Legislative Roundup

Roger Koopman Should Not Be In Charge of Taxi Cabs

Rep. Ellie Hill of Missoula has proposed deregulation–not of energy, but of taxicabs.  Little did anyone know that the Public Service Commission is the branch of government that regulates taxis in Montana.  That is ludicrous.  If you’ve ever tried to get a cab in Missoula, you will know that Ms. Hill is on the right track here.  There is a government-granted monopoly in the city, and that needs to change.  Hill is trying to move authority over cab regulation from the PSC to the Montana Legislature.  After all, can anybody, Republican or Democrat, say that it’s a good thing that Roger Koopman is in charge of taxis?  The bill is LC1416.


GOP Voter Suppression Bill

The Repubs have wasted no time in trying to revive their bread-and-butter, old faithful favorite piece of legislation.  Representative Ted Washburn of Bozeman has introduced a bill (HB 30) to do away with election day registration. If Washburn were from Billings, he’d not be sponsoring this bill.  Voters waited on line several hours to vote in Billings in 2012, and if there had been no voting-day registration option, many would have been turned away after the long wait, even though they were lawfully qualified to vote.

Thankfully, Schweitzer vetoed the bill in 2011 and Bullock will almost certainly do so as well.  Funny enough, the GOP does not believe this type of shenanigans has any political repercussions, that you can brazenly make a legislative move to take away voters’ rights and voters won’t notice. But I think they do notice, and Democrats will remind them in 2014.  In fact, in 2014, Democratic volunteers should be walking the line of voters, explaining to the people waiting on the infernal line that the reason they have to wait so long, and waste half a day, is that the GOP likes it that way.

Although it’s not in the bill, Washburn told the committee he believes voting should be restricted to “driver’s license, the person that pays taxes in Montana, the person that actually resides here in Montana,” Chuck Johnson reported.  Meaning if he had his way, many seniors, students, the disabled, and the very poor would not get to vote.


The Ruling Class

Washburn wants to restrict voting to taxpaying residents, but another GOP legislator wants to expand voting to non-residents–non-resident property owners, that is.  Rep. Terry Murphy’s bill (SB 130) would let non-residents vote in municipal elections, including mill-levies, bonds, and candidates.

The Flathead County Commission tried a similar scheme in 2011 to decide who will control zoning in the outskirts of the city of Whitefish – the city, or the county with an “official survey.”  They sent surveys to all those who owned property in the area–some of whom didn’t actually reside in the area at all. Some people got multiple votes depending on how many properties they owned. If you resided in the area, but didn’t make enough to own property, well, you weren’t allowed to voice your opinion.  According to a citizens group who analyzed the survey results, “less than half, 47%, of the survey cards mailed out went to people who actually live in the two-mile area around Whitefish, while another 53% went to people who don’t even live in Whitefish.”


“Immigration Sanctuaries”

Speaking of stupid bills, the GOP has also revived the “immigration sanctuary bill” from 2011.  An immigration sanctuary, as best I can tell, is a state of affairs in which a local government refuses to order its policemen to go hunt for dark-skinned people and ask to see their passports.   This bill was vetoed last session and will be no doubt vetoed again as is it is utterly ridiculous.  HB 50 is sponsored by David Howard (R-Park City).


Many Novice Legislators

Chuck Johnson has an interesting piece about a tough fact: lots of newbies in the Montana Legislature.  Term limits have created a rookie majority, and several observations made in the Johnson piece are worthy of discussion and perhaps demand a re-examination of term limits.  A few of the points struck me as intriguing: that the legislative branch of government is weakened by a lack of institutional knowledge that once resided in veteran legislators; that the executive has been strengthened, because legislators must rely on executive-branch bureaucrats for policy expertise; and that reliance on lobbyists for legislative expertise has become excessive.   One wonders, looking back, whether Schweitzer’s successful bullying of the legislature was made easier by a weakening of the House and Senate by term limits, which eliminate veterans.


Reduce Size of House and Senate

Republican Jason Priest of Red Lodge has put in a bill to shrink the Montana legislature to 40 and 80 members, Senate and House respectively.   I don’t know what to make of this, although one can assume that if a right-wing Republican is introducing such a measure, it probably disadvantages Democrats in some way.  But here’s another idea:  How about a unicameral legislature, like Nebraska?  Actually, Nebraska has no party affiliation for members.   How’s that sound? 100 legislators, one house, all independents by law.



17 Comments on "Legislative Roundup"

  1. I favor reducing the house to 48 and the senate to 24 members, requiring annual sessions of unlimited length, and leaving elections as the only method of limiting how long elected officials serve. Those improvements (which never will be adopted) require amending Montana’s constitution. Priest’s proposed reduction did not.

