Category Archives: Montana Legislature 2013

GUEST POST: Pay Attention Get Involved Make A Difference

by Carla Augustad

Because Amanda Curtis is our new Democratic Senate Candidate, everyone should have easy access to her youtube videos   I do like this one about her mail from “non partisan non taxed entities” If you have ever run for office, you know about getting lots of “educational material” from those non profits like AIPAC and the Heartland Institute

At Day 86 you can learn that House Bill 282 raised taxes for most Montanan’s while lowering them for the wealthiest amongst us(4:15),at five minutes in, you can learn about Mark Blasdel adding four pages of amendments to a 14 line Bill.

Three minutes in to day 85 Amanda destroys the heavily publicized claim that the Republicans were unable to bring tax relief to Montanan’s, and the first two and a half minutes of Day 83 describes what happened to the last Insurance Bill

You may be starting to believe that I have no intention of letting the Insurance Issue go. I know too many people that need affordable access to preventative healthcare and cannot get it.

If you care about this, the way that I do, please get behind your local candidates, but ask them what they will do first! For instance, Kim Flemming in House District 11 will not support any Medicaid expansion. The two people MOST RESPONSIBLE FOR DENYING 70,000 working Montanan’s access to affordable healthcare are Mark Blasdel and David Howard.

Please support Diane Taylor and Elli Elliot in their work to send those darkmoneylovers home to their families where they belong.

Elli made it easy to share how you can contribute to her, so her information is below.

Checks to: Elli for SD 29

P. O. Box 2326

Red Lodge, MT 59068

The donation limit is $170 per individual. Please include your occupation and employer for reporting purposes.
On ActBlue: https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/elli4mtsd29

THANKS!!!

NEW STUDY: Montanans’ Access to Health Care Among Nation’s Worst

A new study has found that Montanans’ access to health care is among the worst in the U.S.

The July 2014 report by the Commonwealth Fund found that only three states had worse access to health care than Montanans–Idaho, Wyoming, and Alaska, as you can see in this chart.

The information shows that what the TEA party extremists did by refusing to accept the federal funds to cover the working poor was an especially poor decision in Montana, where the lack of access to health care is particularly bad.   You can read the whole study here.

Chart Health Care Access

 

Remember, the Medicaid expansion covers the working poor, people who earn “too much” to qualify for Medicaid now but don’t make enough to qualify for a price break through healthcare.gov.

The earnings ceiling for the coverage gap in Montana is $11,490 a year for a single person. If you make more than this, you could get a price break through the marketplace.

Earning $11,000 a year works out to a monthly income of $916.

  • Average rent for a (cheap, dilapidated) one-bedroom apartment in South Billings/Lockwood: $480/month. $436 left over…
  • Grocery bills: $125/month (Ramen noodles, 20 lb bag of potatoes). $311 left over…
  • Car insurance: $66/month. $245 left over…
  • Gas: $72/month (assuming 300 miles/month, or 10 miles/day to get to your job). $173 left over…
  • Clothing/Sundry items (shampoo, light bulbs, stamps): $25/month. $148 left over…
  • Entertainment: $15/month (1DVD rental on Sat night only). $133/month left over…
  • Utilities: $30/month (or a cheap cell phone). $103/month left over…
  • Savings/Debt: $50/month (making a future, or correcting the past–being responsible) $53/month left over…

That leaves about $53 to buy health insurance if nothing else goes wrong in your life–your car never breaks down, you never go to the dentist, etc.

The cheapest Bronze-level unsubsidized health insurance plan for a 40-year old in Yellowstone is $205/month – or four times more than what this person has left over for health insurance. Even on a bare bones budget without cable, an iPhone or a sports car–Montanans in the coverage gap can’t afford insurance thanks to the Montana legislature.

Remember, this single individual isn’t eligible for subsidies on the Affordable Care Act marketplace because those are only for people who make more than $11,490 per year.  So this person must pay the unsubsidized price.

