Tag Archives: Jenny Eck

TEA Party Lawmaker Compares Abortion Doctors to Veterinarians

When it comes to women’s health, Republican says we should think about what a veterinarian would do.

TEA Party Republican Bill Harris, of Winnett, MT

TEA Party Republican Bill Harris, of Winnett, MT

Why can’t TEA Party Republicans in the Montana Legislature talk about women without comparing us to animals?

In an executive action session of the House Human Services Committee yesterday, Rep. Bill Harris (R-TEA Winnett)  compared abortion doctors to veterinarians.  Harris said:

“Whether you call this an unborn fetus or an unborn what–anything else,  it still rises to the level of needing a humane consideration.

And if I took an animal regardless of what it was, whether it was dying or whether it was just needin’ unwanted or wanted rid of, to a veterinarian to have it euthanized that veterinarian would go to every effort to do that in as painless and as humane a way as he could manage, so for obvious reasons, I’m a yes to this bill.”

Harris was arguing in favor of  HB 479  by Rep. Al Olszewski (R-TEA Flathead).  The bill is your basic junk science fetal surgery bill.  It says physicians will lose their licenses unless they disregard the will of the patient in favor of pseudo-science.

This is one of the most offensive bills this session (and that’s really saying something). It treats women as incubators who should have no voice or opinion when it comes to procedures involving our own bodies .

Rep. Al

Rep. Olszewski, TEA Party Republican from the Flathead, who wants to force women to undergo junk science medical procedures at our expense.

Under the bill, the physician must also determine the gestational age of the fetus by performing “any medical examination and test” that the physician deems reasonable.  The only way to do this is through mandatory vaginal probe ultrasounds – but presumable Rep. Olsewski was hoping no one would point this out, as forcing women to do this has been the subject of much national outrage. 

Rep. Jenny Eck, Rep. Jessica Karjala, and Rep. Ellie Hill spoke out against the bill during the committee meeting and against the offensive comments of Rep Harris.  Committee Vice-Chair Rep. Ellie Hill (D-Missoula) said,

“I think its shocking that  party that ascribes itself with a philosophy of less government is giving us yet another bill of more government.  This is not scientifically proven, not medically necessary, and that’s going to cost women in the state of Montana more money.”

“I’m sad to hear this bill, I’m sad to hear one of the Representatives on this committee make an analogy to veterinarians…I think that this bill is a shame.”

House Minority Whip Rep. Jenny Eck (D-Helena) said:

“I’m sorry if women’s bodies get in the way of the development of a fetus; but that’s the reality. And until there is a day when babies can be grown in an incubator without women’s bodies, you’re gonna have this problem where, yes, we are the vessels that carry fetuses. And you can’t get around that fact.

We have a will of our own. We have opinions of our own. And we have lives of our own. So as soon as we become treated as just an incubator it becomes very problematic.

And, I would say, very different from a situation where someone puts their dog down at the veterinarian’s office.

During the 2011 session, Rep. Keith Regier, now a member of GOP legislative leadership, compared women to cattle on the floor of the House of Representatives. Regier analogized that pre-tested cows are more valuable than open cows in his speech arguing in favor of forced births for rape victims. Then TEA Party Republican Rep. Krayton Kerns made headlines by  “comparing Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke to a studding English bulldog named “John-Boy,” and here’s the story. 


Top 10 Biggest Mistakes Rightwing Legislators Made Before the Session Even Started

1. Banning technology.  GOP lawmakers are pushing a rule change that would allow GOP leadership to ban the use of technology from committee hearings.   Rep. Tom Woods, in a guest post on the Cowgirl Blog, explained some of the draconian new rules the right-wing of the GOP legislature is seeking to pass this week.  Democrats on the rules committee objected that technology was important for “researching facts and figures during a hearing, which is of great benefit to our constituencies, our objections were disregarded.”  Some Republicans objected too:  Rep. Mike Miller says he uses technology to take notes, you know, because it’s 2015.  The GOP majority still moved the anti-tech rule forward.

