…Roger Koopman and Bob Lake. For voting in the legislature to repeal the privacy rights of women and then for voting in the PSC to make the salaries of utility company CEO’s a secret (citing privacy concerns), Lake and Koopman are this week’s clear winners.
Roger Koopman Should Not Be In Charge of Taxi Cabs
Rep. Ellie Hill of Missoula has proposed deregulation–not of energy, but of taxicabs. Little did anyone know that the Public Service Commission is the branch of government that regulates taxis in Montana. That is ludicrous. If you’ve ever tried to get a cab in Missoula, you will know that Ms. Hill is on the right track here. There is a government-granted monopoly in the city, and that needs to change. Hill is trying to move authority over cab regulation from the PSC to the Montana Legislature. After all, can anybody, Republican or Democrat, say that it’s a good thing that Roger Koopman is in charge of taxis? The bill is LC1416.
GOP Voter Suppression Bill
The Repubs have wasted no time in trying to revive their bread-and-butter, old faithful favorite piece of legislation. Representative Ted Washburn of Bozeman has introduced a bill (HB 30) to do away with election day registration. If Washburn were from Billings, he’d not be sponsoring this bill. Voters waited on line several hours to vote in Billings in 2012, and if there had been no voting-day registration option, many would have been turned away after the long wait, even though they were lawfully qualified to vote.
Thankfully, Schweitzer vetoed the bill in 2011 and Bullock will almost certainly do so as well. Funny enough, the GOP does not believe this type of shenanigans has any political repercussions, that you can brazenly make a legislative move to take away voters’ rights and voters won’t notice. But I think they do notice, and Democrats will remind them in 2014. In fact, in 2014, Democratic volunteers should be walking the line of voters, explaining to the people waiting on the infernal line that the reason they have to wait so long, and waste half a day, is that the GOP likes it that way.
Although it’s not in the bill, Washburn told the committee he believes voting should be restricted to “driver’s license, the person that pays taxes in Montana, the person that actually resides here in Montana,” Chuck Johnson reported. Meaning if he had his way, many seniors, students, the disabled, and the very poor would not get to vote.
The Ruling Class
Washburn wants to restrict voting to taxpaying residents, but another GOP legislator wants to expand voting to non-residents–non-resident property owners, that is. Rep. Terry Murphy’s bill (SB 130) would let non-residents vote in municipal elections, including mill-levies, bonds, and candidates.
The Flathead County Commission tried a similar scheme in 2011 to decide who will control zoning in the outskirts of the city of Whitefish – the city, or the county with an “official survey.” They sent surveys to all those who owned property in the area–some of whom didn’t actually reside in the area at all. Some people got multiple votes depending on how many properties they owned. If you resided in the area, but didn’t make enough to own property, well, you weren’t allowed to voice your opinion. According to a citizens group who analyzed the survey results, “less than half, 47%, of the survey cards mailed out went to people who actually live in the two-mile area around Whitefish, while another 53% went to people who don’t even live in Whitefish.”
Speaking of stupid bills, the GOP has also revived the “immigration sanctuary bill” from 2011. An immigration sanctuary, as best I can tell, is a state of affairs in which a local government refuses to order its policemen to go hunt for dark-skinned people and ask to see their passports. This bill was vetoed last session and will be no doubt vetoed again as is it is utterly ridiculous. HB 50 is sponsored by David Howard (R-Park City).
Many Novice Legislators
Chuck Johnson has an interesting piece about a tough fact: lots of newbies in the Montana Legislature. Term limits have created a rookie majority, and several observations made in the Johnson piece are worthy of discussion and perhaps demand a re-examination of term limits. A few of the points struck me as intriguing: that the legislative branch of government is weakened by a lack of institutional knowledge that once resided in veteran legislators; that the executive has been strengthened, because legislators must rely on executive-branch bureaucrats for policy expertise; and that reliance on lobbyists for legislative expertise has become excessive. One wonders, looking back, whether Schweitzer’s successful bullying of the legislature was made easier by a weakening of the House and Senate by term limits, which eliminate veterans.
