New revelations show Webb is more deeply mired in political embarrassment than we thought. Things are not looking good for one Roger Webb (R-TEA Billings) who we learned last week was convicted of poaching on private land for which he was fined and received a suspended jail sentence. Sen. Webb has broken trust with the people by behaving with direct and open disrespect for the laws of Montana.
Apparently, he doesn’t like the good people of the Mount Rushmore state very much either.
It isn’t clear what prompted Sen. Webb to send a letter to members of the South Dakota legislature, “out of the blue” to people of another state to lie about Montana’s Medicaid expansion, but he appears to have done just that. [screenshot from South Dakota Rep. John J. Wiik]
Yet in a letter dated June 1, 2016, Webb wrote to members of the South Dakota legislator Webb makes several claims about Montana’s law that are not factual, or indeed are not even a part of the bipartisan law. We must presume Webb has read the law, since he voted against it. And like all bills, it is posted on the MT legislature’s website. Since it passed and is now included in Montana law, it is also available on the internet for all to see, free of charge, even if you do not live in our state.
Webb claims that the Medicaid expansion law is “unenforceable” and that Montanan’s covered by the HELP Act do not have to pay premiums and copays. This is false. Montana is one of only a small handful of states that requires people to pay the maximum allowed by federal law – up to 5% of their incomes “out-of-pocket” in premiums and co-pays. (For a family of 3 who earn $24,000 a year, that’s $100 dollars a month, for example.)
Next Webb claims that “that people in Montana would have to work in order to get taxpayer funded benefits but the federal government rejected that.” Of course, that was never included in Montana’s law. Then there’s the fact that, Montana’s own Department of Labor and Industry checked and found that two-thirds of people covered already have jobs. Information from the Montana legislature’s website shows than 6,000 people have participated in the job assessment and training program already–contrary to Webb’s claim that “less than 1%” of those covered have done so.
To be sure, perhaps Webb made a typo and left a “0” off the end of that number, or maybe he is just really bad at math. That could explain why he tells our South Dakota neighbors that the new law will “create a budgetary hole that Montana will be forced to fill with tax cuts or spending hikes.”
I’m not sure how “tax cuts” fill holes, but I am pretty confident that South Dakota citizens are proficient enough at math to conclude that getting their own tax dollars back from the federal government to expand healthcare access to hard-working citizens is a pretty good deal. Especially since Montana’s own legislature has already found it has saved Montana more than $10 million dollars.
This isn’t the first time Webb has been caught not caring whether the things he says have any basis whatsoever in reality. He was caught last session claiming, on the record, that a bill he sponsored had nothing whatsoever to do with ALEC and was his own “brainchild” — yet public records show Webb directing legislative bill drafters to contact ALEC directly to get direction on the bill.
Unlike many states, Montana lacks an independent commission that regulates conduct of state legislators.
Both Roger Webb and his wife Peggy Webb are running for legislature in Billings. Roger for SD 23, Peggy for HD 43. The poaching conviction isn’t Roger Webb’s first encounter with the law. Webb’s career in the Montana Legislature is somewhat lackluster. E’s most known for having sponsored one of Montana’s infamous “nut job bills” –legislation that would have created a state militia and outfitted them with uniforms, SB 130, which was of course immediately voted down.