Posted: February 20, 2015 at 11:35 pm by Cowgirl

Koch Brothers Shamed for Profiting from Government Subsidies

This week, Montana’s former governor Brian Schweitzer penned an op-ed in the state’s major dailies pointing out that the Koch brothers– who are bankrolling an effort to block health care for Montana’s poorest citizens–rake in millions in government subsidies for their Beaverhead Ranch in Dillon and make a big profit from it.  If you haven’t yet read it, you can do so here. 

Then a funny thing happened.  A person identifying herself as a worker from the ranch began blogging in the comments of Schweitzer’s piece.  The screenshots are below.

She says two things that raise a flag.  First, she says that the ranch doesn’t pay taxes on its cows.  That’s against the law and I’m surprised she’d make such an admission.  In fact, one actually does need to pay taxes on the cows one owns. Each cow is property and the more you own the more you are supposed to pay.

The second is that she says that the ranch has been subletting the land it leases from government.

This would be illegal too, if in fact it is what she is describing.  The LA Times has reported how such arrangements work:  a big money rancher gets exclusive government permits to graze those lands.  He pays the Bureau of Land Management $1.86 a month for each cow allowed to graze the vast expanse of BLM-managed public land. Then he charges others $8 to $12 per month per cow, pocketing the difference.

Anyway, read the whole exchange yourself and see what you make of it:

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Posted: February 17, 2015 at 6:49 pm by Cowgirl

Posted: February 17, 2015 at 6:46 am by Cowgirl

TEA Party Lawmaker Says Animal Shelter Workers are Terrorist Threat

A Montana TEA Party legislator yesterday said during a speech on the floor of the House of Theresa ManzellaRepresentatives yesterday that animal shelter workers were a terrorist threat.

TEA Party Rep. Theresa Manzella (R-Ravalli) is sponsoring a bill would eliminate the ability of law enforcement to use animal shelter staff to assist in the rescue and sheltering of animals in cases of alleged animal cruelty and abuse.  (HB 179) Apparently she believes one reason the bill is needed is that animal shelter workers are likely terrorists.

“During the past several years special interest extremism as characterized Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front has emerged as a serious terrorist threat.

The FBI estimates that these organizations have committed at least 600 criminal acts in the United states since 1996.  resulting in damages in excess of $42 million.  Today, those people who have been convicted of their crimes, of the damages in estimation of
$42 million, they work for the Humane Society of the United States.

One in particular, his goal is the total abolition of animal agriculture. I ‘d like you to keep that in mind.”

You can hear her speech, delivered on the floor of the Montana House of Representatives on February 16, 2015, on Youtube here:

This ludicrous conspiracy mongering is a disservice to Montanans.  It is beneath us, and does not belong in Montana’s lawmaking process.

Meanwhile Republicans in the Montana state senators managed to vote down a good bill by Sen. Tom Facey (D-Missoula) last week that would have required animal abusers to pay a bond for the animals’ care  after they have been removed by law enforcement.  They managed to kill the common sense measure without calling anyone terrorists.   That bill was SB 115.


Posted: February 16, 2015 at 9:55 pm by Cowgirl

GUEST POST: Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Gather on Montana Horizon

By Anonymous

Like most Montanans, I looked at the looming legislative session with a certain sense of gloom…Little did I know.



HELENA, MONT.- Religious leaders in Montana today praised the first sign of the Second Coming, more commonly known as the Apocalypse.

“We knew our public servants in Christ would be part of the event, but never did we ever  imagine they’d lead it,” said booster club president Jeff Laszloffy at a Monday rally. Laszloffy and supporters had gathered to cheer the horsemen with signs emblazoned with:

“My vote punished man (and more importantly women and children)!”


“Honk if you’re ready to RAPTURE!”