Montana’s legislators need a reality check. They’ve made it so there is no path for a working poor person in Montana to do the responsible thing by getting health coverage.  This person has only one option:  pray they don’t get sick.

If your legislator doesn’t get it, she or he needs to be replaced.

Fact Checking GOP Hypocrisy on Federal Funds

The Montana legislature has proven itself to be more concerned with TEA Party orthodoxy than with our well-being, health, and economy. One of the most glaring examples of this is how they rejected free medcaid money for the Medicaid expansion–in a state where 16 percent of the population is still uninsured–in a state with the lowest percentage of employer-sponsored health care in the U.S.

When Montana TEA partiers and legislators try to explain why they refused money to pay for 100% of the health care benefits for 70,000 working poor Montanans for three years and never less than 90% of this cost, they try to make it sound like we’re taking on a “long-term liability” because they claim the feds will refuse to pay what they’ve committed to. Even thought this share is mandated by federal law–and even though this has never happened with Medicaid which has been operating in Montana since 1965. They say that accepting Montana’s share of this federal money makes us “lemmings about to jump off the cliff” and demand “belt tightening” to end the “tyranny” of federal funding.

Yet there is a mind-numbing level of hypocrisy on this front. It seems that some federal dollars are tyrannical lemming bait and others are not. Montanans welcome billions in federal funds that build highways, bring c130s and f15s to Great Falls, fight fires, clean up asbestos in Libby, and of course hand out  farm subsidies for Montana legislators. But when it comes to providing affordable health coverage to our working poor neighbors, some lawmakers want to draw the line. Why? Because they believe that federal funding for health coverage is somehow different than funding for concrete slabs, cleanup crews, or wildfire fighting camps. Of course, there isn’t any difference between these federal funds and the supposed dependencies they create—except in what the money pays for, and who it helps.

When Montana obstructionists refuse to accept these federal funds, they are saying that Montanan’s federal tax dollars won’t be put to work to help Montanans but will be instead sent to other states. The money won’t be circulating in Montana’s economy at all. This is beyond hypocritical: it’s just stupid. If a state rejects federal funding, that money is reallocated to other states. That’s how it works – those funds don’t magically go pay down federal debts. In when the Republican controlled house had a bill to change how federal appropriations work, the refused to even move it out of committee, so you know this is true, and its not going to be any different.

Next time you here someone trying to make the anti-federal money argument to hurt working poor families, feel free to set them straight.

 

 

Backpedaling Underscores Land Transfer Problems

That didn’t take long.

Republican Party leaders are already trying to distance themselves from a costly land transfer boondoggle which was supported nearly unanimously at the recent GOP platform convention. This after word is starting to get around about how the land transfer would increase our taxes by hundreds of millions, and inflict a major blow to Montana’s tourism economy especially in communities surrounding Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks like Kalispell, Bozeman, West Yellowstone and others.

Montana Republican Party Vice Chair Jennifer Fielder tried to tell a legislative panel Thursday that a report out-of-state land grab advocates are pushing “does not recommend transferring federal lands to state ownership or management” and that “None of the recommended legislation would transfer [land] either.”

Of course, the facts have already shown otherwise. Just last month Republicans  supported including the land transfer in their party platform – without an exception even for national parks.  And then there’s the fact that not just two of  boondoggle’s biggest cheerleaders, Vice-Chair Jennifer Fielder herself (fast forward to about 45 min in) and Rep. Kerry White (TEA-Gallatin County) have been caught on video supporting the lands transfer.  And video evidence now exists of nearly every Flathead area conservative candidate supporting the transfer: Oops.

Fielder’s swift and very public backpedaling underscores the political difficulties facing this idea.

A recent University of Montana poll found that 2/3 of Montanans oppose the idea, which has already become a defining issue in Wyoming’s top 2014 races (and not in a way that helps TEA Party republicans.)  Utah’s own legislative legal council said the idea is likely unconstitutional (Utah passed a bill to do this which is already facing legal problems.)  The idea faces heavy political opposition a well. As Rep. Bill McChesney (D-Eastern Montana) pointed out during the legislative panel, “This state not for sale.”