Reduce Size of House and Senate
Republican Jason Priest of Red Lodge has put in a bill to shrink the Montana legislature to 40 and 80 members, Senate and House respectively. I don’t know what to make of this, although one can assume that if a right-wing Republican is introducing such a measure, it probably disadvantages Democrats in some way. But here’s another idea: How about a unicameral legislature, like Nebraska? Actually, Nebraska has no party affiliation for members. How’s that sound? 100 legislators, one house, all independents by law.
…Roger Koopman. The honor is well-deserved.
While running for a seat on the Public Service Commission, Koopman demanded that fellow Republicans be “sanctioned” for calling him “ineffective and divisive”. He then used the first PSC meeting to vote against the PSC’s own legislative proposals–bills his fellow Republicans unanimously supported.
As the Bozeman Chronicle reported:
After one day on the job, Public Service Commissioner Roger Koopman cast the lone unfavorable votes on two PSC-sponsored bills headed to the Montana Legislature.
Koopman voted against a bill that his fellow GOP commissioners believed would fix flaws in an existing program–flaws that would force utility companies to waste money. He said he’s against fixing the problems because to do so would imply support for clean energy, which he called ”anti-market, anti-consumer and anti-freedom.”
But the hypocrisy didn’t end there.
Koopman had campaigned on what he called a ”no show, no dough” platform, saying if you don’t show up you don’t get paid. (His opponent had attended some PSC meetings by phone so he could care for his wife, who has MS.) While the other commissioners agreed to talk about their legislation at the next meeting, Koopman told them he wouldn’t be showing up. Seems he can’t even make it to the second meeting.
In a little over a month, legislators from across Montana will descend on Helena to make the laws you must live by. Let’s meet them.
1-Rep. David Howard (R-TEA Park City), Chair of the House Human Services Committee. Rep. Howard is on the record saying he believes a Civil War is imminent
2-A FRONTLINE documentary reported that documents found in a meth house indicate potentially illegal collusion between a secretive right-wing group and Republican candidates. Files on Dan Kennedy, Wendy Warburton, Mike Miller, Ed Butcher, Bob Wagner, Joel Boniek, Jerry O’Neil and Derek Skees were found so far.
3-Rep. Roger Webb (R-Billings). This recently elected GOP-er was convicted of shooting his neighbors dogs to death. It was reported in MT’s largest newspaper.
4-We now have a legislator with ties to the militia movement. Yes, Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R-TEA Sanders County) was elected and will serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
5-Then there is the GOP legislator who when called by the press about a former UM student who accused him of sexual assault, handed the phone to his mom. Rep. Nicolas Schwaderer (R-
6-Rep. Jerry O’Neil (R-TEA Columbia Falls) demanded to be paid for his legislative acts in gold and silver. O’Neil has been ridiculed for his request in the national press. But recall that last session, half of the House of Representatives voted for Wagner’s bill to require the state of Montana to conduct all business in gold and silver. This includes current GOP Speaker of the House Mark Blasdel and Republican House Majority Leader Gordon Vance and many, many others who are back this session.
7-And let’s not forget Rep. Wendy Warburton and Rep. Kris Hansen (both of Havre) who co-hosted an event with former Gov. Judy Martz to tell Montanans that the War on Women is made up. Warburton has an explanation for the lack of GOP women candidates. She said a couple of years back, that “the biggest reason that more women who are Republicans don’t get into politics is because we are the pro-family party.” Yes ladies, GOP women are home raising kids like the women of the pro-family party should be.
8-After I first blogged it here, the Chair of the MT House Judiciary Committee TEA Party Republican Krayton Kerns (R-TEA Laurel) was featured in a popular Huffington Post story for his blog post claiming that moving some bison will “topple the Republic” and lead to $25/gallon gas prices. This month, Kerns’ concern is the “imminent collapse of society.”
9-The newest member of the MT House Education committee will be an interesting addition. Republican Rep. Sarah Laszloffy, age 19, is an alum of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, where students of all ages come to learn how to live ”a supernatural lifestyle.” (And you thought Republicans opposed alternative lifestyles. Not true!)
According to the school’s website, Rep. Laszloffy and her fellow students learned how to “live the Bible,” —including useful skills such as “how to cast out demons” and other practical solutions to life’s most pressing problems. Bethel’s members also purport to have the ability to heal people through prayer and bring the dead back to life.
