The Montana GOP’s war on local governments will be a boon to Democrats in 2012, and is in direct contradiction with the national GOP message.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, rising star in the national GOP base making the case for his bill to end collective bargaining, repeatedly repeatedly argued that it would give local governments more and much-needed flexibility . As Walker and his backers had been planning this for some time, and as long as it took WI to pass this bill, they likely had multiple polls showing that increasing flexibility for local governments was such a widely popular message that they could use it to pass something so controversial.
And who could forget the two years of protests around the health care bill that created the TEA Party movement and the drum beat against the overreaching federal government into areas that conservatives say states should have the powers to decide.
TEA Partiers claimed that by passing federal laws that weren’t popular at the state level, they were engaging in nothing short of tyranny. Now, these very same people, now elected to positions at the state level are turning around and doing the same thing to local governments.
First, the House of Representatives voted to take away the right of localities to protect their own residents when it approved House Bill 516 by Havre Republican Rep. Kris Hansen. Cities have the authority to establish ordinances and policies that protect and value members of their communities that have faced a history of discrimination. House Bill 516 would not only repeal the Missoula nondiscrimination ordinance, but also existing policies and resolutions that other cities have passed to protect their residents, and would prevent any future nondiscrimination ordinances on the city level.
Senate Bill 309, by Dillion Republican Rep. Jeff Welborn, the stream access bill, and House Bill, 456 the unconstitutional bill to repeal local control for school districts in sex education and health curricula, complete the package of the GOP’s war on local governments. Montanans believe so strongly that local officials, who are closest to the people in their communities, are the best people to make school decisions that we put it in out state Constitution.
Republicans who vote for these bills are bestowing a great gift on their 2012 challengers–the ability to campaign against them by telling voters how these Republicans voted on legislation to strip local control and power from local government.
UPDATE: Read Seeing red: 71% say MT Legislature is terrible for another take on the political implications of the behavior of the Montana Legislature.