This is the second time Republican leadership has had to try to distance themselves from the ideas surrounding this land transfer. At an event promoting the land transfer earlier this year the Missoula Independent reported that a speaker from Defend Rural America called the environmental movement “domestic terrorists.”

 

The Message the TEA Party Doesn’t Want You to Send

If you read this blog, you already know about the 70,000 hard-working Montanans cannot afford to wait for healthcare.  The TEA Party extremists in the last legislature voted to bar the federal funds to pay for this care from reaching Montana.

The Montana chapter of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is doing something about that, and so should you.  It takes about 10 seconds.

TAKE ACTION:  Tell your legislator to support a Montana-made solution to provide health insurance for our hard-working neighbors

The federal government will pay 100% of the costs in the first three years and no less than 90% in the future, resulting in almost $4 billion in economic activity in our state.

By taking legislative action today, Montana will be able to:

  • Improve Access to Health Care Coverage → Nearly 70,000 uninsured Montanan’s will gain access to health care and this funding will protect access to rural hospitals
  • Detect Cancers Early → Benefits will include cancer screenings, such as mammograms, pap tests and colonoscopies
  • Save More Lives → Access to diagnostic and treatment services (regardless of the type of cancer), prescription drugs, and doctors’ visits
  • Protect Our Hospitals → Reducing the amount of uncompensated care and unneccessary use of emergency rooms, which drive up health care costs for all of us.

Providing more Montana families with access to affordable health insurance is good for patients, good for our state’s economy, and good for Montana.

You can also see and share the Cancer Society’s

 

TEA Party Wing Hijacks Annual Republican Fundraiser in Teton County

Dirty Tricks in Teton County

Choteau Republicans have indefinitely postponed their annual Shrimp Peel fundraiser due to party infighting over legislative primaries, but local TEA Party wing of the party has hijacked the event for its own.  Right-wingers says the event is still on and is using the popular annual get-together to feature TEA Party wing candidates and speakers instead of Republicans.

Dueling ads appeared in yesterday’s Choteau Acantha–one says the event is off, the other says it’s on.

The first ad is directly from the chair of the Teton County Central committee.  His ad states that the traditional Shrimp Peel fundraiser, which the local central committee has hosted year after year, will be postponed until after the primary elections in June.  GOP Chair Lew Clark’s ad explains that local Republicans voted 8-1 to postpone the event after it was revealed that a rightwing candidate “is trying to hijack our event.”  This man  “voted to cancel the Shrimp peel… and claim it as his own.”

In the same paper, the TEA Partier wing has their own ad, stating that the event is on for April 5, and that the event will feature angry TEA Party senator Art Wittich to bring fire and brimstone down upon the locals for daring to support their own popular elected Republicans.  What’s interesting about the phony shrimp peel ad is that it says it’s paid for by the “Teton County Republican Shrimp Peel LLC,”  which as far as I can tell doesn’t actually exist.  Cowgirl tipsters did a business entity search at the Secretary of State website and no such entity seems to be registered.

Here’s a pdf of the Teton Republican’s ad canceling the Shrimp Peel. The competing ad which claims the annual Shrimp Peel is on is below.

That candidate the GOP chair’s ad references is presumably Jim Anderson, the TEA Party right-wing challenger to Rep. Christy Clark. Clark is a pro-business legislator from Teton County. Both Clark and Teton County’s long-time state Senator, Llew Jones, face challenges from hard right-wingers who favor ideology over pragmatism and economic growth.   Anderson self-anointed former evangelical preacher who moved here from Red Lodge several years ago and operates a business called Grizzly Sports which sells guns, outdoor wear and espresso.

Anderson wrote his own angry screed in the Fairfield Sun Times this week [PDF], in which he seems to be claiming that his attempts to hijack the event were not well taken and places blame for the kerfuffle on local volunteers who didn’t want their event hijacked by TEA partiers.