Perhaps the ability to bring people back from the dead will be useful. Former legislator turned Public Service Commissioner Roger Koopman threatened that if his fellow GOP legislators didn’t stop criticizing him, “Republican blood will flow in the streets.”
10-The outgoing GOP House Majority Leader, Tom McGillvray (R-TEA Billings). McGillvary tweeted (from his official Twitter account) that President Obama must release his college records so as to prove that he was not a “foreign exchange student” while he studied at Columbia and Harvard. McGillvray is termed out and his term will end this month.
Today, new evidence of the extent to which Montana’s legislature has been corrupted by out-of-state corporate interests has come to light. Citizen advocates have released documents showing that several Montana legislators received all-expense paid junkets where they were wined and dined by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The latest ALEC extravaganza kicks off tomorrow in Washington D.C.
As Cowgirl readers know, ALEC is the bane of workaday Montanans’ existence. It’s corporate America’s mainline to corrupting the lawmaking process. At lavish, closed-door “summits” they write “model bills” and instruct GOP state legislators to force them through back home.
ALEC won’t say which Montana lawmakers are showing up for tomorrow’s posh retreat. However, documents released today reveal some of the state lawmakers who were in on these junkets from 2006-2008.
This influence-buying scheme is illegal in some states, and should be in Montana. Probably some smart democratic legislator is already coming up with a bill to this effect.
The list of the Montana junkateers who are still in office includes:
Elsie Arntzen R-Billings
David Howard R-Park City
Lee Randall R-Broadus
Llew Jones R-Conrad
Cary Smith R-Billings
Wendy Warburton R-Havre
Scott Sales R-Gallatin County
Jesse O’Hara R-Great Falls
Tom McGillvray R-Billings
Roger Koopman (now on the PSC)
Verdell Jackson R-Kalispell
Jeff Essmann R-Billings
Debby Barrett R-Dillon
Rick Ripley R-Wolf Creek
Bob Lake R-Hamilton
Krayton Kerns R-Laurel
Besides those listed above there are many other legislators who are members of ALEC. Some have already been busted directly introducing ALEC bills, including: Mark Blasdel, Jason Priest, Ted Washburn, Scott Reichner, Pat Connell, Tom Berry, Jeff Welborn, and Jon Sonju.
What kind of laws is ALEC pushing this year? Lots. One way to find out if a bill is ALEC boilerplate is to compare it to the lists of the latest model legislation from the various corporations which can be found here. Examples of new model ALEC bills include:
- a law to require Attorneys General to do the legislature’s bidding,
- requirement that all public employees must personally pay the costs of producing public documents unless the printed item does not display the publication’s printing cost,
- a resolution for a constitutional convention to eliminate consumer protections,
- repeal of voting access laws,
- and ironically, a bill to create a new government commission to identify ways to cut to state government–at taxpayer expense,
and dozens more. Some of the bills are designed to enhance corporate profits by stripping consumer protections from the laws, while others are “message” bills designed to enhance GOP chances in upcoming elections by forcing democrats to vote on controversial, if impractical, bills.
In a Montana GOP “e-brief” email to party faithful, Republican State Party Chair Will Deschamps came out swinging against Republican legislators who endorsed a democrat over Bozeman crackpot PSC candidate Roger Koopman. Earlier this month, Koopman had threatened party leaders that if leadership did not crack down on the Republicans who endorsed his opponent “Republican blood will flow in the streets.”
Koopman was referring to an ad in the Bozeman Chronicle quoting a GOP legislator. Rep. Jesse O’Hara said Koopman was “one of the most ineffective and divisive people I have ever been around…In one of our committee meetings we had to restrain him from beating up one of the people testifying.” Several other prominent Republican legislators have also endorsed democrat John Vincent for PSC.
Chairman Deschamps says he wants to “discourage that behavior in strong terms.” He ”endorses Koopman wholeheartedly” and writes that “[w]ithout exception, every single Republican nominee in Montana is a better choice for the good of our state than any Democrat nominee.”
