Category Archives: Uncategorized

Corporate Tax Protests Have a History of Harming Schools

Unfortunately for Montana’s public school classrooms, big corporations refusing to pay the taxes is apparently  a fairly common practice.

 Pennsylvania Power and Light, a multi-national company worth $17 billion, did the same thing more than ten years ago after acquiring its dams from Montana Power. This was in large measure the reason Great Falls Public Schools had to close down a middle school to make up for the money PP&L owed but refused to pay.

The district was forced to put 6th graders back in elementary schools,  which soon led to overcrowding.  It will surprise no one that the city and the school board became divided over which of the three middle schools they would have to close. Several highly respected school board trustees were voted out of office thereafter, replaced by a group that voted to reverse the previous school board’s decision and close another middle school instead.

Great Falls schools suffered the brunt of PP&L’s actions, but as the Billings Gazette reported, schools in Sanders Count (Thompson Falls), Lewis and Clark County (Helena) and Rosebud County (Colstrip) were also impacted.

All thanks to PP&Ls refusing to pay the its taxes and protesting them instead, 94% of which courts later ruled the company owed and must pay–but by then the damage to these school districts was done.

As Mike Dennison reported in 2004, a lawyer for the state of Montana in the tax appeal case said he had “never seen a taxpayer so blatant in its attempt to avoid being taxed on its fair market value.” 

At the time, PP&L also tried to send unsolicited political donations to state legislative candidates, state Sen. Jim Elliott of Thompson Falls refused to take the money. It would be interesting to see who has been taking political contributions from Charter and Verizon, the corporations the most recent examples of this kind of despicable behavior. 

Montana’s Clinic Safety Law Stands

Last week the Supreme Court made it easier for anti-choice protesters to harass and threaten women as they go into clinics. In its decision in McCullen v. Coakley, Supreme Court–protected ironically behind their own 250-foot buffer zone, ruled that women will be denied a 35-foot zone of protection. 

The Massachusetts law struck by the Supreme Court is different than the Buffer Zone law in Montana which was passed in 2005. Montana’s law still stands, and was not struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. This law was the first pro-choice bill ever passed by the Montana legislature.

While the justices declared that the commonsense 35-foot buffer zones outside Massachusetts clinics — advocated for by law enforcement to protect public safety — are unconstitutional, Montana’s law is different.  Montana’s law states that within a 36-foot zone, protesters may still speak with those entering a clinic, but they must give those entering eight feet of personal space.

This decision comes only five short years since the murder of Dr. George Tiller by anti-choice extremists.  Here in Montana, three clinics providing abortions—in Kalispell, Missoula, and Helena—were attacked with fire bombings by an anti-choice extremist in the early 1990s. Most recently, in March 2014, the same Kalispell clinic was the target of extensive vandalism and forced to close its doors indefinitely.  You can read NARAL Pro-Choice Montana’s statement on the Supreme Court decision and Montana’s law here. 

 

Back Monday

Greetings readers, I am headed to the back country in an undisclosed location for a few days, but I’ll be back to posting on Monday. Have a great weekend everyone! Cowgirl