Tag Archives: Montana Legislature

TEA Party Leadership in Montana Took Wyoming Dress Code and Made it Stricter

A quick update on dresscode-gate.

First TEA Party Speaker of the House Austin Knudson, after originally refusing to comment, later insisted that it was a member of his staff who created the dress code being mocked across the nation (and apparently referred reporters to that staffer).  Later Knudsen admitted that while he did indeed say it was a member of his staff that made the dress code, “the buck stopped with him,” and began responding to reporter questions.

Knudsen said the Montana dress code “mirrors” one from Wyoming. However the Cowgirl Blog has obtained a copy of the Wyoming document and while indeed many passages are plag taken verbatim, there are a couple of interesting differences.

It seems Montana’s GOP took steps to make Montana’s dress code even more stringent than Wyoming’s.

First, note that the Wyoming document specifically allows bolo ties. That language is stricken from the Montana document.  Here’s Wyoming:

Bolo ties are acceptable forms of neckwear, but the bolo must be worn tight with the top button of a collared shirt buttoned.

Perhaps the offending accessory became so associated with former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer that TEA Party lawmakers can no longer bare the sight of it without being reminded of the regular drubbing he gave them.

Montana GOPers also removed an item from the Wyoming dress code allowing sleeveless dresses–IF and only if they were worn under jackets that is.  Apparently however, the thought that some woman might be sleeveless underneath her suit coat was too much for MT Republicans, so they took it out.

Finally, although Wyoming lawmakers have generously been allowed to wear knit dresses–if sufficiently covered by a jacket. That language is also removed from the MT dress code.  Perhaps  one of these items was the mysterious item number six which was missing from Montana’s dress code.  That document skips from 5 to 7.

GOP Legislature Releases Mandatory Dress Code, Modesty Standard for Women

GOP also decrees:  Don’t get caught in fleece, jersey, or open-toed sandals

The TEA Party House Republican leadership of the 2015 legislature has issued a new edict, the first of its kind that I have seen.

Because they love freedom and personal liberty, they’ve issued a formal mandatory dress code for anyone who seeks to be allowed into the House floor.  Besides demanding “business formal” dress, the new decree calls on women to mind their necklines and skirt lengths.   House GOP leadership are empowered to police the new edict.

This important policy is written in all capital letters, of course, because what else would you  expect from world-class leaders.

Since this new dress code is not particularly clear, the Cowgirl Blog has provided a handy guide below.   After all, the dress code is not just for legislators but also for “LEGISLATIVE STAFF, MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA, INTERNS AND AIDES” who  “MUST ALSO ABIDE BY THIS POLICY IF ON THE FLOOR WHILE THE BODIES ARE GAVELED INTO SESSION.”

Once you see what’s in the dress code, it’s clear it is targeted at women–and probably reporters.  After all, reporters are really the only people who can access the house floor besides the legislators’ own staff–and a handful of high school “pages.”  Last session, reporters were required for the first time to get special permission or “passes” to be on the House Floor at all.  Then the next thing we know, the senate president is looking into evicting the Associated Press from its capital office. Now this. But let’s get right to the dress code. There are eight rules in the edict, however, rule #6 was not released and we must presume it is being kept secret for some reason.

UPDATE:  GOP Speaker of the House Austin Knudsen is now  blaming his staffer for the dresscode, as you can see in the Bozeman Chronicle article that just came out.

First,  women are ordered to be “SENSITIVE TO SKIRT LENGTHS AND NECKLINES.”

(No similar guidance was provided to men to be mindful of tight or sagging pants and hideously short eagle-carrying-an-assault-rifle-in-its-beak neckties.)

The dress code also bans leggings. The legging ban may be a dig at the young women of Skyview High School who are fighting a dress code policy that unfairly targets young women in Billings.

So leggings are out, as are open toed sandals.  However, under this dress code concealed carry holsters under beige suits with bolo ties would definitely be okay –at least once the legislature passes the obligatory “concealed carry for everyone” bill the TEA Party introduces every year. 

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Next, I see that “FLEECE AND JERSEY (SWEATSHIRT) MATERIAL ARE NOT CONSIDERED “BUSINESS FORMAL.”  Somebody needs to tell the dudes that wrote this that jersey and sweatshirt material are two entirely different things, but alas until then the rule stands.  Jersey tops like this are banned:

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While this polyester number as shown on former TEA Party Sen. Joe Balyeat is just dandy:

balyeat

 

It also appears that men and women are required to wear suits, or suit jackets at all times or, for women  “a suit-like dress” may be worn, whatever that is.  Unfortunately, that means some of the clothing worn by GOP lawmakers in their own official legislative photos does not meet the new code.