Then, Representatives Art Wittich (Death*), Greg Hertz (Pestilence**) and Senators Fred Thomas (Hunger***), and Cary Smith (War****) emerged from a slightly sagging balloon arch to the ululation of the faithful as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Hertz and Thomas, the Horsemen of Pestilence and Hunger respectively, pledged this week that the will of the Lord would fall on Montanans first–and fall hard. Brandishing a 6-shot Colt pistol, the Horseman of War, Sen. Smith, punctuated his shouts of “Don’t restrict, RELOAD” with shots fired into the air.

“We did it,” Laszloffy whispered, a tear falling down one cheek.  It just goes to show you what we can expect when the power of true belief inspires public service. Plus now that the End Times are nigh upon us, Art Wittich doesn’t have to worry about going to jail.  Praised be His name.”


*Wittich is leading the fight against accepting the money to pay for health care for the working poor. According to the Montana Medical Association, 300 lives could be saved in Montana every year, if Medicaid expansion were passed. Wittich is also sponsoring a bill that is so illegal that, if passed, cause Montana to lose all funding Montana’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the program would be eliminated. HB 442

**Rep. Greg Hertz added an amendment making immunization optional to a bill that was intended to update Montana’s immunization requirements to the 20th century, if not the 21st. That bill is HB 158 

***Sen. Thomas is the sponsor of SB 206 which would take help buying food from thousands of needy kids, seniors, and people with disabilities.  The bill had no proponents.

****Sen. Cary Smith is sponsoring SB 143, a bill to allow guns on Montana college campuses.

*****Tom Burnett doesn’t appear to actually do anything except spout the cray-cray.  He gets honorable mention. Burnett has never passed a bill.


Posted: February 16, 2015 at 7:21 am by Cowgirl

Big Rally in Helena Today to Derail ALEC Land Grab Nonsense

MTRALLYPOSTERMontanans from across the state are gathering in  Helena to oppose TEA Party Sen. Jennifer Fielder’s plans to takeover our public lands with SB 215 and a “package” of other such bills.

It’s ridiculous that the Lee Newspaper story on the land grab doesn’t even mention where Fielder got the idea, which is copied from a Utah state legislator named Ken Ivory and his “group” the American Lands Council.

Ivory has been touring around pushing the idea that states should condemn and sell of public land.  He says this will help pay off the national debt.   This is an ALEC boilerplate bill, of which there are several this session, and Ken Ivory, basically Utah’s Derek Skees, has been pushing it at  ALEC conferences.  Montanans rejected the idea, which was among the infamous nutjob bills of the 2011 legislature ridiculed across the U.S.  The Utah legislature’s own legal staff has said the idea is unconstitutional.

But that doesn’t stop those looking for ways to become the next Cliven Bundy or Robert. E. Lee–and since Fielder can’t figure out how to secede, she is hoping to spark a new sagebrush rebellion in the Montana legislature.

It’s also troubling that the Lee Newspapers article on this nonsense didn’t mention how the republican party distanced itself from the land grab during the 2014 elections, since the scheme is obviously extremely unpopular with Montanans.

The rally is expected to be one of the largest in recent memory.  Fielder isn’t pushing this because it’s the right thing for Montana.  She’s creating more TEA Party circus theatrics like the Bozeman Chronicle has already pointed out Rep. Art Wittich and Rep. Tom Burnett are guilty of:

Somewhere along the line, our state Legislature — or at least certain members of it — stopped deliberating on what is best for the state and turned the whole process into a stage for politicians to preen and prance in front of their base with absurd proposals that consume valuable time and money…..

We get it, Reps. Wittich and Burnett: Some of your constituents dislike and distrust the federal government. But is it really necessary to turn the Legislature into a circus sideshow to keep them happy? These measures aren’t going to be enacted, and even if they were, they are utterly unenforceable.

Let’s drop the theatrics and get to the state’s real business.

Bullock meme

Another glaringly ludicrous ALEC bill this session is Cary Smith’s SB 148, which is an almost verbatim version of the ALEC bill found here. The Florida ALEC “State Policy Network” affiliate Floridians for Government Accountability is also pushing a slew of boilerplate legislation designed to defeat medicaid expansion and crack down on the poor.