Presumably he is including the Nazi candidate on the GOP ticket from Butte and the Republican congressional candidate with KKK ties. Deschamps ends the email with a statement he claims is the “11th commandment” of Ronald Reagan, a man the Montana GOP supposedly reveres: ”thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.”
As the Bozeman Chronicle pointed out when GOP Director Bowen Greenwood made the same gaffe, it was actually California Republican Party chairman Gaylord Parkinson who said that.
Deschamps’ entire email can be read below:
As Chair of the Montana State Republican Party and a previous legislative candidate, I have been involved in a lot of elections. They have ups and downs, they have times when I have either rejoiced or regretted. Fortunately, it’s been more rejoicing than regretting.
When you’ve been through as much as I have, though, you develop a long-term perspective about the inter-personal conflicts that happen in politics. They seem small, compared to the ideals that we’re working for. The ideas last longer than the personality conflicts ever could.
Lately, there has been some controversy about a few Republicans supporting a Democrat candidate in the election for Public Service Commission. I want to discourage that kind of behavior in strong terms.
There is a distinction between primary elections and general elections. Having a robust and vigorous debate in our primaries only strengthens our party and that is the proper forum for such discourse. But once the primary is over and our voters have nominated our candidates, we need to all rally behind them to achieve success in November.
Let me be perfectly clear: Any Republican who is publicly endorsing a Democrat is doing something that I consider to be wrong. Without exception, every single Republican nominee in Montana is a better choice for the good of our state than any Democrat nominee.
Roger Koopman is our Republican candidate. Speaking as the Chairman of the party, I endorse him wholeheartedly. If the members of the party want a chair who would ever consider any vote for a Democrat, well, they will have the chance to elect one next June. For now, you have me. And I say, vote Republican. Period.
I understand that, in the rough and tumble of elections, some of us get angry at others. Heck, I’ve struggled with that too. But the good of our state is more important than any one interpersonal squabble.
Let’s not forget that, in working to end Democrat policies of the past four years, we are working for the good of our country. When one of us has trouble getting along with another, that isn’t the main issue. If nothing else, the squabble will end when we die. But the country will go on long past that. And electing the Republican candidate is what we do to try and do right by our country and state.
So I say to all Republicans, if we disagree with each other, let’s ratchet back the rhetoric. If the infighting works to keep taxes high and regulations higher, is it really worth it?
Ronald Reagan made a famous joke: The 11th commandment is, “thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” Republicans ought to live by that.
We are in the right, let’s have faith in our candidates. We can move forward as one single party with many ideas, many diverse concerns, but always with the thought that we will do what is best for the Montana citizens, now and into the future.
Montana Republican Party
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Is Now Running for State’s Top Energy Post; Says His Critics are Bigoted
Bases Beliefs on “Scientific Investigation”
I was reminded today about an amusing yet distressing incident in 2006, when Roger Koopman told a crowd of school children in Bozeman that the earth is between 4,000 and 6,000 years old.
Koopman was then a state legislator. He is now running for the Montana Public Service Commission, which has regulatory authority over many of Montana’s energy and climate policies, and other policy areas that are supposed to be informed by science.
An Associated Press reporter recorded the incident, which was instigated by Brian Schweitzer, the Governor. Schweitzer was speaking to the assembly of elementary school children about global warming and energy policy, and saw Koopman in the crowd, so he decided to have some fun. As was reported at the time:
Speaking to a crowd of school children, parents and teachers in Bozeman on Friday about global warming, Schweitzer asked how many in the crowd thought the Earth was hundreds of millions of years old. Most of the children in the audience raised their hands.
He then asked how many believed the planet was less than a million years old. At least two people, including Koopman, who was in the crowd, raised their hands.
During an interview later with the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Schweitzer noted Koopman‘s response. He said some people believe the planet is only 4,000 to 6,000 years old, despite geological evidence to the contrary.
Schweitzer said he needs support from a state Legislature that will help move Montana‘s agenda forward, ”not people who think the Earth is 4,000 years old.”
Koopman called the comments insulting.
In a later interview, Koopman said that the criticism was “bigoted” and that his belief as to the age of the planet earth “is not based on his faith but on his scientific investigations.” It would be nice to see Jon Vincent, Koopman’s opponent for the PSC seat, remind voters that Roger Koopman is a half sandwich shy of a picnic.