  2. Property owners (now known as “makers”) may vote and riff-raff (known as “takers”) may not. Those takers do things like buy groceries, rent homes, and bank at the local credit union. Stupid unions. And damn them anyway. They and their nasty takin’ ways. If those takers are stepped on more, they’ll surely feel motivated to strive for that ol’ brass ring, yeah?

    Everyone wants prosperity, but I went several years in my twenties scrabbling from paycheck to meager paycheck. That kind of austerity felt exactly like scarcity, NOT prosperity. When will this legislature get it? Does no one remember lending rates and wages during the Reagan years?? We won’t starve our way outta this ‘un.

  3. As long as we’re contemplating sweeping changes, I suggest that the “Legislature,” instead of meeting every two years for ninety days, in the future meet every ninety years for two days. They’d screw up just as badly, I’m sure, but there would be a lot less stress in the interim.

  4. I’m also a fan of reducing the size and scope of the legislature. I don’t think they should be able to put referenda on the ballot. They should have to collect signatures like everyone else. They just use the referenda process to flout the governor’s veto. If the people truly want to put a law change on the ballot, we have to demonstrate that some 50-70 thousand people agree. But referenda only takes a simple majority of each house, and this legislature shows more every day that it is NOT listening to the voters.

  5. “After all, can anybody, Republican or Democrat, say that it’s a good thing that Roger Koopman is in charge of taxis? ”

    Of course not, but by that same logic the Public Service Commission would not be allowed to regulate anything, which is exactly how Roger would want it.

  6. HB108 – voter ID – was a real ‘gem’, disenfranchise veterans, military and supress voter participation and offered NO proof of voter fraud.

  7. The PSC also regulates the hauling of garbage too. You can not open a refuse hauling business without a PSC ok. And they only allocate so many refuse hauling licenses per county. So yes the PSC has a very wide role, wider then some people think.

  8. And as far as Roger Koopman I thought it was a bad idea to elect him to the PSC and it was not just me, and not just Democrats that thought that but also several Republicans as well, but the voters of his district elected him, now we all have to live with him for the next four years. As far as a unicameral legislature, I dont think that is ever going to happen, nor will Jason Priest get the legislture to shrink, hell Bob Kelleher basically spent fourty four years of his life trying to get a parlimentry democracy, and he basically failed. Other then he won a seat to the 1972 constitutional convention, and the 2008 Republican primary for U.S. Senate, he had no other wins. And he was on the ballot every year from 1964 till 2008. And he spent his own personal fortune in the matter and he had nothing to show for it at the end.

  9. Term limits are misguided. It also leaves the power and institutional knowledge in the hands of unelected veteran staffers and lobbyists.

  10. Norma Duffy @Ilikewoods | January 20, 2013 7:46 PM at 7:46 PM |

    Geez I leave for a 2 week business, and playday vacation and I come back home to find the GOP still Insulting the intelligence of their constituency, like two years prior. Kinda Sucks to see we haven’t gotten any smarter in the republican side of the Isle.

    The GOP mouthing off on Twitter, seem dumber too. why is it so hard for the right to hire a normal caring human?

  11. Your argument about Koopman makes no sense. If Hill proposes deregulation of taxi monopolies, that’s a good thing. But if Koopman wants to deregulate the taxis, then that’s bad?

    If the whole point is just to take a swipe at Koopman, you’re not even doing a good job.

    A taxi from the airport into Bozeman is $35 plus tip. A taxi owner in the area tried to get the PSC and John Vincent to grant him a license to compete, which was turned down. Your arguments here are really inconsistent, which probably just shows you meant more to take a swipe at somebody than make a coherant point.

  12. Also, regarding your point about people waiting in line on election day. People can register to vote at any time in many various ways and even mail in their ballot for up to 30 days before the election.

    Yet if we don’t want an already overloaded election judge pool to have to deal with same day registration it’s “disenfranchising” people? Why don’t you just admit that Dems need the least informed people and the loosest, easiest to defraud election requirements in place to get elected?

  13. Koopmanite, Koopman wants to put this taxi company out of business because it uses two hybrid cars, which he objects to because he considers green energy anti-freedom and anti-American.

    He also sees it as a way to grab more power for the PSC (odd that he wants it, given that he seems to be on the PSC only to obstruct its every move.

    The man is a moron and should not be a part of any public decision-making. Ever. So say the members of his own party.

    Carry on.

  14. Wow: Utah legislator wants a bill to prevent some video games sales to children.


  15. Why stop at the Taxi industry. Government monopolies, are not good, no matter who has the monopoly.

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