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.
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.
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.Tweet
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
PANDEMONIUM IN MONTANA SENATE; Constitutional Crisis could arise
There was chaos in the Montana Senate today, with shouting, jumping, chanting and jeering. Some observers said it seemed for a while like a riot might break out.
The fun started when democrats made a motion for what is called a “Call of the Senate,” which is a demand that all 50 senators be present if any further senate business is to be conducted. At the time, Shannon Augare, a democrat, was far away on an Indian reservation.
Sen. Shannon Augare (D-Browning)
To enforce a call of the senate, the rules allow the Senate Sergeant at Arms or other law enforcement to arrest any absent legislators and haul them back to the chamber. But an Indian reservation is a sovereign nation and state law enforcement has no jurisdiction, so Augare was seemingly beyond the long arm of senate enforcement powers.
By legal right, therefore, Democrats could make a Call of the Senate and, with fewer than 50 senators present, could suspend senate business until he returned.
Is it a good thing that a “call of the senate” rule exists? It’s of the same class of parliamentary maneuvers as a filibuster in the US Senate.
But it’s the law. And that’s a real problem because republican senate president Jeff Essmann ignored the democrats’ Call of the Senate motion when they made it. He acted as if he didn’t hear it, and continued on with Senate business even though he had no right to do so. Democrats protested, and refused to vote on a series of measures that Essmann brought to a vote and then announced as having passed even though half the senate (the democrats) didn’t even vote. Things got raucous. Democrats started shouting down Essmann, banging on their desks, chanting, even standing on the desks at one point, demanding to be heard and demanding that Essmann obey the rules of order that any parliamentary leader must honor.
UPDATE:5:10 pm In case you missed it, here’s a video posted by Rep. Bryce Bennett. Here’s a link to Lee Newspapers video and ongoing coverage as well.
Why did the Democrats make this motion to require the attendance of all 50 Senators or else cease business?
Today was the deadline for ballot measures to be approved by the senate, a big date for republicans. Governor Bullock has been vetoing their nutty bills, and so they are now going to try to bypass the governor altogether and place these proposed laws directly on the ballot.
They do this all the time, with things like proposed bans on abortion or gay marriage, or changes to electoral law that will give the GOP an advantage at the polls such as closing down voting locations in the week before election day. Standard GOP crap has been effectively barred from becoming law via the traditional route, because we have a Democratic governor and because the GOP does not have enough votes to override his vetoes. Thus the GOP takes its crazy proposals directly to voters and dresses them up in seemingly neutral language, hoping to deceive them into voting for bad ideas.
And today was the deadline for the legislature to get these measures voted up so that they can be put on the ballot. So with one Senator far away in the sticks, Democrats made a smart move to run the clock out. They had every right to do so and Essmann, the senate president, had no legal right to continue business. But he did anyway, and the senate voted up a bunch of referenda with only 27 total votes, the Democrats abstaining.
UPDATE: 5:38 pmThe bills that the dems are seeking to keep off the ballot are SB 405, which repeals the right to register to vote on election day, and SB 408, the GOP’s move to keep third party candidates off the ballot. For a good summary of this issue head over to http://mtjungleprimary.com/
So the big question now is, do we have a constitutional crisis? Could Essmann be arrested for what he did? And what will be the legal status of the items that the Senate voted for today? This is not likely to be decided by the legislature, but by a court of law. If the democrats prevail in court they’ll have succeeded in keeping these referenda off the ballot. For now, its a win.
Stay tuned. This post will be periodically updated.
UPDATE: 8:13 pm Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison have the best print story out right now on how this all works. Read it in the Missoulian.They report that:
[A legislative staff attorney] told them a Senate majority could change the rules to sidestep the Democrats’ ploy, but that the House needed to change its rules as well, and that takes a two-thirds majority – and Republicans hold only a 61-39 majority in the House, six votes short.
UDATE: 8:32 pm The Senate will reconvene tomorrow at 7:00am Mountain. You can watch online here.
UPDATE: Sat 10:40 am. Sen. Sesso said on the Senate floor today that the bills Essmann is claiming to have “passed” 3rd reading yesterday actually did not pass. This means they would have missed the transmittal deadline and so are dead. The theory goes that because the law says that during a call of the senate “no motion is in order except a motion to adjourn or remove the call. The call may be removed by a two-thirds vote of the members present.” Based on this theory, the law did not appear to permit Essmann to send votes to the House, as he has done. Meaning those actions could be invalidated.
A rules committee will meet Monday. The rules committee is chaired by Art Wittich (R-Gallatin County) Priest, Sales, and Essmann are also all on it. Here’s the full list of committee members (page 2).
UPDATE: Sun 12:16 am If you’d like to watch the video of Sen. Sesso’s explanation of why Essmann’s actions were wrong, and Essmann’s response,
Click here. WARNING: Video will autoplay when you click this link.
I had to bury the clip in an old page on the site to get around the autoplay probem. The whole thing lasts about 8 minutes. Video (Note to whomever runs the legislative website – setting all your video clips to autoplay is horrific. No one will clip and use your videos if you keep these settings how they are now. Perhaps that’s what you were going for.)Tweet
Montana lawmakers who have spent the entirety of their paltry careers voting against equality now find themselves on the wrong side of history. In the wake of the upcoming supreme court decision on equal marriage, no one who reads a newspaper can come to any other conclusion. Even Rush Limbaugh says marriage equality is inevitable.
The nutjob wing of Montana’s Republican Party aren’t just wrong, they’re way out in right field, and soon to be there alone. Montana is one of only four states that has a law on the books that makes being gay an imprisonable offense. This fact alone is despicable, but when you consider what else the Montana Legislature has done you start to wonder if the Montana legislature isn’t among the most bigoted in America.