Then again, it shouldn’t really surprise anybody that the GOP’s nominee for this office would hold such beliefs. The Montana GOP is highly concerned with religious doctrine. Here is a series of tweets made last week by the director of the state Republican Party:
A Bozeman TEA Party candidate for public service commission is threatening that “Republican blood will flow in the streets” if party leaders don’t stop rank-and-file Republicans from speaking out against him.
In an email circulated by Roger Koopman this week to GOP party leaders, Koopman expressed his outrage that three Republican legislators have endorsed John Vincent, Koompan’s democratic opponent for PSC. Koopman writes:
I would like to call upon the executive board to take immediate action to stop any further hemoraging[sic], by publicly censuring Jesse O’Hara. Otherwise, we have not seen the end of this. It will not end until Republican blood is flowing in the streets. I can assure you I will certainly not tolerate any more of this. Not for a minuite. [sic]
Koopman is referring to quotes from Rep. Jesse O’Hara (R-Great Falls) that appeared in a flier supporting his opponent. The flyer is entitled “The Real Roger Koopman! Quotes from Repulbican State Rep. Jesse O’Hara, Great Falls.” It includes the following quotes:
“I would have to rank Koopman as one of the most ineffective and divisive people I have ever been around.”
“In one of our committee meetings we had to restrain him from beating up one of the people testifying.”
“If people want a commissioner who will keep things stirred up so that nobody works together, and everybody is often fighting, and things are in chaos, Roger Koopman is your man.”
Jesse O’Hara, Gary MacLaren, and Walt McNutt have all publicly endorsed John Vincent for PSC. Another prominent Republican, Bob Brown has given Vincent money. And word on the street is that both Alan Olson and Harry Klock — the chairs of the Senate and House energy committees that oversee the PSC — have privately told Republicans that they’ll be voting for Vincent because Koopman is, according to one of them, “another Brad Molnar, only worse.”
This is not the first time Koopman has declared war on the Republican establishment. He’s a former legislator who was the Derek Skees of his day.
In an opinion piece entitled “Is the conservative mandate derailed before leaving the station?”, Koopman expressed outrage over the lack of leadership bones thrown to the GOP’s hard-right ideologues. Koopman believed that the TEA Party delivered the GOP a “a powerful conservative mandate” in the November elections and owed the TEA Party some payback. In the past, Koopman has put out a conservative purity test for state legislators. He’s also had a half dozen PACs operating in past cycles to support primary challenges against Republican candidates who don’t meet his hard right standards.
Koopman’s entire email to Bowen Greenwood, the Executive Director of the state Republican Party, can be read below. The ad Koopman mentions is the above flyer:
From: Roger Koopman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, Oct 8, 2012 at 7:10 PM
Subject: O’Hara attacks Republican for PSC
To: Bowen Greenwood <email@example.com>
I would appreciate you forwarding this character assassination Vincent (by Rep. Jesse O’Hara) to the state board. Needless to say, O’Hara’s statement about me wanting to “beat up” a committee witness is an absurd, boldfaced lie. I never even got angry as a legislator, let alone threaten violence! He might as well have said I had sprouted three heads with horns, and had fathered 50 illegitimate kids in southeast Asia….
Bowen, this is getting WAYYYYYY out of hand in a big hurry. Vincent has another ad schedued in the dailies for Wednesday. This treachery threatens to tear our entire party apart.
I would like to call upon the executive board to take immediate action to stop any further hemoraging[sic], by publicly censuring Jesse O’Hara. Otherwise, we have not seen the end of this. It will not end until Republican blood is flowing in the streets. I can assure you I will certainly not tolerate any more of this. Not for a minuite[sic]. I am being defamed, and both my political and professional/business life destroyed.
The state party needs to step in. And long term, we need to establish some poilicies[sic] and official sanctions for this kind of despicable behavior. In the meantime, everything must be done to stop this from continuing.
Please pass this email along, together with the infamous Vincent-O’Hara ad. I hope there is no further hesitancy in taking firm action. Thank you.