Posted: March 31, 2011 at 7:59 am

GOP Legislature Poised to Overturn Citizen Initiatives for First Time in State History

GOP Claimed to Support Will of Voters Before They Opposed It

FLIP: Before the election, GOP leadership claimed they supported ballot initiatives as the will of the voters.

Senate GOP Leader Jeff Essmann, speaks about the sanctity of the ballot initiative in support of CI-105

“At some point the voters of the state of Montana have to say enough is enough,” says Montana Senator Jeff Essman (R-Billings).

Essmann even offered the view that ballot initiatives should supercede the legislature.

“None of these bills have progressed in the legislature, the goal of the supporters of the initiative is to make sure that it just never happens,” Essman commented.

FLOP: Republicans are forcing through bills to overturn citizens initiatives against cyanide heap leach miningtobacco prevention, medical marijuana, and more.

If these bills pass, it will be the first time the Montana Legislature has voted to overturn a citizen-approved initiative in the state’s history.

23 comments

  1. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

    Democracy is tyranny, doncha you know? In fact, THAT is one of the core beliefs of the Teawankers. It’s part of their authoritarian mindset. There’s just too danged many hippies, enviros, atheists, libruls, minoritees, commies, and do-gooders, etc., to make logical, correct, corporate, godly decisions. I mean, the gubmint with the most inbreds guberns best! Hence, we get Birther Bob and Iman Essman to tell us just how we screwed up!

  2. Matt

    Oh man, such chutzpah. This is a clear indication that these people do not understand their jobs. They are here/there to represent Montanans who have clearly spoken on this issue. We are lucky in MT to have citizen initiatives, a little direct input is nice. And here they are stepping all over it.

  3. Buckminster

    Of course the general voter cannot be expected to know that the Higher-Ups have need for our slave labor, our pristine lands, our money, and of course, any say-so in governing our own lives. They want to tell us how they want it to be and then it’s, “Screw you, citizen.” That’s freedom.

  4. Alan8

    Over and over we see Republicans going against the will of the people.

    An obvious question is: How did all these Republicans get elected?

    We need to look at the voting machines provided by Diebold (and other Republican-owned companies) that use SECRET, PROPRIETARY SOFTWARE to count and report the votes.

    There have been REPEATED inconsistencies in the results of touch-screen voting, that favor Republicans, over the last ten years, in many states. Yet the government and the Democrats have been reluctant to investigate.

    THIS IS A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER TO OUR COUNTRY! Voting machines that don’t use open-source software should be ILLEGAL in America!

    • Rob Kailey

      Alan, regardless of whether your concerns about electronic voting are sound, they have little to do with what has happened in Montana. As has been well-documented all over this state, including right here on this blog, the ascendancy of the radical right in Montana is because of two things only. Either their constituents really do favor the crazy culture war they are waging on this state (Derek Skees, Wendy Warburton, Krayton Kerns …) or they lied their asses off about what they favor and what they would do if elected (James Knox, Jim Peterson, Bob Wagner, Debby Barrett, Alan Hale and yes, Democrat Larry Jent).

      • Moorcat

        I can’t speak to any of the others you mentioned, but Debby Barrett doesn’t get elected on a platform. She has been the solid Champion of the Monied ranchers and land owners here in Beaverhead county and will continue to get re-elected because no Republicans can compete and no Democrats stand much of a chance in this county. We are the largest county in Montana with one of the lowest populations and this county is solidly old school Republican. I doubt even the silly, bat shit crazy votes she gave this session will change anything as far as her getting elected. While Welborn is also a Republican, he is far more moderate than Debbie (Read – not bad shit crazy) and has – for the most part – done a better job than Debby did when she held the Representative office. Welborn will probably be challenged next year, but he easily won last year and will probably win again.

  5. montanafesto

    Overturning citizen’s initiatives sets a dangerous precedent. I would have more sympathy for the prohibition crowd if first a regulation bill failed. Obviously 15 or so other states, with many more on the way, are regulating the industry, why are Montana’s Republicans such lazy control freaks?

    Our youth is already largely apathetic politically, most of them don’t even vote- if we start overturning citizen’s initiatives, we confirm their assertion that their votes do not count. Not only that, but we send them a message that the only votes that actually matter are those that fit into the agenda of the majority party. If the citizens themselves were to overturn an initiative, I would feel differently.