Consider this: During the past 21 legislative sessions least 32 bills have been introduced to make all Montanans equal under the law. Some, like Sen. Facey’s SB 107 attempted to repeal the “deviate sexual conduct” law, others would have prevent discrimination in housing, or stopped the bullying of young people in schools. Many have been introduced by Sen. Christine Kaufmann, of Helena.
Not a single one of these bills has ever passed in the history of this state.
But it’s worse than that. The Montana legislature isn’t content with blocking equality bills. They’ve tried year after year to make things worse. Look what they did in 1995, when Republican Senator Rick Holden added an amendment to a bill to require gay men and lesbians to register as felony sex offenders. Democrats tried to remove the amendment, but 32 of 50 Senators voted to keep it in.
It was only after twenty-four hours of scathing national press coverage from CNN that the Republicans were finally forced to take the sex offender amendment out. But not before Billings GOP Sen. Al Bishop decided to share his beliefs with the world. He said consensual activity between people of the same sex was “a worse offense than rape.” (The bill was HB 214 and predates the online legislative search.)
Anyway, the Chick-Fil-A munching bunch was not happy to be denied a “felony sex offender registry” of gay citizens. A couple of days later anti-gay slurs and graffiti were “scrawled across the doors of the capitol, and a famous statue was defaced. With no sense of irony, and no mention of the anti-gay nature of the spray-painted slogans, Senators introduced a bill to make defacing the capitol a felony.”
And who could forget what happened ten years later in 2005, when the all-day kindergarten was opposed by religious right Repubs, who claimed bill was part of the “gay agenda.” “The purported evidence given by these groups was that gay activists were NOT at the hearing, proving it was part of the activists’ secret agenda.”
Public sentiment is now so firmly behind equality that the reaction to democratic politicians who announce their support at this late date ranges from “who isn’t” to “where were you earlier.” The Montana Senate even voted, finally, to erase our “anti-sodomy law” which makes it an imprisonable crime to be gay. Although invalidated by our state supreme court in 1997, the law has remained on our books because Republicans have always refused to go along with efforts to scrap it.
Now, SB 107, a measure to strike the offensive language from our statutes finally passed the senate. That said, the vote was far from unanimous. Ten Republicans voted no.
Any day now the bill will be voted on in committee, and then on the Floor of the House. No assumptions can be made about body which includes Verdell Jackson, Krayton Kerns, David Howard and Jerry O’Neil, so start contacting the lawmakers in the House of Representatives, which you can do via this online form. FYI, you can always use the back button after submitting your message, which allows you to skip retyping all your info when you contact multiple legislators. Or you can cut and paste this list of House GOP legislators.
Conservatives were on the wrong side of history with women’s suffrage, they were on the wrong side of segregation. Let’s see whose side they’re on now.
NPR is reporting this week that the GOP is trying up it’s digital game. Republicans are taking heat because their anti-science platform and failure to embrace technology is repelling young voters.
But Montana Republicans could change the game this week at a Holiday Inn in Bozeman.
First, local repubs announced by modern email technology that former State Senator Joe Balyeat “will deliver a powerful power point presentation” this week on “Economic Freedom.” This is exciting stuff, and a major leap forward for the Montana GOP. Sure, the first emails were sent in the 1960′s, but PowerPoint first came into being as recently as 1987–and will certainly appeal to the many GOP’s who are young enough to have qualified for AARP cards in the last decade.
Senator Balyeat (pictured), though not a young person himself, was once a college student and is a “former editor of The Montana Companion,” which sounds like something a lot of young people have surely heard of. The GOP email states that Balyeat’s “list of accomplishments and awards is too long to catalogue here”–but we can at least try. He looks like a confederate general and wrote a book about how gays, the UN, and non-christians are leading America toward an armageddon.
With such an exciting, relevant speaker, a hip venue and a fascinating topic you can see that this event will be packed with youths, and not just with older men, angry and on the fringe-of society, conspiracy-theory minded, gun-wearing, Sasquatch hunters.
In all seriousness, technology isn’t the only roadblock preventing the Montana GOP from attracting young people and women. Who can forget the famous incident in Whitefish in 2010, when a burly guy with long white hair, tattoos and a mullet showed up at a female voter’s house with a gun on his belt and holding a clipboard. The woman called the police. The guy left. It was later discovered that the guy meant no harm. He was simply a canvasser, canvassing for the GOP.
That small incident in Whitefish has also played out on a much bigger stage in Montana. The Koch brothers have repeatedly failed to find a normal person, an organizer, to lead the Montana chapter of their national group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), to go around keynoting GOP events in Montana. The current guy is the Colonel Sanders wannabe. The previous leader of AFP is worse. He had been a senior member of a cult that built a $30 million underground bunker to prepare for the end of the world, which they believed would occur on April 23, 1990.
Ultimately, even embracing advanced 1990s technology isn’t going to help Republicans. They need to realize that their party is packed with lawmakers whose vision is morally bankrupt and that bigotry isn’t a viable ideology. If they can’t do this, they’re going to continue to repulse young people, women, and minorities and they will continue to shrivel and shrink.
The first step of course is getting rid of Montana’s law that makes being gay an imprisonable crime. Tom Facey has a bill that would to strike the offensive language from our statutes finally passed the senate. by passing SB 107 has yet to be voted on in the House, though it will be any day now.
Only four states in the U.S. have a law this ridiculous, and Montana is still one of them. The others are Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. That’s right, even Mississippi and Alabama don’t have this garbage in state law.Tweet
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.