Tag Archives: Tom Jacobson

GUEST POST: Dirty Pool in House Human Services

by Linda Gryczan, Helena Hotflash

Rep Art Wittich, (R-Bozeman), chair of House Human Services, called the committee back early from spring break to hear SB 405 by Sen Ed Buttrey, (R-Gt Falls), the compromise Medicaid Expansion bill. Representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, hospitals, business leaders and local government lined up to appeal to the Republicans on the committee.

“The fact is that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. Your job is to set aside your bitterness and take up the reality of the opportunity that is here before you, right here, right now. The principles in 405 are conservative Republican principles. I respectfully implore you not to be so blinded by anger  that you fail in your duty.”

Lewis & Clark County Commissioner Susan Good Geise

In a clearly prearranged maneuver, committee Republicans introduced a series of amendments designed to kill the bill. Over objections from the Dems, they amended Bullock’s Medicaid Expansion bill—a bill they killed just weeks before, and amended it into SB 405. They required hospitals to report on the amount of uncompensated care, then turned the bill into a referendum, before voting it down.

The Dems cried foul. SB 405 was a bipartisan compromise. It had been agreed before the hearing that a “silver bullet” would bring the bill up on the House floor. Amending the compromise legislation violated this agreement.

“In Montana a deal and a handshake matters and your word means something. These motions, these amendments, they lack integrity,
they subvert the process that we put into place.”
Rep Ellie Hill, (D-Missoula)

“It seems to escape the members of the committee that people are dying
[without medical care]…This is nothing more than games and trickery—
schemes to bypass any kind of governance by two parties.”
Rep Carolyn Pease-Lopez, (D-Billings)

“We are continuing on this bastardization process that needs to come to an end…
I’m going to have to vote no on any part of this circus.”
Rep Tom Jacobson, (D-Gt Falls)

“The people who testified today believed they were testifying in good faith and the whole time you had a substitute bill. I don’t know how you can look these people in the face. And how you can look the sponsor in the face. And the Republicans and Democrats who both agreed on this compromise.”
Rep Ellie Hill, (D-Missoula)


At 5:00 the House went into session and Minority leader Chuck Hunter, (D-Helena), objected to the adverse committee report for SB 405. Speaker Austin Knudsen, (R-Culbertson), overruled. Rep Hunter continued to object. Tomorrow the rules committee will take up the matter.

Do not let them get away with using parliamentary trickery to deny health care to 70,000 Montanans.

Rally at 11:30 on Wednesday, April 8 on the Capitol steps.

To contact your legislators–

Call:  (406) 444-4800, your message will be taken to their desk.

E-mail through online message form http://www.leg.mt.gov/css/Sessions/64th/legwebmessage.asp

Messages are printed and delivered to legislators several times a day.
Linda Gryczan


New Report Finds Montana is WORST in Nation for Employers Offering Health Insurance

New data released today by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) shows Montana ranked among the worst in the country for average annual pay (49th) and number of low-wage jobs (42nd), and dead last for employers offering health insurance (51st – report counts DC as an entity).

The data show that extending health coverage to the working poor is an even greater imperative in Montana than in surrounding states.  Wyoming, North Dakota, and Utah are moving forward with Medicaid expansion or in the case of Utah a non-Obamacare alternative like Governor Bullock has proposed.

“The overall economic wellness of our state will always be contingent on the financial health of all Montana families,” said Rep. Tom Jacobson (D-Great Falls) executive director of Rural Dynamics, Inc., an Assets & Opportunity Network lead organization in a press release. “We urgently need legislation that builds and protects the wealth of Montana’s working-class families.”

Previous reports have found that Montana is also the worst in the nation for Veterans that are uninsured or undersinsured and for uninsured Native Americans. 

To be sure, Montana does well in many categories – we are ranked first in the nation for small business creation rate.  Montana also leads the nation when it comes to the small business ownership rate. Montana ranks in the middle or better half of states in Housing & Homeownership outcomes, earning the state an “A” grade. The state also receives an “A” in the Businesses & Jobs category, which speaks to why the state’s economy is doing so well under Bullock’s leadership.  The report also notes that “Montana is one of a handful of states whose homogenous population and low cost of living have made it possible for residents to fare relatively well without significant government support,”  which further counters the myth that extreme-right legislators are attempting to perpetrate as a cover to gut assistance for the neediest Montanans.

But the report also recommended the need for policies in Montana that can build a better economic foundation for the state’s current and future workforce. Montana should adopt a state Earned Income Tax Credit and raise its minimum wage to make work pay for low-income households. For those in jobs that do not offer health care benefits, the report also recommended that Montana ensure coverage for the most vulnerable families.

Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, has introduced a bill to the Montana Legislature that would raise the hourly minimum wage in Montana by about $2, with SB 2. Sen. Mary Caferro (D-Helena) has a bill draft request in for an earned income tax credit, LC615.  And Rep. Pat Noonan (D-Ramsay) is carrying Gov. Bullock’s Healthy Montana Plan, HB 249, which is an alternative to Medicaid expansion that would cover 70,000 working poor Montanans by 2021.

To read an analysis of key findings from the 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, click here. To access the complete Scorecard, visit http://assetsandopportunity.org/scorecard. They have some neat interactive data tools, including an asset poverty calculator, downloadable infographics, customizable charts and maps, and interesting data visuals that are worth checking out.

To do something about this – the Montana AARP has a nice, simple action page up.  All you need to do is click here.


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.


Local Legislative Races on National Radar

Three Montana legislative races are garnering national attention.  National Democrats announced today that legislative contests in Great Falls, Bozeman, and Lake County are among the sixty races that are key battlegrounds for state legislatures across the United States.

The spotlight is on these key races:

Franke Wilmer v. Tom Burnett in Bozeman

Rep. Franke Wilmer served as House Speaker pro tempore and finishing second in this year’s Democratic primary for Congress.

Wilmer’s opponent is Rep. Tom Burnett, a TEA Party crackpot running on a platform of cutting food for hungry kids in need.  His ridiculous “report,”Hunger in America: The Myth, “calls for an end to food assistance programs and offers such advice to needy parents as ‘No whining,’ ‘Gather wild berries,’ and in a moment of unintended irony, ‘Expect occasional hunger.’”


Janna TaylorNancy Lindsey v. Janna Taylor in Lake County

Democrat Nancy Lindsey, who co-founded a successful software company, will likely make job creation a top issue in this campaign. Taylor, is a TEA Party Republican who claims to oppose government spending.

She’s also the number one recipient of government farm subsidy cash in the Montana Legislature.



Cyndi Baker (left) and Rep. Cleve Loney R-Great Falls (right)Tom Jacobson v. Cleve Loney in Great Falls

Democrat Tom Jacobson was the Executive Director of Rural Dynamics for ten years.   The organization promotes the “economic security of Montana’s working class.”

Jacobson is running against TEA Party loon Cleve Loney. Cleve is quite fond of costumes, as you can see from these pictures.  Loney’s platform seems to involve something about the Constitution, though it’s not clear what.

“That’s what we have to do – we have to keep it in check to where they keep the Constitution where it belongs. They are trying to shred it and we’re going to stop that because this country is founded on the Constitution and our founding fathers have a reason for putting it the way they did – limited government.”

You can read the full 2012 Essential Races list here.