2. Giving legislative staff two weeks off because their new budget software doesn’t work.  The MT legislature is implementing some new budgeting software this session.  Word on the street in Helena is that the software isn’t working yet–so whomever is in charge supposedly decided to just give all the staff a couple of weeks off instead of preparing for the session.  If this rumor is true, this move certainly doesn’t do anything to instill public confidence.

3. Granting new “insanely powerful tool” to the Speaker of the House. This session, GOP leaders are proposing a move which would grant unprecedented new power to the Speaker of the House. As the Billings Gazette wrote in an editorial condemning proposed rule change to give Speaker  Austin Knudsen new powers, “If the full House approves this rule, the speaker will effectively have the power to kill any bill that he wants to kill – unless 60 House members vote against his decision.”  Bad idea.  The Gazette editorial concluded by calling on “Knudsen to rethink his support for this ‘insanely powerful tool,’ as Rep. Rob Cook, R-Conrad, has said.”

“We call on all House members — Democrats and Republicans — to vote against this change that would take power from the majority and transfer it to one representative.”

4. Banning the public from the house floor.  Apparently unfazed with the fallout from getting busted holding a secret caucus meetings in a Helena motel, GOP leadership is seeking yet another rule change to create what TEA Party Rep. Art Wittich called a “refuge” to talk with other legislators without the public present. (Wittich is the lawmaker who faces removal from office for his role in the meth house scandal.) Republicans are proposing a rule banning the public from the house floor 24 hours a day – 7 says a week. In the past the public was not allowed on the house floor two hours before and after a floor session, but at all other hours were able to come to speak with legislators.

5. Claiming they are striving to be more like the U.S. Congress. The GOP-controled rules committee also voted to unilaterally demote democratic vice chairs to the position of “ranking members.” Rep. Jeff Essmann said the move is intended to make the MT legislature “be more like the U.S. Congress.”  As Rep. Tom Woods explained so well,

“In a move that can only be seen as sticking a thumb in the eye of Democrats, GOP leaders in the house rules committee stripped the titles of all house Democrats serving as vice chairs of their committees. No valid reason was given for this action aside from a stated desire to “emulate the traditions in the US Congress.” I have never, ever had a constituent request that our Montana legislature be more like the US Congress, but…there you have it.”

6. Continuing obsession with taking over public lands. Jennifer Fielder alone has requested dozens of different bills to address the same scheme – which republicans call TPL for “takeover of public lands.” Previously, GOP moderates tried to distance themselves from this half-baked and childish idea, especially after the idea got a nearly unanimous endorsement at the recent GOP platform convention.  Moderates backpedalled when it was revealed the transfer would increase our taxes by hundreds of millions, and inflict a major blow to Montana’s tourism economy.

7. Dress code and modesty standard. Requiring, then being forced to rescind a ridiculous modesty standard and dress code targeted at women lawmakers and reporters.  The embarrassment made national news.   Rep. Jenny Eck, thankfully stopped the nonsense immediately.

8. Packing the house education committee with anti-education extremists. GOP leaders sent a clear anti-education message when they appointed a group of homeschoolers, anti-education lobbyists, and even a convicted child abuser to the House Education committee.  It’s already clear that a right-wing attack on education is going to become one of the major themes of 2015.  Montanans are strong supporters of our public school classrooms, and this won’t bode well for the GOP.

9. Holding a secret caucus in the basement of a Helena motel in violation of state open records laws. Having 20 of the state’s largest news organizations file a legal complaint against your caucus for violating open meetings laws certainly can’t be how how any GOP elected official wanted to start the session.

10. Inviting a hate group to speak to the state legislature.  Intelligent Discontent first reported that a hate group would be speaking at the Lewis and Clark Library this week.  Now, that same blog and the Billings Gazette are reporting that this guy has been invited to speak to Montana lawmakers as well.   The group’s speaker is a nullification proponent who preaches that parents should teach their children to hate people and that wildfires in CA were divine retribution for a state anti-discrimination law.

