Author Archives: Cowgirl

TEA Party Lawmaker Caught Telling Whoppers About Sponsoring ALEC Bill

TEA Partier Testifies that his ALEC Bill Has Nothing to Do with ALEC, Public Records Show Otherwise

A TEA Party lawmaker with ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC has been caught coordinating with the organization on an ALEC model bill after claiming that the corporate bill mill had nothing to do with his legislation.

The bill in question is SB 314 a bill Sen. Roger Webb is sponsoring which would create an “Interstate pipeline compact.”  During a hearing on that bill, a witness pointed out that this was an ALEC boilerplate bill.  Senator Webb then testified on the record that this was not an ALEC bill, and that he did not know where this idea came from.  You can hear him say this by playing the audio clip below.

 

However, take a look at this image from the public bill drafting file known as the “junque” file. It’s a note on Senator Webb’s letterhead directing Sonja Nowakowski (the bill drafter) to call “ALEC.” More specifically, that she get in contact with “Carla,” an employee of ALEC who I have been told is ALEC’s international and federal relations representative.

IMG_0507

It’s not clear why Webb is suddenly trying to hide his ties to ALEC now, since in the past he has proudly endorsed pushing boilerplate bills on behalf of out-of-state corporations.  I don’t think this bill even had any proponents  – just Webb himself.

In a PBS expose on ALEC influence in the Montana Legislature (Brought to You by ALEC) a reporter tags  along with Webb, Wittich, and other Montana legislators to an ALEC conference.

The PBS expose includes some telling interviews with Webb, including at 7:05 minutes in, when Webb admits the bulk of ALEC’s revenue comes from corporate donors with a vested interest in the legislation they’re pushing.  He says this doesn’t bother him in the least, because to him ALEC funding this is no different than businesses supporting Girl Scouts and Little League – two organizations that, I would point out, lack the power to make state laws we all must abide by.

SB314 passed the senate floor today 28-22 with Sen. Tudvedt (R-Kalispell) joining the dems in opposition.

 

Sen. Driscoll to Receive 2015 Health Advocate for Compassionate Leadership Award

Tonight, Planned Parenthood of Montana is hosting an event featuring entertainment by Katie Goodman’s Broad Comedy. That even is tonight, March 5, in the Helena Great Northern Hotel Ballroom.

As a special highlight, Planned Parenthood will present the 2015 Health Advocate for Compassionate Leadership Award to Montana Senator Robyn Driscoll, honoring her exemplary support and service promoting health care in Montana. Sen. Driscoll is a fantastic legislator and this award is well-deserved. Last year, former Helena legislator Christine Kaufmann was presented the first annual award.

The event will run from 6-9pm and will include a no-host bar and hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, door prizes and a raffle. Individual tickets are available in advance by calling 406-422-1249 or at the door for $50. Student tickets are $20 (with student ID). Seating is first come/first served, but reserved tables of eight are available for $500.

Based in Bozeman, the nationally known Broad Comedy group is head-lined by Katie Goodman. Nominated for an EPIC Emerging Artists Award from The White House Project for changing the perceptions of women in the culture, Broad Comedy is full of energy, musical talent and wit. Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes describes them as, “feisty Broads,” who “attack the funny bone and skewer society with satire and song.” Playwright, performer and activist Eve Ensler calls the group “Fierce, female, fabulous and funny!”

As a leading women’s health care provider in the state, Planned Parenthood of Montana works every day to reduce unintended pregnancy and keep women healthy. An affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, PPMT operates health centers in Billings, Great Falls, Helena, and Missoula, as well as 4 rural, satellite locations across Montana. Planned Parenthood of Montana is the largest provider of family planning services in the state, providing reproductive health care on a sliding fee scale and responsible, comprehensive sexuality education to nearly 16,000 Montanans every year.

For more information about Broad Comedy, please go to:  www.katiegoodman.com. For more information about Planned Parenthood of Montana, go to: www.plannedparenthood.org/montana .

