GOP Makes Rules to Deny Public Access to Legislature, Consolidate Power with TEA Party Leaders

Yesterday, apparently outside of the scrutiny of the Montana press, TEA Partiers in the Montana House passed a series of rules consolidating power with hard right leaders and stamping out any dying embers of even the pretense of cooperation with moderate or the minority.

First, apparently miffed by their inability to hold secret caucus meetings in hotel basements without public scrutiny, the GOP leadership sought to create what TEA Party Rep. Art Wittich called a “refuge” to talk with other legislators without the public present. (Wittich faces removal from office for his role in the meth house scandal.)

They passed a rule actually rule banning the public from the house floor 24 hours a day – 7 says a week. In the past the public was not allowed on the house floor two hours before and after a floor session, but at all other hours were able to come to speak with legislators.

TEA Party house Majority Leader Keith Regier (R-Kalispell) led the fight against democratic Rep Tom Woods’ (D-Bozeman) attempt to amend the GOP rule to restrict lobbyists but retain access for citizens.

The house rules committee also demoted all minority vice chairs in the house to “ranking members” – eliminating even a presence of bipartisan cooperation. The move ads to a recent outbreak of TEA Party chest thumping to say “WE are in charge.”

Essmann said the demotions were justified because this is how the historically inept and most unpopular institution in America, the US Congress does it.

But the worst rule change of the day came from TEA Party Majority Whip Rep. Greg Hertz (R-Polson) who introduced a rule change to further consolidate more power in one man, TEA Party of the speaker of the House, Rep Austin Knudson (R-Culbertson).

The new rule makes it virtually impossible for the legislature as a whole to vote to override the decision of the speaker’s to send bills to appropriations to be  killed.  In th east, a majority vote (51 legislators) could overturn the speaker’s decision to send bills to appropriations.  The GOPers on the committee voted to change the threshold to 3/5 The GOP frequently uses the appropriation committee as a way to put bills through further hurdles and kill the bill.

The rules changes were resisted at every opportunity by House Minority Leader Rep. Chuck Hunter (D-Helena), Rep. Kim Dudik (D-Missoula), Rep. Kathleen Williams (D-Bozeman) and Rep. Tom Woods (D-Bozeman). The new public access restrictions and power consolidation rules will next move to the full house of representatives who are expected to adopt them on the first day of the 2015 legislature.


15 Comments on "GOP Makes Rules to Deny Public Access to Legislature, Consolidate Power with TEA Party Leaders"

  1. Why does these supposed “public servants” appear to be fans of a dictatorship? Are they afraid that if the public they are supposed to represent actually knew what they were up to, they might face unpleasant questions? The Tea Baggers claim to be “patriots” but are the most unpatriotic people I know, opposed to democracy and freedom of speech.

  2. See! I wasn’t lying, they will try with all their might to destroy Democracy for corporations in the Next twp years. Hoping Steve Bullock Mounts an Offence. Debbie Barrett is one of the worst presidents for senate, I have seen. And more than willing to break the Rules of the senate as well. because she is termed out in 2 years.the perfect bag woman for Keith Regier and Art Wittich!

    • How do you write so much when you know so little about spelling and grammar?

      • I write on the run, Ya know, on my phone, Because I pay taxes and make a living……And I really don’t give a rats butt what you think. Hows that for an answer?? Please carry on being a grammar Nazi as my checks don’t change with your thought process, nor any other Con out there.

  3. This is just the ineveitable extension of the Tea Party’s (Ultra Right) gameplan. They hide both their contributors and their intentions during the election process and then once they have been elected using these tactics, they are now using their rule making authority by being part of the majority leadership to further prevent the public disclosure of their acts and intentions. It is indeed a sad day that has come to pass where we have turned our governance over to these most anti-government individuals. All hail Grover Norquist and his destroy government as we know itr mantra.

    • I think some of the blame goes to the voters who sent these authoritarian radicals to the legislature.

      • Or the lack of voters who think Mid-term elections are boring, takes to much from their TV watching and makes no difference in their dumb Ordinary lives. Yeah Dems I am talking to you!

        • ‘Bored apathy and dumb lives’ are significantly different from dissatisfaction and disdain for the process. When you accuse those suffering from the latter of lazily (‘dumbly’) engaging in the former, you generally piss them off, and make them even less likely to commit to voting in the next election. Good job, Norma. Soldier on …

      • Dear Cowgirl,
        Dear Mr. Conner,
        More than just some of the blame. You can’t get authoritarian in elected office unless the electorate lets you get away with it. Do us all a favor Mr. Conner, during this next session if possible, keep us informed about the number of bills Legislative Services declares unconstitutional BEFORE they make it to committee.

        John Marshall

    • I hope the Montana SENATE shows more maturity and DIGNITY for all. The ‘House of ILL REPUTE’ sadly
      in charge thanks to feckless, indifferent voters.

  4. These guys don’t care about what we the people think- they want as little opportunity for us to know what there are doing as possible- obviously these rules are intended to block eduction funding and mediciad expansion and the governors mental health reform package- also pre- school for 4 year olds. Shameful.

  5. Tea Party ‘hero’ Priest pleads GUILTY………so much for FAMILY VALUES, hah!!!!

  6. I agree with Mr. Connor. Whose at fault here? We pretty much knew what we were getting.

    As an “old-timer” I will always think one of the worst things that ever happened in this country
    was the repeal of the “equal time” rule which allowed opposing opinions to be voiced on the
    radio and tv. In the old days we got all of our news from Cronkite, Brinkley, etc. but now most
    Americans apparently get their “news” from Rush, Sean and other entertainers.

    A recent poll in the Wall Street Journal listed what most citizens in the U.S. WANT, but then they
    go out and VOTE for the very politicians who are against what they want. Voting does carry
    consequences and when you have folks who are by and large ignorant on the issues casting votes,
    this is what we end up with. In Montana, I’ve always been amused by the polls that show over 75%
    of its citizens favor strong conservation of our natural resources, but then they go out and elect
    politicians who could not care less for the natural environment.

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