intention was to pass an out-of-touch agenda that puts special interests ahead of Montana’s best interests.
Democrats were able to find some partners on the other side of the aisle who had enough of the dark money-driven agenda the Republican leaders tried to impose on the legislature. Together, they delivered results for the people of Montana, including,
Bills that revise Montana’s state income tax, reduce property taxes for businesses, create a new $35 million fund for infrastructure projects in areas impacted by the oil-and-gas boom along the Montana-North Dakota border and fix the pension fund for teachers
Montana deserves a Legislative body that will pass laws that represent their values: less money in politics, taking care of veterans and workers who dedicate their careers to bettering the state of Montana, maintaining a healthy economic climate for small businesses, fund Montana’s premier public education system, and always putt Montana families first.
Those are the values Democratic legislators brought to the capitol, and they’re the same values they’ll bring to the campaign trail next year. Be sure to stay in touch, so you can help us elect candidates who will always put Montana first.
Last night, around 9pm, both the House and Senate of the 62nd Montana Legislature adjourned for the final time. After 88 days of unconstitutional, irresponsible, job-killing bills, it is finally over.
Both the Senate and House were able to pass the compromise budget that the Governor and legislative leaders agreed to last week. This proposal reinstates nearly all of the federal money that Republicans sought to reject and send to other states. In addition, it undid many of the irresponsible cuts Republicans made to many of the state’s vital services. Unfortunately, it still drastically cut from the Governor’s proposed budget, which already reduced state spending.
In addition, Republicans stuck to their guns and killed the best jobs bill of the session, the “bonding bill.” This bill is the only bill that is guaranteed to create jobs in the state. Republicans favored proposals that will give huge tax cuts to large out-of-state corporations, with the hope that they create jobs with the money, instead of pocketing it.
At a press conference today, Democrats expressed their disappointment with the way the legislature was run and the results of the Republicans’ partisan agenda. However, Democrats also stated that they were proud of the things they stood for–creating jobs, improving our education system and making sure we continue to have a beautiful state–and the values they fought for.
In addition, Senate Democratic Leader Carol Williams told stories of Republicans coming to her to express their dismay with the Republican actions in the legislature. Sen. Williams assured those in attendance that in 2013 Democrats would come back with larger numbers to fix the damage Republicans had done in 2011.
After just three days back in Helena, Republicans in the legislature are apparently ready for another spring break vacation. Today, they voted to take another taxpayer funded break–this time for five days.
This spring break vacation comes in the middle of budget negotiations with the Governor and with only 5 days left in the legislative session.
What makes this spring break vacation particularly egregious is the fact that they haven’t presented the Governor with a complete budget to review and make a decision on. They have only presented him with the main budget bill, but have not sent him the necessary companion bills for the budget. The most notable bill they haven’t sent to the Governor yet is the school funding bill.
Their failure to send a school funding bill to the Governor before skipping town not only leaves the Governor without a finished budget, it also leaves public schools in limbo. As these school attempt to plan for the upcoming year, they are forced to do so without knowing what their budget is for the upcoming school year.
The Governor has until Saturday to decide what to do with the incomplete budget that he currently has in his possession. The Governor has been tight-lipped about his plans for the budget, however all signs indicate that he is not pleased with the bill Republicans have presented to him.
As we enter the last six days of the legislative session, huge questions remain to be settled.
First and foremost is the status of the largest bill of the session and the only one legislators are constitutionally required to pass: The Budget. Republicans forced through their version of the budget last week and then skipped town as soon as it came to the Governor. The Governor has stated that the budget the GOP passed was unacceptable to him, because it didn’t meet the needs of Montanans. However, the Governor and legislative leadership have been meeting recently to discuss the budget.
In addition, there are several companion bills to the budget that must make it to the Governor. The most notable of these is the school funding bill. There have been several proposed school funding bills throughout the course of the session. Many of them would create new bureaucracy and would underfund our K-12 public education system. Democrats have been working hard to create a bill that would meet the needs of our students and the commitment we have to them.
Several other issues remain undecided as well, including the state employee pay plan and the “bonding bill.” With only 6 days left in the session, legislators are sure to be busy.
The Republicans in the legislature must be pretty proud of the work they’ve done over the last three and a half months–spear hunting, mandatory ultrasounds, removing funding for low-income heating assistance, nullifying federal laws, trying to switch the state to the gold standard, overturning voter initiatives, making it harder for Montanans to vote, restricting stream access and defending DUI laws–that’s the only explanation for the “Spring Break” they decided to give themselves over the next four days.
Yup, you read that correctly. They decided that they have worked hard enough and need a few days off. So they finished their floor sessions today and skipped town before finishing their work at the Capitol.
When the GOP was set to adjourn the Senate today, Senate Democratic Leader Carol Williams stood on the floor and implored the Republican leadership to not take this vacation and made it clear that the 22 Senate Democrats were ready and willing to stay and finish the people’s work. Unfortunately, Republicans wanted their “Spring Break” more than they wanted to do the people’s business, because they still adjourned for vacation.
Sen. Anders Blewett (D-Great Falls) later pointed out that Republican leader Sen. Peterson forgot about his own Code of the West bill. Sen. Blewett said, “Senator Peterson’s Code of the West, that the Senate passed today, says ‘finish what you started.’ I guess it doesn’t apply to the legislature. GOP leadership has wasted a lot of time and taxpayer money this session shotgunning unconsitutional bills. Now that it’s time to do some heavy lifting, they’re taking off for spring break.”