The TEA insurrectionists are angry that some Republicans had the backbone to stand up to the TEA Party minority last session and vote based on what’s good for Montana’s economy rather than TEA Party ideology.  This horrifies TEA Partiers, but Montana voters expect rational thought. TEA partiers had hoped to hijack the government during the last legislative session. They succeeded on some things, like defeating a $6 billion infusion into Montana’s economy, but not on everything.

TEA Party Republican, Dark Money Group Leader Charged with Felony Assault on 4-year-old Daughter

As KTVQ Billings reports, court documents “filed in Carbon County District Court by Assistant Attorney General Mary E. Cochenour, show Priest is accused of grabbing his 4-year-old daughter and throwing her to the ground, causing an injury to her scalp.”

UPDATE: The Carbon County News has the most Continue reading

On claiming a bill is yours, without giving proper credit

Here we have a bill introduced by U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), which he introduced in 2011.  It was called the “Making Public Lands Public Access Act of 2011″ and uses funding from the Land and Water Conservation fund acquire lands around existing public lands that would also to improve access for hunters and anglers access to those existing public lands.

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You Can Run from the Wingnuts, But You Really Can’t Hide

Sen. Jennifer Fielder R-TEA Noxon

Sen. Jennifer Fielder R-TEA Noxon

The vice-Chair of the state Republican Party, Sen. Jennifer Fielder  promoted the gathering of an extreme anti-government group appeared as a keynote speaker at the group’s event. But when a reporter showed up, “she quickly distanced herself from [Defend Rural America leader Kirk] MacKenzie when asked about his extreme rhetoric and ideas,” which included that “neo-environmentalists” are “domestic terrorists.”  Fielder said that the group ideas weren’t what she thought they would be.

So now she knows, and there’s no longer a way to claim ignorance.

But Sen. Fielder must not be too upset about the group’s views. She’s invited yet another Defend Rural America speaker, Doyel Shamley, to present information to a legislative hearing this Wed, Jan 8. You can see that he appears under Fielder’s portion of the Environmental Quality Council agenda.

Shamley provided training and workshops for Defend Rural America’s secessionist county organizing drive in California.  He ran one of the Defend Rural America’s pilot projects, featured in this DFA white paper.

Shamley appears on the MT EQC agenda, billed as a “natural resource consultant.”  But Doyel Shamely is so much more.

Shamely is the host of a somewhat creepy conspiracy theory program which posits that politicians, lawmakers, members of the royal family, the illuminati and others have created a “New World Order” through which they attempt to control the thoughts and beliefs of everyday people–of course, there is connection to UFO’s and aliens visiting planet Earth.

His audio book, New World Order: The Battle for Your Mind and the Truth to the UFOs, is available for $10.95 at Amazon.com, but for some reason has no customer reviews.

Is there a New World Order? Are they trying to control every part of our lives? Are we treated like sheep?…Are they politicians, company directors, religious leaders, royalty, lawmakers, or all of the above and more? How old is their rule? And what secret organization do they belong to?

Perhaps more importantly, are UFOs actually visiting our planet? Have they been here for thousands of years? All this and more is constantly investigated by thousands of people around the globe and nobody more than the Hour of Our Time Show*[hosted by Shamely]…Are they trying to control our minds? Are they lying about the Alien Threat? You decide.

Indeed Fielder has decided that Montana’s lawmakers need to hear from this consultant–apparently no other natural resources speaker would do.

Yes, the truth sometimes has a way of coming out, but that hasn’t stopped Fielder from tried hide from and disassociate herself from the extremist views of these “expert consultants” she consorts with.