 

UPDATED: Loud and Clear

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what does this picture say TEA Party state Sen. Jennifer Fielder’s ties to out-of-state lobbying groups. Note the member of Fielder’s staff.  (He’s the guy wearing the official Legislative Aide badge staffing the American Lands Council booth.)  Note that this picture was taken on February 16, 2015, five days after Fielder’s staffer registered as a ALC’s lobbyist.

Note Fielder’s refusal to explain what was going on here.

unnamed

 

Note that another Senate GOP staffer of Sen. Debby Barrett (R-Dillon) recently deleted his entire twitter account after it was discovered that he tweeted this last week.

unnamed

Calling water rights for Native Americans “the great tragedy of the 2015 #mtleg” seems like a pretty racist statement.

It is not known if It is clear from this guy’s linkedin profile that the Senate staffer named Taylor Rose who tweeted this is the same Taylor Rose who was an agitator for European hard-right nationalist movements and was a writer for the online conspiracy site World Net Daily–the same Taylor Rose who wrote that the “secessionist movement needs more oxygen” –the same Taylor Rose whose Facebook page includes public support for Austria’s right-wing anti-immigrant party.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 9.53.46 PM

XphRIyJY.jpg-small

UPDATE:  Cowgirl tipsters have uncovered some of Rose’s beliefs and they are quite outside the mainstream.  As the Southern Law Poverty Center reports, Rose wrote that he believes

“the federal government has one thing in mind: the complete and total overhaul of the American liberty system and the destruction of all Christian, patriotic and elements of right-wing power in the United States.”

Rose also writes that the government plans to “eliminate” the Internet and redefine terrorism as “American Patriots, rather than jihadists.”

He has been tied to racist groups in the U.S. and Europe:

http://www.dialoginternational.com/dialog_international/2011/05/right-wing-cologne-freedom-march-a-bust.html

http://imagine2050.newcomm.org/2011/05/23/youth-for-western-civilization-gone-global/

Has written on such topics as “Forging Anglosphere Identity” and pines for a “future female rejection of the 1960s feminist and sexual revolutions.

He has also written a book describing his utopian ideal which he says will emerge from the “New World Order.”  I’ll probably skip this one after reading an excerpt from the summary:

However, despite their many successes over the preceding generations, on the old continent of Europe and in the United States the radical Leftist, post-modern philosophy has been discredited and is proving to be a failure as a worldview, as its tenants are completely at odds with the nature and desires of mankind and after almost 100 years of radical indoctrination in Europe and the United States of an anti-religious, anti-nationalist philosophy, all that post-modernists have to show for it are spiritual and intellectual hopelessness and an intellectual and spiritual vacuum created in the Western world.

In response to the consequential ideas, emanating from Hegelian and Marxist belief systems, the Western world is coming to realize the complete emptiness and harm of belief systems that are at their core, nihilistic. On a basic level, Men need hope to move forward.

 

GUEST POST: New poll shows Montanans support criminalizing the legislature by huge margins

by Anonymous

Welcome to the land of nutters, the Montana Legislature.

By a huge majority, Montanans support laws doing away with any pretense of reform and simply criminalizing the Montana Legislature, according to a poll released Wednesday.

While the poll reflects a relaxation of attitudes toward admitting that few if any good ideas arise from the process, it also suggests that many Montanans now view membership in the legislature as a problem decimating the Big Sky state.

Dora Harold, an volunteer who has spent years mobilizing support for the criminalization of the legislature, said that “this poll reinforces what many of us have been saying for a long time: the Montana Legislature destroys lives.”

Harold pointed to bills to gut workers rights, deny water to indians peoples, take food from needy seniors, and deny access to federal health care funding to people whose employers refuse health coverage.

“I’ve seen productive members of society get involved with the legislature and completely lose the will to work,” she said. “They just sit there, taking their free government health care checks, spouting nonsense, totally out of touch with reality.”

She noted that the once prevalent view that membership in the legislature was something “harmless” that the state “must endure” is now being discredited. “If you look at what happens to someone’s brain after one, two or~heaven help us~three sessions, it’s devastating,” she said. “There is severe impairment.”