This attire on GOP Rep. Christie Clark is now banned:

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Rep. Christy Clark (R-Choteau)

Also banned would be any reporter who showed up to help inform the public dressed like this – as cardigans have been nixed:

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While this garb (the closest thing I could find that might resemble the item supposedly known as a “suit-like dress,” and which ceased to be made 30 years ago) would be allowed:

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suit-like dress

 

The dress code also specifies that “JEANS OR DENIM MATERIAL, INCLUDING COLORED DENIM, IS NOT ALLOWED.”  Which means the apparel worn by TEA Party Rep. Nancy Ballance would be banned:

Nancy Ballance

 

No mention is made of Colonel Sanders ties, but this must be an oversight and I expect further guidance on this Montana Legislature wardrobe staple soon (shown on former TEA Party Rep. Alan Hale).

 

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GOP leaders state that legislators must “COMPORT THEMSELVES IN A MANNER THAT RESPECTS THE LEGISLATIVE INSTITUTION AND THAT INCLUDES THE FORMALITY OF DRESS EXPECTED IN THE CHAMBER.”

But it when it comes to requiring respectful behavior, there are some who would say this dress code appears to be geared more toward cracking down on women than on respectful behavior from men.

(I mean, it certainly would make everyone happier if men were more sensitive about the length of athletic shorts worn at the house/senate basketball game and if all Looney Tunes and Tasmanian devil ties were burned – but the dress code makes no mention of these.)

Instead of forcing backward modesty standards on women, here are some guidelines that the 64th Legislature would do better to adopt:

1. Legislators shall not refer to women as livestock, farm equipment, or household pets – and when debating a bill on breast cancer prevention, shall not berate their colleagues for supporting the “boob bill.”

2. Legislators shall take a breathalyzer test before they are allowed a vote, since they seem to think drug tests should be mandated on poor families.

3. High school pages shall be allowed to learn about the legislative process and not relegated to fetching 57 ice-cream sandwiches a day while being ogled creepily.

4. Legislators shall stop trying trying to hide their actions and true plans from the public and the press.

Bozeman Chronicle reporter Troy Carter tweeted a reaction from House minority whip Rep. Jenny Eck (D-Helena) this morning.  Eck said dems had nothing to do with the dress code.

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GOP Legislature Looks at Options for a State Government Shutdown

The GOP-controlled Montana Legislature appears to be studying its options to shutdown the state’s government.

Materials posted on the legislative website from an interim committee called the Legislative Council include a report on state government shutdowns entitled “Shutdown Showdowns” from the National Council of State Legislators, which is non-partisan–along with the usual “studies” to try to justify increasing legislators’ own pay and perks.  The NCSL report has since been removed, but you can see it online here.  [screenshot]

As readers here know, when Steve Daines and his fellow Republicans in Congress shut down the government last year, the GOP’s approval rating plummeted to a record low. Montana’s economy also took a $45 million dollar hit from the shutdown of our national parks, according to Moody’s Analytics, 10/21/13 and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, 9/17/13.

Apparently that hasn’t dampened the MTGOP’s enthusiasm for shutdowns.

The Chair of the Legislative Council is Jeff Essmann.

 

Montana Legislature Looks Similar to 2013, Dems Make Small Gains

During the 2013 session the House had 61 Republican and 39 Democratic members, and the Senate had 29 Republican and and 21 Democratic members.

As of my bleary morning preliminary count, it looks like the House is 59 R and 41 D and the Senate is 29 R, 21 D.

Lots of very close races, some could be headed to recount.  I’ll have more later, and will recheck these numbers but for now I must say:

GREAT WORK MARY ANN DUNWELL!!

(And many others – Zac Perry, Mary McNally, Janet Ellis, Virginia Court, Moffie Funk, Kim Dudik, Chris Pope, Casey Schreiner- full analysis later today.)

So proud of you!

 

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.

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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NEW STUDY: Republicans Really Got This Wrong

Remember “rate shock”? For a while there all TEA party GOPers did was rend their clothing and wail about this supposed looming disaster–that Obamacare would bring drastic price increases.

Well that turned out to be bad information. In fact, so many people are getting bad information that Continue reading

Essmann Backs Candidate for Republican Leader with Militia Ties

The leader of the Montana Senate is backing a candidate for Vice-Chair of the state Republican Party with ties to the militia movement. Senate President Jeff Essmann put his support in writing–sending a letter to GOP convention delegates on official state letterhead backing Jennifer Fielder, who is a prominent member of a group linked to the Militia of Montana and a state legislator from Sanders County, where the Militia of Montana is headquartered. (This also appears to be a misuse of the state seal and official letterhead–which is supposed to be used for official state business only, not for partisan politics.)