As the Gazette reported “Republicans participating in the sermon defended his inclusion as a matter of free speech.”  The Gazette spoke with GOP state Sen. Jennifer Fielder about it Sunday, as well as Wendy McKamey (R-Great Falls)  who originally said she may not participate in the program after learning of the speakers’ views. Other GOP-ers must have got wind of her hesitation however, because she called the Gazette back the next day to tell them she would definitely be there.

These mistakes are bad not because they further damage the hard right’s reputation with the public, although to be sure they do. They’re bad because they serve to keep the public out of decisions the legislature make and to consolidate these decisions into hands of a few extremists  behind closed doors who dutifully follow national special interest and fringe group directives but don’t represent most Montanans.


Local Songwriter Writes Song Mocking GOP Dress Code for Legislature, Reporters

The story about the Montana legislature’s ridiculous dress code requiring that women mind their necklines and shirt lengths is receiving lots of attention nationwide, including an article in the New York Times featuring Rep. Jenny Eck (D-Helena), Rep. Caroline Pease-Lopez (D-Billings) and Rep. Ellie Hill (D-Missoula.)

Now, Missoula’s own local singer and songwriter Bob Wire has summed this embarrassment up in song. You can watch Bob perform Montana GOP (Dress Code), his parody song about the Montana House GOP dress code for the 2015 Legislative session, on Youtube here.

Bob Wire and his orginal band, the Fencemenders, made the rounds in Western Montana for years, and Bob still performs to packed houses at favorite Missoula hangouts. Be sure to check out his blog too.

His Heart Just Isn’t In It

Frank admissions of doubt from one Helena City Commission candidate make the Helena Vigilante’s profile on the capital city commission races an interesting read.

Here’s incumbent commissioner Dan Ellison:

Let me start by saying I didn’t have a burning desire to run for reelection.


So with some reluctance I made the decision to run for another term.

To be sure, Ellison  also says “I hope it doesn’t come across as egotistical to suggest that some people think that I have some skills that can be applied to an advantage for the community serving as a city commissioner.”

“Some people” may indeed think so, but it just doesn’t sound like Ellison’s own heart is really in it.  With three candidates running for two seats, this probably makes the choice  an easier one for many.

Ellison is most known in Helena for being the conservative City Commissioner who said he opposed Helena’s non-discrimination ordinance for LGBT citizens because it lacked protections for people who are bald or left handed.  His comments became the subject of parody and satire.  Ellison later caved to public pressure and supported the ordinance.  website: danellison.com

Also running is Andres Haladay, who’s already on the doors, and is the current chair of the Helena Citizens Commission. He’s got a website up haladayforhelena.com.  Haladay is endorsed by several popular Helena progressives including current city commissioner Katherine Haque-Hausrath, state Senator Christine Kaufman, and Rep. Jenny Eck.

The third candidate is David Nielsen who was formerly the Helena City Attorney. He also has a website nielsenforhelena.com.

Go read the whole piece at the Helena Vigilante.  One surprising revelation–not a single candidate discusses perhaps Helena’s most pressing issue–the near total lack of snow plowing in Helena throughout the winter months.


Montana GOP once again shows where their values lie, and it isn’t with public interest

by Lash

In committee room, in wood House seats,
No logic shall impede our feats.
Let those who live in Treasure State,
beware our record, it’s not that great.
-Oath of the MT GOP Corps

At some point in our lives Steve Martin explained to the world, “That a day without sunshine is like, well, night.” But with all the stumbling in the dark that’s happening, it could really be day fifty-four of the Montana Legislature or any day at all in the Montana House Judiciary Committee.