Additionally, she warned that the legislature is a “gateway elective office” that leads many to try running for Montana’s lone U.S. house seat “and we see what happens then.  It’s not pretty.”

**For any conservative readers, this statement is intended to explain that the above post is satirical in nature.** 

 

GUEST POST: Protecting 2nd Amendment Goes Hand-in-Hand with Common Sense Measures that Keep Us All Safe

by Pamela Owen, Moms Demand Action

As a Montanan, wife of a gun owner, proud believer in Montana’s outdoor heritage, and a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, I cannot sit on the sidelines during this legislative session. Our elected leaders are considering a package of dangerous bills that would not only roll back our current, common-sense permitting requirements, but would also allow guns in sensitive places like bars and college campuses. These reckless bills tear at the fabric of our sensible gun laws. Instead of proposing laws that would make our families and communities safer, these bills’ sponsors would put us all at risk.

Numerous groups have spoken out against these bills, including the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, Montana Police Protective Association, Montana Human Rights Network, Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America.

You have to wonder: Considering the strong opposition, who is really pushing this agenda? We must speak out and makes e sure our voices are heard.

Let’s start with House Bill 298 and HB 533. Both bills would dismantle Montana’s current concealed carry permit system. If passed and signed into law, these pieces of legislation would allow individuals without any prior training and those who have been convicted of weapons offenses to carry concealed loaded handguns in public. There will also no longer be a way for law enforcement to prevent people who exhibited dangerous behavior from carrying loaded hidden guns in public. That means our communities—our streets, our malls, and our farmers’ markets—could be at risk. I believe Montana’s sheriffs know best when it comes to protecting the communities they serve. People should continue to receive firearm training before they carry concealed loaded handguns in public. It’s just common sense.

Next up we have SB 143. This bill would force public colleges and universities to allow the concealed carry of loaded handguns on campuses across our state. Currently, public colleges and universities have the authority to decide whether they want to allow guns on campus, but SB 143 would revoke their authority to make this very critical public safety decision. Our legislators are pushing this bill despite widespread opposition from the people who would be affected the most. Indeed, 78% of students, 95% of college presidents, and 89% of police chiefs reject campus carry.

Schools have consistently opted against campus carry, and it’s currently not allowed anywhere in the state. I would love my kids to attend the same college their parents did, but I won’t sacrifice their safety. College life is full of risk factors like alcohol and drug abuse. Our young people are making impulsive decisions, and we need to ensure that university officials have the tools to protect them.

We should also consider the financial implications of this bill. In the first year after Idaho passed similar legislation in 2014, the necessary security upgrades have cost $3.7 million for five Idaho schools. Our schools are routinely suffering from budget shortfalls, and should not be asked to shoulder this new expense.

Our elected leaders should support legislation that makes our families and communities safer—not laws that would put us at risk. Protecting our Second Amendment rights goes hand-in-hand with common sense measures that keep us all safe. As a mother, as a Montanan, as a community member, I ask you to raise your voice and speak out against these senseless bills.

To speak out against these dangerous bills, please click on the link below.

https://act.everytown.org/act/MT-house-judiciary-letter?source=fbns_share&utm_source=fb_n_&utm_medium=_s&utm_campaign=share

To learn more about Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, go to www.momsdemandaction.org.

 

Four Pinnocchios for Wittich on Child Support Claim

TEA Party Republican Art Wittich claims that he supports child support enforcement as a way to help families in need, but his voting record shows otherwise.

Dan Brooks wrote at the Missoula Independent recently that:

 

In January, Sen. Art Wittich, R–Belgrade, subpoenaed welfare workers to share anecdotes about fraud before the Health and Human Services Committee. Weeks later, Rep. Tom Burnett, R–Bozeman, told colleagues on his own HHS committee that welfare recipients need to go to church and eat “with others, at a table, not on the couch.” Shortly thereafter, the House passed HB 200, requiring people who receive federally funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, to take monthly drug tests.

Clearly, Republicans in Helena believe we’re spending too much money on welfare. But if they’re serious about getting people off government assistance, they should look for better ways to enforce child support.