Fielder is a leader of the innocuous sounding Sanders Natural Resource Council–the organization is the latest incarnation of the Militia of Montana. Fielder is on the group’s board of directors, according to her website. Here’s the screenshot in case this gets taken down.

Fellow Militia of Montana leader John Trochmann explains in this radio interview why the Militia of Montana is currently operating under the name Sanders National Resource Council–to evade detection by federal agents. Organizing an armed anti-government para-military group is against the law.

“For you federal agents that are listening, this movement is growing. There are sweet little units everywhere. Government, you figure it out…

Here in MT it is impossible to start an armed militia and take ‘em out and train them because of state laws…so if you want to train you have to do one thing at a time. You go out and target practice or you go out and do your skills as camping out or cold weather survival, especially like communications. We do that very well here, undetected hopefully…the name may be changed but we are still the same. “

Right now, that name is Sanders Natural Resource Council, Trochmann explains. If you wonder why the Militia of Montana would want to pose as an anti-environmental group, consider this. The militia leaders say that the biggest threat the militia sees right now is from attacks by “globalist organizations” of “environmental wackos.”

The Sanders Natural Resource Council (pronounced “SNaRC” by locals) believes that conservationists who support wildlife management of local bear populations are part of a conspiracy to conduct surveillance on the militia movement. Here’s how the bear surveillance conspiracy works:

“If you try to do anything with these bears–they have collars on them. If you try to plug a bear and the heart stops there will be a satellite over the top you instantly to take your picture of you and call out the game wardens instantly.”

“What if you plug one of the game wardens?” the host asks. To be sure, the host goes on to clarify his remark :”I was being somewhat facetious–but only somewhat, with that.”

And so, to fight the ominous threat of bear-activated satellite surveillance systems, the SNaRC Militia set about spreading fear with a spree of “town hall” meetings. GOP candidate Jennifer Fielder led the meetings, saying the Forest Service was planning a conspiracy to close down the entire forest.

At the meetings, the militia members raved that private property rights are at risk over grizzly management lines that they only just learned of. Problem is, the bear management lines have actually been on the map for thirty years.

The Militia of Montana organized from the remnants of an earlier organization, United Citizens for Justice. That was the group of angry white supremacists that formed in the 1990’s after the wife and son of white supremacist Randy Weaver were killed in a standoff with federal agents in Ruby Ridge, Idaho. The Alliance Defense League reports that “nearly all of its leaders and chief supporters were white supremacists, including Louis Beam, former ambassador at large for Aryan Nations.”

A screenshot of Essmann’s letter can be seen below:

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Rep. Hagstrom reviews BIC Soft Feel Retractable Ballpoint Pen on Amazon.com

by Lash

Rep. David Hagstrom is becoming quite the internet sensation–both for his comments on the floor of the Montana House of Representatives comparing sex to retractable pens–and for what he uses those pens to write.

Here’s the latest–an Amazon.com review of the infamous retractable pens that is making the rounds of Facebook and email.

Click the image below to enlarge and read Rep. Hagstrom’s review of the BIC Soft Feel Retractable Ballpoint Pen, Medium Point, Black, 12-Count, on Amazon.com

Hagstrom BIC Soft Feel Retractable Pen Amazon Review

 

You can now follow me on Twitter @cowgirllash Note to conservatives–Rep. Hagstrom did not really write this review, probably.

 

The Wisdom of David Howard

 

Montana legislator David Howard R-Park City at a Texas Chick fil A

by Cowgirl

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court began its consideration of the arguments about the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.  Here in Montana, Health and Human Services Committee Chair David Howard, perhaps the last person that should be permitted to make laws about health or humans, penned a bizarre and hate-filled argument of his own.

Howard has scoured the internet for world’s least credible anti-gay propaganda sites and is now spamming them out across the state via email.  Howard must spend a lot of time on such sites–his Facebook page is dedicated almost entirely to anti-gay postings (and occasional donkey porn apparently.)

With the email pasted below the fold, Howard wanted to share his views that although “homosexuals” are “deviant” drug addicts with psychiatric problems and bulimia, they can be “cured.”

Rep. Howard is also on the record saying he believes a Civil War is imminent. He also believes that “the godless liberals are forcing America’s kids to be sitting ducks” for mass murderers, and that medical marijuana leads to death.