You may remember Pinehaven, the  “Christian” childrens’ ranch that made Montana news worthy of a spot on AC360,  was under threat of big, scary government regulation by HB236, which sought to require “certain” adolescent treatment programs to be regulated.  There was a push by Representatives Ellie Hill and Jenny Eck to blast the bill to the house floor for a full hearing. Continue reading

Will Horrendous CNN Story Move the Montana GOP?

Day of Reckoning Wednesday for Creepy School

by Cowgirl

The entire Montana House of Representatives will vote today on whether to regulate private religious schools, in the wake of a story by CNN exposing allegations of violence at Pinehaven School in the Flathead Valley.

Boarding schools claiming religious affiliation are not regulated in Montana.  They don’t need to be licensed at all.   Montana Democrats, responding to the Pinehaven and other such situations, are trying to change the law. Continue reading

GOP Wants No Regulation of Controversial Boarding Schools

by Cowgirl

A religious boarding school in northern Montana named Pinehaven Ranch has no license, no accreditation and employs teachers who are not certified, and is now dealing with allegations that the staff used violence to discipline students.

And yet the Montana GOP has voted, on a party line, to allow such schools to continue to go unregulated. CNN ran a big story about it tonight on the Anderson Cooper 360 show, with interviews with Montana legislators Jenny Eck and Krayton Kerns. Eck is a progressive democrat and Kerns, chairman of the Montana house judiciary, is one of the loudest and proudest Tea Partiers in America. Eck made an emotional appeal to the committee on which she sits, and which Kerns chairs, during a hearing on HB 236, a bill which would make homes for troubled kids like Pineheaven Ranch subject to the same regulation as other youth homes. As in, the state government would be allowed to get involved when school children at private religious schools are allegedly being abused. Religious schools, under current state law, are exempt from regulation.

Kerns, meanwhile, did not disappoint. He said, in an interview with CNN’s Gary Tuchman who paid a visit to the Montana legislature, that not only should schools like Pinehaven not be subject to any state education laws, but that all laws and regulations for all schools, public or otherwise, should be abolished.

The injustice was clearly on Eck’s mind in the committee when she pointed out to the committee that Kerns that allowed the headmaster of the school 20 minutes for his testimony against the bill, but gave opponents of the bill only a few seconds a piece.

And so, the general narrative that has been circulating in the media is that all is well at the Capitol and that “this Session is so much better than last session,” is not true at all. When it comes to the House Judiciary committee, the Montana legislature is still making national news for its awfulness. Perhaps now our own Montana press will get the true picture. HB 236 is sponsored by Rep. Ellie Hill (D-Missoula).  Here’s the video:

UPDATED: Dems Make Small Gain in Legislature

As of the time of this posting, with vote counts still coming in, it looks like the make-up of the Montana senate may be 21 Democratic senators to 29 Republicans in the next legislative session.   Democrats and Republicans appear to have won an equal number of the seats up for grabs, but Rs maintained an advantage in holdover senators.

During the 2011 session, there were 28 Republicans and 22 Democrats.

In the House, it looks like Democrats may pick up seven five seats, making that chamber 40 38 Democratic seats to 60 62 Republicans instead of 32-68 like the 2011 session.  This will help Governor-elect Steve Bullock sustain his 2013 vetoes.  UPDATE: As of 8:30 pm Wed evening, Dems have gained seven MT house seats. The Billings Gazette has the story.

All of the results STILL aren’t in yet, so this could change and the Dems could pick up more seats.

Here are a couple of highlights.  I’m sure there more more, please add them in the comments.


  • Democrats Brad Hamlett and Greg Jergeson were successful in winning tough Senate races.
  • Democrat Ed Leiser is leading Tim Baldwin.
  • Tom Jacobson appears to have taken out TEA Partier Cleve Loney.
  • Reilly Neill (D) looks to have taken out Dan Skattum in an ATP targeted race.
  • And in Butte, Ryan Lynch took back Max Yate’s house seat for the Dems.
  • Newcomer Jenny Eck was successfull in keeping her Helena house seat blue.
  • Gary Marbut lost in Missoula.