TEA Party Republican Art Wittich said he agreed.  He tweeted that:

“Our focus wasn’t on welfare Moms, but DPHHS management and reform. We should look into Deadbeat Dads too.”

IMG_4420
But what Wittich is hoping none of us find out is that he and 22 of his fellow TEA partiers actually voted to end Montana’s child support program entirely. On March 21, and 23, they voted against HB 227.  Testimony on that bill from the house floor and in committee included the fact that this bill,  if not passed, would end Montana’s entire child support and Temporary Aid for Needy Families programs.  The bill adopts an agreement for international child support enforcement which all states must pass in order to get child support and TANF funds.

Earlier this session, Wittich subpoenaed a hand-picked trio of OPA workers to rail against medicaid expansion and other help for Montanans in need. In an email to lawmakers before the hearing, those workers were caught using an analogy which references the people they were paid to help as “wild animals” and liars.  This is shameful and repulsive.  As Intelligent Discontent writes, given this email has come to light “presumably [Wittich, Ehli, Burnett and crew] were aware of her attitude and lack of evidence—and they chose to present this farce to the people of Montana in order to gin up a controversy about fraud in public assistance programs.”

At the “hearings” in which Ms. Brown and a couple of other Libby public assistance workers were brought in to denigrate Montana’s most vulnerable citizens, no members of the public were allowed to speak, nor was any requirement made that these individuals verify any of the claims they made.  The “hearings” spectacle did serve one purpose: it exposed the motives and true beliefs of Wittich, Ehli and Burnett.

 

 

GUEST POST: Capitol challenges at halftime

by Mary Ann Dunwell

Mary Ann Dunwell is the Democratic Representative for Montana House District 84 Helena/East Helena. You can reach her at (406) 461-5358 orrep.maryann.dunwell@mt.gov or www.facebook.com/maryanndunwellforhd84

Mary Ann Dunwell

Mary Ann Dunwell

It’s halftime in Helena. Legislators take transmittal break to reflect, regroup and re-strategize. Bills move from one chamber to the next for the second half of Montana’s 64th Legislative Session, where policies advance that can make or break lives, livelihoods and Montana’s quality of life. That’s an awesome responsibility and I take it seriously.

This freshman legislator spent the first quarter learning the rules and examining the plays. Legislating is a team effort that takes support from members of the public and fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle. A couple of bills I sponsored made it to the other chamber. The Governor signed one bill already. Another bill that’s moving forward deletes the words defect and defective from Montana law in reference to mental illness. Words matter. Someone with mental illness is not defective, he or she is ill. Other bills of mine got tabled in committee along party lines. House Democrats tried to blast my dollar-a-year minimum wage hike bill to the floor, but failed. This, as many Montanans struggle to make ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck.

Don’t get me wrong, there has been bipartisan collaboration, like on a mental health package that sailed out of the house. We’ve yet to see final plays for Early Edge, Build Montana and Healthy Montana – expanding Medicaid to provide healthcare for 70,000 Montanans – our friends, neighbors and loved ones who grow our food, watch our kids, and work our Main Streets.

Sitting on House Tax, I’ve argued against bills that give tax treats to the 1-percent out-of-state corporations, yet throw crumbs to Montana’s 99 percent. One bill, HB 166, is on its way to the Governor’s desk. So-called tax cut bills chip away at the state’s equitable tax system that funds our public services like schools, police & firefighters, parks, roads & bridges, clean air and water. These public services make our families and communities strong.

On House Natural Resources, I voted against attempts to sell off our federal public lands, gut clean air and water protections, and violate our Constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment for present and future generations.

As we head into the second half, I encourage you to follow the bill votes at leg.mt.gov. Please weigh in. Ours is a proud, representative democracy where all voices deserve to be heard. Let’s make sure that happens in the People’s House.

 

House and Senate Dems: Let’s Keep Montana’s Economy Moving

Under Governor Bullock’s leadership, Montana’s economy is strong and unemployment continues to drop.   We are ranked first in the nation for small business creation rate.  Montana also leads the nation when it comes to the small business ownership rate. Montana ranks in the middle or better half of states in Housing & Homeownership outcomes, earning the state an “A” grade. The state also receives an “A” in the Businesses & Jobs category.

Democrats in the Montana legislature are fighting to keep this going, with infrastructure development that still keeps money in the bank for a rainy day and investing in our health care sector which keeps rural hospitals open.  Healthcare is one of our states largest economic sectors and one of the largest provider of good paying jobs in small towns across Montana.  Which is why Medicaid expansion has been endorsed by the Montana Chamber of Commerce. As the Montana Medical Association reports,

New federal spending would create and support 14,000 jobs annually, 60% in health care industry. The average wage for workers in the healthcare industry in Montana is $42,000 (compared to other industries with an average of $35,000 average. This would create $3.8-4.2 billion between 2014-2021 in new labor income.

It makes no sense that Republicans would work to trash economic growth  to score points with chest-thumping pablum-peddling out-of-state TEA Party groups – yet that’s exactly what’s been happening the first part of the legislative session and if it continues it will indeed be very bad news for Montana.  Democrats in the House and Senate put out a weekly video update to keep Montanans in forms – here’s what they had to say at the Montana Legislature’s halfway point:

American Lands Council, GOP Senator Silent in the Face of Questions Over Staffing Arrangement

The Bozeman Chronicle is reporting today that a Republican senator’s aide was asked to step down after it was revealed that the aide was a paid staffer of and lobbyist for the American Lands Council, a Utah group that is pushing for the takeover of Montana public lands.  Sen. Jennifer Fielder has so far refused to comment on the matter, but it doesn’t look good that an out-of-state group was paying the salary of an individual serving as Fielder’s staffer, who was simultaneously a registered lobbyist for that organization to boot.

Typically, the only lawmakers that have staffers, are the leadership (majority and minority) of the House and Senate, and these shared staffers are paid for out of the legislature’s budget  A personal staffer paid for by a lobbying group is something I certainly haven’t seen before.  The Cowgirl Blog first reported the issue yesterday morning after tipsters discovered what was happening.

Fielder has introduced multiple land takeover bills on behalf of the Utah group this session, and has been helping the out-of-staters push the scheme for the past year and a half. But most people thought the land takeover plot was just too extreme–not to mention unconstitutional and somewhat ridiculous.  Every bill Fielder introduced on this issue has died, even though Montana’s legislature has wide Republican majorities in both houses.

It’s concerning therefore that Montana’s Senate President, Debby Barrett has said she tapped Fielder as vice-Chair of the Republican party because of her stance on these very issues.  As Lee newspapers reported recently, Fielder who is currently the vice-chair of the Montana Republican Party, was “nominated by Sen. Debby Barrett of Dillon, who is now president of the Montana Senate.”

Barrett says she was impressed by the job Fielder did as a freshman senator, working on the lands issue and representing her district.

“There’s not economic benefit from the forest up there anymore,” Barrett says. “It’s a problem and she’s searching for how to address that. … She has educated herself and she’s educating other people on the issue of getting the stewardship of our lands taken care of, because they’re just going to waste.”

The Lee Newspapers also discussed Fielder’s role in a group called the Sanders County Resource Council.   But what they didn’t report is that Fielder and John Trochman, founder of the Militia of Montana, are co-leaders of that group.  Fielder is on the group’s board of directors, according to her website. Here’s the screenshot in case this gets taken down.

Trochmann founded the Militia of Montana in the 1990s after the wife and son of white supremacist Randy Weaver were killed in a standoff with federal agents in Ruby Ridge, Idaho. He’s a big figure in the national militia movement.  And the Sanders County Resource Council was formed by Trochmann specifically to serve as a front group for militia activity.  We know this because Trochmann admitted it, in a radio interview, in which he explains that for legal reasons, he now conducts much of his militia-oriented activity under the guise of several new groups, SNRC among them.

So heads up, folks. If the American Lands Council starts agitating in your state next, this is the kind of thing you’d be wise to keep an eye out for.