Posted: February 13, 2015 at 7:22 am by Cowgirl

TEA Party Lawmaker Brings Bills to Repeal Math and English Standards for Schools

Debra Lamm MT Family FoundationTEA Party Rep. Debra Lamm (R-Livingston) is working in the legislature to repeal Montana’s math and english standards.  The standards are in place in at least 45 states. (I don’t know about Mississippi.)

The new standards have been implemented and embraced by educators in Lamm’s own district. But rather than representing her district’s public school classrooms, Lamm continues to work against their interests on behalf of her former employer – a lobbying group that represents the religious far-right.

Lamm used to work for the Family Foundation and in fact was the group’s top lobbyist and crusader against modern education standards until this year. She has stated that improved math and reading standards are connected to the workings of “the United Nations, UNESCO, the ‘New World Order,’ Marxism, Globalism, Islam, etc.” and the culmination “of an envisioned future of  ’dominant elites’ who have been working behind the scenes for over 100 years to ensure its adoption.” She has also worked closely on education policy with the wealthy Greg Gianforte of Bozeman, who builds museums that attempt to prove that dinosaurs lived 4,000 years ago. 

Lamm’s anti-education bills include:

 HB 376  – Prohibits enforcement of Montana’s math and english standards, also known as “common core” standards. HEARING WED FEB 18

HB 377 – An unconstitutional bill throws out Montana’s current academic standards for math and English. The bill dictates that Montana’s Board of Public Education set up a whole new standards review council to create a whole new set of standards. HEARING WED FEB 18

Both bills are bad for Montana and should not be passed.


Posted: February 12, 2015 at 7:37 am by Cowgirl

Thursday Quicktakes

Slight of Hand

this is mind-bogglingSay there was someone, let’s call him “Ron,” who wanted to fund some of the state’s  community mental health care needs, but only with patched, temporary, gimmicky spending bills that are one-time-only appropriations with less money, and that completely ignored the needs of Montanans in crisis who have been placed in crisis facilities by court order – they have no other choice.

Say there was someone else, let’s call him “Steve,” who has a mental health care solution with more money, that was permanent funding, and that addressed the needs for community treatment with new, increased, permanent on-going money – and also addressed the need for crises care for people who were sent by court order to the Montana State Hospital or public nursing home in Lewistown, which would you say was a greater help for Montanans with mental illness?

Just checking.

The issue of mental health funding has become a hot topic in the Montana legislature of late. That’s because Ron Ehli and his fellow GOP-ers are working to block permanent, much-needed new funds to help Montanans who need mental health care by pushing a temporary, one-time-only, bandaid of sorts instead.  The bandaid approach is the way Ehli is blocking the increased, permanent, new additional dollars Gov. Bullock has proposed to ensure Montanans have a pathway to get their community and crisis mental health care needs addressed.  Montanans need a real mental health care solution, and would be ill-served if the legislature, and Lee Newspapers, were to fall for this slight of hand.


What’s Behind the Human Trafficking Bill Vote Count?

An interesting outcome from the vote on a bill by Rep. Kim Dudik to crack down on human trafficking bill this week, House Bill 89.   The bill passed the house 98-2.  The two who voted against cracking down on sex trafficking and protecting victims?

TEA Party Republicans Nick Schwaderer  and  Tom Burnett.



Posted: February 11, 2015 at 7:41 am by Cowgirl

Move Over Dress Code: TEA Party Lawmaker Says It Should be Illegal for Anyone to Wear Yoga Pants, Speedos in Public

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Guess which of these founding fathers outfits one Montana TEA Partier would make illegal?

The internet exploded in ridicule (again) yesterday after a Montana lawmaker told the press that he believes it should be illegal to wear yoga pants, tight pants and speedos in public.  