For example, Sen. Dick Barrett (D-Missoula) provided her with an email with information about the watershed consultant hired by TEA partiers to block a tribal water rights agreement negotiated by the state of Montana and the CSKT.  Kate Vandemoer (yes, this is the Usurpathoner) has a birther blog with some pretty extreme, marginal views–and some writings that reflect the soundness of her judgement.  But Fielder got angry and insisted that the contents of Vandemoer’s “personal” blog (whatever that might mean) were not relevant.  But in the same breath, she claimed that she had never read the blog.  I encourage you to read this informative chain of emails below the fold.

The most cursory review of Vandemoer’s very public blog (Dr Kate’s View) shows that Vandemoer uses it not only to promote her multitudinous and bizarre birther conspiracy theories, she also uses it to share her views on water and watershed politics.

In a post entitled “Watershed Politics” Vandemoer writes the following. (Apologies for the long passage but they illustrate this “expert’s” state of mind.)

the landscape of our America was shaped by our Constitution, the very blood and water of our country…Upon this hallowed ground–nothing more than a chessboard to some– a dark rain has fallen for decades…it is falling and now drenching.  I remember being in the wilderness for weeks on horseback, wondering what the black ‘goo’ was on the vegetation and the rocks…This foreign rain, and the raging torrents it produces, are attempting to capture that stream and dream known as America.  It is trying to erode our landscape, our system, in order to capture liberty and train it into a controlled system of slavery, where the course of everyone’s life is determined by a single train of thought–communism, new world orderism.  The NWO has intentionally created these devastating torrents to undermine sovereignty, liberty, and freedom…indeed I have felt that the very foundation of our country is threatened…and with increasing force.

Does the NWO think it is God, such that it can flood the world with poison rain and torrential rivers to destroy all of creation, and refashion it to its liking (and control)?

She uses the blog to share her belief that climate change is a diversionary tactic to keep the public from looking into a list of conspiracy theories: such as “weather modification by geoengineering“–Vandemoer believes the government is creating natural disasters so that it may “take over our lives.”  There’s also HAARP (a secret weapon conspiracy nuts think is used for weather modification. And don’t forget “chemtrails, and microwave pulses.”

So even if Fielder doesn’t scramble to distance herself from the conspiracies, or Vandemoer’s belief that, “the Rothschilds (translated ‘Red Shield), Rockefellers, and many other monied JKhazar Jews, who together form a cabal acting like a synagogue of Satan that is in full gear enforcing its agenda on America, including Agenda 21.”  Even if Sen. Fielder does not believe that these views call “Dr. Kate’s” judgement into question, Vandemoer’s views on water as a water consultant should give any sane person pause.

For tomorrow’s legislative meeting. Fielder has invited another extremist to town.  She’s asked Ken Ivory to the legislative committee tomorrow.  Ivory is the Utah legislator who carried a bill requiring the Federal government to cede much of its land in Utah to the state.

This guy Ivory has already appeared in Ravalli County.  Actually, he’s been touring around pushing this idea to other states at ALEC conferences too–legislative language is conveniently available now in ALEC boilerplate. Montanans will remember this idea as one of the infamous nutjob bills of the 2011 legislature, sponsored by Derek Skees.

Unfortunately for Ivory (and ALEC), Utah’s Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel had to go and point out a pile of pesky case law with regard to public lands going back to the 1870s that gives the bill “a high probability of being declared unconstitutional.” And the Salt Lake Tribune has called Ivory’s effort “tilting at windmills.” Arizona rejected it.  The bill was vetoed by TEA Party Governor Jan Brewer. In Montana, the bill didn’t even make it out of committee.

But the GOP loves to throw these kinds of pointless proposals out there, in spite of the fact that it is a complete waste of public resources to do so.  It’s political grandstanding to rally the extreme-right conservative TEA Party base and to feed their antigovernment conspiracy narrative.

Tomorrow, we’re the one’s paying for it.
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Legislator Complains About Being Left Off List of 2013’s Top Nutjobs

In one of the funniest episodes I can remember in my several years of blogging, I was contacted yesterday by a Republican state legislator, who is upset by the fact that I did not include him in my year-end list of the state’s top nutjobs of 2013 which I posted on New Year’s day. Continue reading