A Glimmer of Hope, in an otherwise Dismal Partisan Landscape.

April 2, 2013

English: 1996 Montana Senate election results ...

Like so many of my fellow citizens, here in Montana, and across the United States, I felt forced, not encouraged, to take a side and dig in my heels for the long haul.

I knew better than to get my hopes up too high in the months leading up to the last election. After the election results came through, I got a pretty good idea of what I should expect from this legislative session. Figuratively speaking, I knew I should take a seat and get comfortable. I’m going to be here for a while.

For anybody who doesn’t know, the Republican party has the majority in the Montana House of Representatives, and the Montana Senate, but they do not have the two thirds needed to override a veto, and as most of us already know, our new Governor is a Democrat.

I’m not usually one to state the obvious, but in this case I’ll do it anyway. As long as activists like myself, keep the pressure up on our Republican legislators, I don’t think the socialist agenda is going to take a whole lot of ground in the state of Montana this session. On the other hand I don’t expect our side is going to get very far either.

Now I’m not saying that I’m entirely unwilling to give folks the benefit of a doubt. Maybe somewhat more so than other states, Montana is fairly well known for standing up against the federal government, on occasion, but so far, what I’ve seen from our current Governor, Steve Bullock, tells me he’s very much another party politician. Off hand I can’t think of a better example to give, than his recent veto of Montana House Bill 302.

For those who don’t know, Montana House Bill 302, would have made it illegal for state law enforcement to enforce any federal ban on semi-automatic firearms, and, or high capacity magazines.

This bill was sponsored by Representative Krayton Kerns (R) of Laurel. It first passed the house by a vote of 56 to 42 (1 excused & 1 absent) on the 22nd of February. It was amended in the senate, and then passed the senate by a vote of 28 to 21 (1 excused & 0 absent) on the 13th of March. It then finally passed the house as amended by a vote of 62 to 35 (2 excused & 1 absent), on the 20th of March. When the votes for final passage were cast in both houses, only one lawmaker crossed the line, Representative Bridget Smith (D) of Wolf Point. The bill was transmitted to the Governor on the 26th, and promptly vetoed on the 28th of March.

I was pretty sure of exactly where this bill was going to go, right from the beginning, but I will admit, if the Governor had signed this bill into law, I would have allowed myself to get pretty excited about the potential of this session, but that didn’t happen.

Thinking about such things puts a sour taste in my mouth, which I’m sure most of my fellow citizens, on both sides of the aisle, can understand.

However, there is another bill out there that does give me some hope for the future. Montana House bill 153. This bill will create a tax credit for employers who hire and retain military veterans.

I have been following this bill very closely, because its purpose addresses a situation that I find difficult to tolerate.

I never had the honor of serving our country as a part of our military. That path just wasn’t meant for me, but a number of people I know I did. Most of the stories I’ve gotten were just about the same. These friends were trained to be as prepared as they could be made, to go out there and put their lives on the line to protect our freedom. When they got back, the people they went out there to protect, weren’t comfortable giving them jobs, because of the nature of this training. This situation is appalling to say the least.

However, in spite of the tense partisan rivalry that is just as prevalent in Montana as anywhere, the current status of this bill, indicates this bill is likely to pass with significant by-partisan support.

According to the Montana House of Representatives website, http://leg.mt.gov/css/house this bill received a vote of 95 to 4, after the 2nd reading, on the 14th of February. After a hearing in the House Appropriations committee, this bill received a vote of 20 to 1, on the 15th of March. On the 16th of March, the 3rd reading passed 88 to 9, and this bill’s current status is listed as, In Second House Committee–Nontabled.

Although it goes against my better judgment, to jump to conclusions, I choose to expect this bill to become part of Montana state law.

I am not yet willing to allow myself to believe, that the people of Montana, lawmakers and citizens alike, are too far divided, to still seek out common ground. I encourage all of my fellow Montanans to go to this website and find out if their representative is one who supported this bill. If they are, write to them and thank them. If they are not, I suggest a letter of the opposite tone.

Mailing addresses can be found on either of these websites…



Glenn W. Uncles Jr.

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