Welcome to the 64th Session of the Montana Legislature: send lawyers, guns, and money!
Week One. Hemlines, neck lines, and hate-mongering preachers.
My Week One blog post is admittedly scattered and short because I have to work, like a lot. I know this gig is supposed to be all whiskey and fat cigars, but quite frankly, it just ain’t. We are at the Capitol most every morning at 7:00 am… all of us, on both sides of the aisle. For the most part, your Montana legislators are folks who care deeply about their convictions, albeit diverse convictions, and really do want to make Montana a better place. That said, roughly like 40% of the body is new (freshman!) and it makes the learning curve tiresome and steep. Term limits are bad in a small state like Montana. I will repeat this to you often.
Back to Week One. When you have a citizen legislature who meets every other year, for only ninety days, it’s a literal cluster. It’s not efficient or smart to run anything this way, let alone a State and all its departments and employees and budget. And Week One is King Cluster!
That said, a few pieces of low hanging fruit from Week One cannot be ignored: namely “The Preacher”.
Here’s a fine article in the Helena I.R. about the “The Preacher”. He was apparently imported to Montana to spread the Love of Christ on the eve of our first day of the 64th legislative session. If I was a better blogger, I would insert a picture of me in this I.R. article wearing a sandwich board reading, “Who Would Jesus Hate?” Alas, you will need to find a better blogger.
For those of you who don’t actually click through to the terrific Helena I.R. article, here’s what you need to know:
The Preacher signed a declaration stating that the murder of an abortion doctor was “justifiable homicide”. No really, he did that. The Preacher has called homosexuality a “sickness” and declared them “disgusting” and “messed up in the head”. No really, he said that.
Perfect Preacher to kick off our fresh faced session of collegiality, no?
“It’s the depraved nature of man and that’s why it needs to be suppressed through the force of law, otherwise it proliferates within the culture to the point now where homosexuals who can’t reproduce actually adopt other people’s children to raise them.” You can watch this painful and dangerous vitriol here.
During his time in the Montana Capitol, The Preacher laid off the gays and physicians, long enough, however, to share his raging “SERMON?” to a mostly small group of Republican legislators, peppered with gems ordering them to place themselves “between the oppressor (the federal courts and government) and the victims (the citizens of Montana).” Sweet Jesus!
Since I couldn’t be there to witness The Preacher’s rant, I decided to have this imaginary conversation with him based on his quotes in the I.R.:
“You have the power to defend the people of Montana from the federal tyrants,” The Preacher says.
I reply, “Really, like even against that tyrannical black president of ours? That’s so cool. And like, the Supremacy Clause is so Civil War anyway. Let’s start our Montana militia. Let’s burn the Constitution! Down with the feds! FREEDOM!”
Yes, and “God is the ultimate authority, the ultimate law giver.” The Preacher says.
“Totally. God is the One, all the way. Ultimate fighting force and law giver. We could even go bigger and like bring in Allah and Sharia Law too. Let’s bring in all the Gods, like the Super Friends. Yo, I’m down with it!”
I mean, seriously. SERIOUSLY.
As an aside, Terence Corrigan, must be a new reporter for the I.R.-or at least new to me- but he did a great job on this piece.
(Dear Sir Terence, please introduce yourself either in the halls of the Capitol or at Blackfoot Brewery, where the Capitol reporters have their side office, as I really enjoyed this article.)
I don’t want to belabor this topic as I honestly don’t believe the vast majority of Montana GOP or even Tea Party folks believe any of The Preacher’s hateful crap. Sometimes though, I do admit, I wish a few of them would speak up and say so.
Not wanting to cast more stones, Jimmy Buffet provides how I really feel about the “The Preacher Incident” anyway. Let’s all try to be MORE kind and compassionate to one another. And that’s all I got for tonight and Week One. AMEN!
Day One: We are all here and ready to serve!
Rep. Jenny Eck (Helena- D) and family
Rep. Tom Jacobsen (Great Falls- D)
Rep. Pat Noonan (Butte- D) and Rep. Andrea Olsen (Missoula- D)
Rep. George Kipp III (Heart Butte- D)
Speaker Austin Knudsen (Culbertson- R) and family
Rep. Matthew Monforton (Bozeman- R) and myself escorting Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike McGrath to administer the Constitutional oath.
Speaker Austin Knudsen and Charlie Russell’s keeping a watchful eye on him.
Speaker Austin Knudsen (Culbertson- R) and family
…the kids saw their Dad named Speaker for the first time!
Rep. Bryce Bennett (Missoula -D) and my freshman year roommate!
Rep. Margie McDonald (Billings- D) and her lovely kids
Rep. Nancy Wilson (Missoula- D) and her husband Missoula City Councilman Alex Taft
Rep. Kathy Swanson (Anaconda- D) and her daughter, Dayna Swanson, Senator Jon Tester’s State Director
Rep. Christie Clark (Choteau- R)
Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch
Selfie with the Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court… his first!
Rep. Gordon Pierson (Deer Lodge- D)
Rep. Janet Ellis (Helena- D)
Rep. Willis Curdy (Missoula- D)
Rep. Kim Dudik (Missoula-D) and family
Rep. Casey Schreiner (Great Falls- D)
Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell (Helena- D)
Rep. Kelly McCarthy (Billings- D), Rep. Jessica Karjala (Billings- D), Rep. Ed Lieser (Whitefish- D), Rep. Christopher Pope (Bozeman- D)
Rep. Nicholas Schwaderer (Superior- D)
Lindsey Grovom, Chief Clerk
Rep. Daniel Zolnikov (Billings- R)
Rep. Denise Hayman (Bozeman- D) and Rep. Kathleen Williams (Bozeman- D)
Rep. Moffie Funk (Helena -D) and Derf Johnson from the Montana Environmental Research Center
The First Men of Rep. Edie McClafferty (Butte- D) and Rep. Virginia Court (Billings- D)
Senator Lea Whitford (Dut Bank- D) and family
Team Missoula: Rep. Tom Steenberg and Rep. Bryce Bennett, both Democrats