  6. Farmboy

    Last year I volunteered my time and went out and collected signatures on I-161. And it made it to the voters of Montana and it passed. Now in this legislature we have had atleast half a dozen bills to either a overturn I-161 or b make it ineffective, and that is just one initiative. What gives with the attacks on all the initiatives that the Republican hard cores don’t like? And are they really too scared to put together a petition, get a comfortable pair of shoes, and go out and hit the pavement of Montana?

  7. Buckminster

    Comfortable shoes? Why does that eerily remind me of a remark by the late US Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz? Man, am I old!

  8. problembear

    if dems are smart they will draft a better medical marijuana citizens initiative for the 2012 election. made to order for getting out the young vote.

  9. cab

    republican=fascist

    Check out ALEC watch. These are the large corporations funding these right wing reactionary policies. Bank of America, State Farm, Geico, Citibank, big oil, the Koch brothers. See the list and boycott these businesses. Go to a credit union or small local bank. Pull your assets out of these too big to fail banks. The streets and the boycott are all that is left to us. It is obvious they want it all. No Unions, no collective bargaining, no social security, no minimum wage. Citizens United upheld by the fascist supreme court. The list is endless as to the wants of the rich and powerful.

  10. Chris Herz

    From the perspective of Blue State Maryland, if the citizens of Red State Montana wish to drink cyanide, more power to them!

  11. Captbobalou

    What’s disconcerting and disappointing to me are the Dem’s who voted to overturn these initiatives, (including Joe Sasso on the leech pit mining bill). It makes it difficult to paint a bright us/them picture.

  12. carol hacker

    Montanafesto, you say it so succinctly! It is frightening to realize how possible it is to negate the power of the ballot. This session of the Montana legislature is keeping pace with DC introducing inane bills that so misaddress the issues. Capitalism has gotten lost in corporatism.

    • montanafesto

      Thank you, carol. Saying anything succinctly is not my forté but I’ve been complaining about these guys every single day for months. Most in the GOP had had a focused agenda- no matter what we would have done, it wouldn’t have mattered because they weren’t really interested in improving the law. Besides the many years the legislature failed to act on this, there were plenty of opportunities to work on it this session- in between their quests to remove the United States from the UN, spear-hunting with the boys, brushing up on their cowboy code, or perhaps gold-panning, just in case the state is EVER able to return to the gold standard.

  13. Rozsa

    I hope they do it. There will be such blowback from Montanans. About the only thing that could turn this red state blue is a direct and obvious attack on democracy. Their sorry asses will be kicked all the way to the state line.

  14. Moorcat

    I am not so sure this is a dead issue. I actually see two things happening before this is truly dead.

    1) This still has to go before the good “gov”. I would like to think that he bought that branding iron for a reason rather than a publicity stunt but we will see. I don’t how he feels about this issue and he has strategically remained silent while it was being debated in the Senate. I guess I will know when everyone else knows.

    2) Assuming he signs it, I fully expect it to be challenged in court. Given the history of the Montana Supreme Court, and at least the words they have put to paper in making other decisions about citizen initiatives, I don’t think they will be too comfortable passing an outright repel of a citizen initiative. Look up the remarks made by the Justices when they saw the case involving the recall citizen initiative. While their decision did “soften” recall in Montana, they also recognised the importance of the initiative process – equating it to a constitutional right. Not sure how that will square with the legislature repealing a citizen initiative. I would love to see this before them, if for no other reason than I want to see how they come down on the issue.

    As far as those that use MM for pain reduction, I actually have a lot of sympathy for them. They got caught in the crossfire without doing anything to deserve it. As a person that occationally suffers a great deal of pain for a medical condition, I can relate. MM is not an option for me even if it was legal but I am also quite sure that if it was, it would be a hell of a lot less damaging to my body than the Codiene medication I do take.

  15. Lt. Col (Ret., Army) Rich Liebert

    ALEC deserves FULL scrutiny..their ‘minion’s help design our wonderful ‘de-reg’ debacle and facilited Enron’s ‘link’ to MT…
    When Koch Party legislators say the public ‘got it wrong’ on initiatives, I guess public made a HUGE mistake on electing them while their ‘minds clouded’…RECALL!!