TEA Party Rep. David “Doc” Moore (R-Missoula), who is not a doctor, has introduced a bill that would make it illegal even to don a costume that would make it appear you might be naked.  Moore is outraged it seems about a “naked bike ride” that occurred in the college town he lives in, Missoula.  That eveScreen Shot 2015-02-11 at 8.09.30 AMnt was organized to promote body acceptance for people of all shapes and sizes.  (Also, Missoulians just really enjoy riding bikes.)

GOP lawmakers are so focused on dress codes and bans on certain clothing is not clear.  or can anyone figure out what pressing problem in Montana “costumes that simulate genitals” is creating.  The bill is House Bill 365.   Meanwhile, apparently without awareness of any irony in the situation Moore’s fellow TScreen Shot 2015-02-11 at 8.10.21 AMEA Partier Sen. Janna Taylor (R-Dayton) is sponsor of a bill to ban the enforcement of Sharia law by Montana courts. That bill is SB 199.

If Rep. Moore had his way, I guess GOP PSC Commissioner Johnson would go to jail for life for these pants.
Back in the eighties, Rep. Richard Nelson (R-Kalispell), not a bad fellow, introduced a bill to ban swimming shorts for men that revealed a heightened state of affection. He was concerned that indecency of this nature was rampant at public beaches. The bill was nicknamed the “Boner Bill,” and died of ridicule.

This session who knows.

Posted: February 10, 2015 at 10:29 pm by Cowgirl

There’s No Vaccine for Stupid

Screen-Shot-2014-04-25-at-10.54.10-AMWhile a national backlash against the anti-vaxxer movement gains momentum this week, the House Education Committee of the Montana legislature hijacked HB 158, a good bill to update Montana’s vaccination laws, and added an amendment allowing anyone to claim a “philosophical” exemption.

Montana’s anti-vaxxer movement is plagued by paranoia and misinformation.  One Montana group’s website cites a scientist who, as nearly every news source in the world reported, lied about autism and an old formula for vaccine preservative that isn’t even used anymore.  Yet that’s who the house committee listened to over medical science. When even Fox News throws the anti-vaxxers overboard, you know they’ve gone too far.

If the anti-vaxxers had gone to public school, they might have learned that the father of modern immunization, a man who invented more than 36 vaccines – is actually from right here in Montana – from Miles City.    Maurice Hilleman is “credited with saving more lives than any other medical scientist of the 20th century.”  He did it with vaccines.

Posted: February 10, 2015 at 9:51 pm by Cowgirl

Here’s Your Latest Dose of the Session’s Best Newscast

Learn more at Forward Montana here.

As we learned in the latest episode, Montanans will gather in Helena to show the legislature that discrimination is not okay.

LGBTQ advocates from across Montana urge legislators to do what’s right – and you should be one of them.

Right now, four Montana cities protect residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation and only three protect against discrimination based on gender identity. This leaves people across Montana vulnerable to losing their job, being evicted from their home or being turned away from a business because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

On Monday, February 16th, Montanans will gather at the capitol to talk with legislators about establishing clear statewide protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In the afternoon, attendees will come together to discuss the role of faith in LGBTQ advocacy, bullying in Montana’s public schools and the history and future of LGBTQ policy work in Montana.

WHEN: Monday, February 16th | 11AM – 6PM
WHERE: Montana’s State Capitol, Helena, MT
WHO: Montana Human Rights Network, Forward Montana Foundation, ACLU of Montana, NCBI, Pride Foundation and the Human Rights Campaign
HOW: Transportation will be provided free of charge. Buses will leave from Billings at 7:15AM, Bozeman at 9:15AM, and Missoula at 9:00AM.

Supporters of LGBTQ equality are invited to join. Free transportation and food will be provided. Those interested in attending can register at the Facebook event called Equality in Montana or can visit:


Kiah Abbey
Forward Montana Foundation 406-672-8004

Pat Kemp
Montana Human Rights Act 406- 442-5506 x.17.