Guest Opinion: Legislative Report
February 15, 2023 | View PDF
Greetings from Helena!
We finished our 6th week, so we are one-third of the way into the 68th Legislative Session. We heard a variety of things in Judiciary this week. We heard some bills about dealing with injunctions. There are some cases where environmental groups have sued to stop mining or building projects and with no reason or a hearing judges will issue injunctions. Some of these injunctions have been around for years. We want to put a stop to this practice. We heard some bills on parent’s rights concerning Child Family Services (CFS). Another bill was to make it illegal for foreign countries to own land in Montana. It was a little scary when the Biden Administration allowed a Chinese balloon to fly across our country for a week before shooting it down. By then they probably had all the information they needed.
In Public Health and Human Services, we heard several bills dealing with CFS. We are at the top of the nation, per capita, for removing children from their homes. We have heard some horror stories of how this has happened. It looks like it is improving but there is a long way to go.
Our floor sessions have been a little busier because there are more bills coming through. Tuesday I was Chair of the Day in the Senate Chambers. We heard SB99 which is to protect children from an attempt to change their gender through surgeries and drugs. All the Democrats and a few Republicans think this process is ok. It was kind of a chore keeping order in the Chamber. The bill passed 2nd reading 28-21, and 30-20 on 3rd reading. It now goes to the House. I voted for this bill.
I just wanted to mention how proud we are of the two representatives in my senate district. Representative Phalen presented HB234, which would protect our children by keeping obscenities out of public schools. If you had seen some of the literature that is being used in some of our schools, it would make you sick! Representative Ler is carrying HB361 which gives students, teachers, and faculty immunity if they call a student by their birth name or gender instead of the name or pronoun they pick for that particular day.
There is some good and some bad being in leadership. The bad is, there is a lot of busy work. The good is that I have a voice in leadership meetings and meetings with the Governor. The big discussion in leadership is still the budget and what we are going to do with the almost $3 Billion surplus. My sentiments, which I express each time, is that we should give it back to the people who paid it. A conflicting idea is to leave it in buckets in case government gets into trouble. We all know that if it is there, they will use it to build more bureaucracy.
Dealing with the Feds is something we deal with on a daily basis. The Feds want us to have our CDL requirements in line with theirs, which is less about safety and more about control. They always threaten to hold back funding. We rejected their demand by killing SB47. It is unclear what is going to happen on this issue because there is still too much appetite around here to go along with the Feds. Another thing they are going to do is make livestock owners get a prescription from a vet every time they buy a bottle of medicine to treat their animals. We are going to try some legislation to deal with it, however we are probably going to have to comply to a certain extent or these WOKE companies won’t send us the drugs we need for our livestock.
We missed seeing everyone at GATE. And we will miss the annual Lincoln Reagan Dinner coming up Feb. 17 at the EPEC. It sounds like Congressman Rosendale will be attending. Be sure and tell him THANKS for standing strong on the vote for Speaker until they got the rules back to where they were supposed to be.
If you are ever in Helena, be sure to look us up. If you want to look up the text of a bill you can find it at https.leg.mt.gov.