  • Janna Taylor and Dee Brown will be back in the Senate.
  • Militia-linked Jennifer Fielder is in from Sanders County is now a state senator.
  • Nicholas Schwaderer defeated Christine Johnson for the Superior house seat that was much in the news.
  • Dog killer Roger Webb is leading Wanda Grinde in Billings for the Heights senate seat, but all the votes aren’t yet in.
  • Warburton and Hanson will be back in the house. Though given the recent Frontline expose, she might be subject to a range of penalties, including removal from office, fines, or worse.  The question is whether there is a prosecutor out there who is willing to begin looking into this stuff.
  • Liz Bangerter from Helena and Joanne Blyton from Red Lodge will be back as well.


A Look at the Primary Election Results

Congratulations are in order to Kim Gillan and Pam Bucy who have won their respective primaries for Congress and Attorney General.

But that’s not the only good news.

Republicans have nominated Brad Johnson for Secretary of State. Johnson has battled alcoholism for many years, has had a few DUIs, and has been in and out of rehab recently (in 2008, he even campaigned from a rehab facility toward the end of the SOS race last time). Notably, in the article reporting on his announcement for office, he was unable to state a single reason why the current SOS, Linda McCulloch, should be replaced. Not a good start. He also says that he currently works as a “consultant”, although it is unclear who, if anyone, is paying him for his consultations. The nomination of such a weak candidate is good news for Democrats and for all those who don’t believe in the voter suppression tactics frequently championed by Republicans.

In the legislative races, congratulations to Helena’s Jenny Eck, who defeated two primary opponents for the open seat left when Mike Menahan decided not to run.  Here are a few other interesting legislative results:

Incumbents Taken Out

Incumbents are difficult to defeat and are rarely taken out.  It’s a lot easier when that incumbent becomes a laughing stock on national television. DUI promoter Alan Hale was taken out by primary opponent Kirk Wagoner 863 to 813.  Birther Bob Wagner was defeated by Ray Shaw in Madison County 1040-991.

Crackpots Advance

In Park City, nutjob TEA Party hatemonger David Howard somehow surpassed his two primary challengers by a wide margin.

In Sanders County, TEA Partier Jennifer Fielder (here’s her flyer) defeated the saner Rick Seeman. Feilder seems to have focused her campaign on the fact that her opposent was at one time employed by the government.   GOPers have also nominated the legislature’s largest recipient of government funds, TEA Partier Janna Taylor, over Republican Carmine Mowbray for Senate District 6.

More Good News for Democrats

Brad Johnson isn’t the only good news for Dems.   In the Laurel House races, supernatural scholar Sarah Laszloffy defeated main streat Republican Debra Bonogofsky, giving an edge to Democratic candidate Sean Whiting for that seat.

Corporate Money Wins

A secret list of corporations succeeded in electing State Senate TEA Party candidate Dee Brown over Republican Bill Beck in the Flathead. The corporations behind the so-called American Traditions Partnership are fighting Montana’s clean election laws in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock is defending Montana against ATP in that case.  Meanwhile, another corporate front group with secret donors has purchased the Montana Supreme Court race for $41,000.  TEA Party Republican Jason Priest’s shadow group succeeded in advancing right-winger Laurie McKinnon over Elizabeth Best.

I’m interesting in hearing your thoughts on the primaries and your takes on other races I didn’t get to here.  Please consider this a primary election open forum.

Helena Legislative Candidate Jenny Eck Up with Television Ad

Helena legislative candidate Jenny Eck has a campaign ad on air.  Eck is the Democratic candidate for  House District 82, which includes much of Helena’s west side. The seat is currently held by Rep. Mike Menahan (D), who is not running for re-election.  It’s worth noting with all the web-only video we’ve seen this cycle that the ad is actually on broadcast and cable stations.  Here it is: