In committee room, in wood House seats,
No logic shall impede our feats.
Let those who live in Treasure State,
beware our record, it’s not that great.
-Oath of the MT GOP Corps
At some point in our lives Steve Martin explained to the world, “That a day without sunshine is like, well, night.” But with all the stumbling in the dark that’s happening, it could really be day fifty-four of the Montana Legislature or any day at all in the Montana House Judiciary Committee.
You may remember Pinehaven, the “Christian” childrens’ ranch that made Montana news worthy of a spot on AC360, was under threat of big, scary government regulation by HB236, which sought to require “certain” adolescent treatment programs to be regulated. There was a push by Representatives Ellie Hill and Jenny Eck to blast the bill to the house floor for a full hearing.
Where it failed, 52-45. (See how the vote broke down)
Reasoning behind the vote against the regulation was a discussion of religious freedom and protecting it from government intruding on the rights of Montana citizens. Break this down into simple terms and it goes something like this: The Montana GOP believes that the “freedoms” of an institution who claims religious affiliation and has been accused of the abuse of the children it was created to assist outweigh the impacts of protecting at-risk-young adults from becoming victims once again.
It’s hard to even fathom the kind of side-winding, bat-crap logic that it takes to get to a conclusion like that, but then you remember why the bill had to be blasted out of committee in the first place. Because it was tabled there. The House Judiciary committee tabled a bill. That was written to regulate an institution. Accused of abusing children.
But it’s not the first time that the House Judiciary made a decision that left the public questioning their understanding of what justice was. Let’s review some of their more…judicious decisions:
HB 104 – Prosecute pregnant women for crimes against unborn children passed
HB 237 – Address homelessness for those under Dept. of Corrections supervision tabled
HB 302 – Don’t let them take our guns passed
HB 285 – Criminalize leaving children under 8 unattended in motor vehicles tabled
HB 374 – Allowing standing legislators to intervene in certain civil matters passed
HB 269 – Criminalize assaulting healthcare or emergency medical personnel tabled
HB 304– Don’t let them take our guns: part 2 passed
HB 370 – Abolish the death penalty tabled
HB 205 – Don’t let them take our guns: the prequel passed
HB 432 – Revise laws in child abuse and neglect cases tabled
HB 391 – Parental notification for abortions: the re-mix of the prequel to part 1 of the original series passed
HB 543 – Creating a statewide child sexual abuse prevention campaign tabled
Looking back at the list of passes, failures, and tables it the floor vote today starts to make sense. It’s horrible. It’s wrong. But it shouldn’t be surprising.
For spouting family values, defense of freedoms, and protection from those out to cause us harm, the MT GOP and the House Judiciary Committee leave it pretty hard to believe that they’ll ever see the light.