Republican leadership still trying to suppress MT voters

In Thursday’s House Judiciary hearing on Senate Bill 305, Republican leadership dug in their heels about suppressing voter turnout while countless other Republicans, Democrats and everyday citizens voiced their support for voter access.

SB 305 is the Republican-sponsored legislation introduced to make sure this spring’s special Congressional election is conducted as a mail-ballot one in order to increase voter access and save county election officials more than $500,000 this spring.

SB 305 has bipartisan support. However, Republican leaders like Rep. Jeff Essmann and House Speaker Austin Knudsen are trying to kill the bill.

Even Secretary of State Corey Stapleton has moved to the extreme right on this bill and doesn’t care that he’s creating extra expenses for the 56 county elections officials charged with conducting this special election. During testimony on SB 305 on Thursday he called their estimated cost “hypothetical.”

“There is nothing hypothetical about county election officials — both Republicans and Democrats — trying to save taxpayers at least half a million dollars,” said Nancy Keenan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party. “Republican leaders, including our own statewide election administrator Corey Stapleton, are only interested in suppressing voters’ voice. That’s not how democracy works in Montana.”

Montanans not so lucky with Republican budget slashes

Republican House leaders are leaving Montana’s seniors, children and families feeling less than lucky this St. Patrick’s Day after recklessly slashing and approving a whittled down state budget that won’t work for hard-working Montanans.

During Thursday’s floor debates, Democratic representatives brought 26 amendments to the floor to try and fix some of the mess Republicans had made of the budget. Ultimately, though, they all failed along party lines.

The result? An appropriation bill riddled with shortcomings for the critical services that Montanans depend on. Here are a few that cut the deepest:

“House Republicans are failing Montana’s hard-working families,” said Nancy Keenan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party. “This is not fiscal responsibility. These reckless cuts are going to have real impacts on all Montanans for years to come. We can do better than this.”

Why isn’t Insurance Commissioner Rosendale stepping up for MT firefighters?

As House Republicans in the Montana Legislature voted down a bill to take care of Montana’s hard-working firefighters yesterday, it begs the question: Where was State Auditor and Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale?

Rosendale’s job title also includes commissioner of insurance and securities, but the Republican State Auditor has failed to lead on this issue — even as one firefighter from Great Falls is fighting for his life due to the perils of the job.

“The job of the State Auditor is to is to be an advocate for Montanans when it come to healthcare and insurance,” said Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Nancy Keenan. “Insurance Commissioner Rosendale was missing in action when Montana firefighters were pleading with legislators to do the right thing for them and their families as they put their life on the line for ours.”

SERIES: The MTGOP’s Misplaced Priorities

Republican Legislators Put Political Agenda Ahead of Montana Jobs

The Montana Democratic Party today continues “The MTGOP’s Misplaced Priorities” campaign highlighting Republican Legislators’ focus on backward legislation that benefits their political agenda, ahead of legislation that promotes job creation or strengthens our economy.

This week saw the introduction of Senate Bill 329, from Sen. Keith Regier (R-Kalispell), and a House Judiciary hearing on SB 282, from Sen. Albert Olszewski (R-Kalispell), both of which restrict a woman’s right to make her own personal healthcare decisions.

Montanans don’t want politicians like Sen. Regier and Sen. Olszewski making their healthcare decisions for them. Personal healthcare matters should be kept between a woman and her doctor, her family, and her faith.

Both of these bills are an unconstitutional restriction on reproductive healthcare and in the case of Sen. Regier’s bill, a similar piece of legislation in Idaho was recently struck down by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Sen. Regier and Sen. Olszewski’s bills are just another unnecessary Republican attack on women’s health instead of focusing on creating high-wage jobs and growing Montana’s economy.

Montanans deserve better.

Republican Legislators Put Political Agenda Ahead of Montana Jobs

SERIES: The MTGOP’s Misplaced Priorities

The Montana Democratic Party today continued “The MTGOP’s Misplaced Priorities” campaign highlighting Republican Legislators’ focus on backward legislation that benefits their political agenda, ahead of legislation that promotes job creation or strengthens our economy.

Today’s example is SB 282, a bill from Sen. Albert Olszewski (R-Kalispell) that restricts a woman’s right to make her own personal healthcare decisions.

Montanans don’t want politicians like Sen. Olszewski making their healthcare decisions for them. Personal healthcare matters should be kept between a woman and her doctor, her family, and her faith.
Sen. Olszewski’s bill is just another unnecessary Republican attack on women’s health instead of focusing on creating high-wage jobs and growing Montana’s economy.
Is this what Montanans voted for?

MT Republicans Kill Paycheck Transparency

On the heels of one of the largest women rallies in Montana history, Montana Republicans in the Legislature failed to do what’s right today and support Montana women by passing the Montana Paycheck Transparency Act.

The Governor’s legislation, (Senate Bill  217), carried by Sen. Diane Sands (D-Missoula), was tabled by Republicans on a party-line vote Friday morning. The legislation would have prevented employees from being fired for talking about their salaries with coworkers and prohibited employers from requesting previous salary and benefit information from job applicants. The important legislation aimed to advance pay equity by promoting wage transparency, minimizing discriminatory practices and increasing career opportunities for Montana women.

“Our Republican colleagues had the chance to support equal pay for equal work and pass the Paycheck Transparency Act to support Montana families, but they failed,” said Nancy Keenan, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party. “This legislation has been long overdue and would go a long way to help solve the wage gap in Montana.”

GOVERNOR BULLOCK HIGHLIGHTS INFRASTRUCTURE AND BUDGET PRIORITIES

Governor Steve Bullock yesterday highlighted infrastructure and budget priorities during an address at the Montana Association of Counties (MACo) Midwinter Conference, and urged legislators to act quickly now that Montana is more than one-third of the way through the 65th Legislative Session.

Governor Bullock asked for support from MACo in urging legislators to get an infrastructure bill to his desk.

From East to West, we have scores of projects that we need to get done, putting people to work to build Montana’s economy,” said Governor Bullock. “Let’s make sure this generation of Montanans is able to get dirt moving on shovel-ready infrastructure projects now – putting thousands of Montanans to work. Please call your legislators and tell them to pass this bill.”

House Bill 14, the Governor Bullock’s proposed infrastructure plan, advanced through the Joint Subcommittee on Long-Range Planning last week and is currently waiting for a hearing in House Appropriations Committee. The Build Montana Plan would make a $292 million investment in infrastructure financed through a responsible mix of cash and bonds, and create over 1,900 jobs for Montanans.

Governor Bullock also discussed the budget and his concerns for cuts that lawmakers have proposed that would hurt Montana kids, seniors, and their families.

Montanans expect our state leaders to live within our means and to make responsible, at times difficult, decisions about our state finances,” said Governor Bullock. “While Montanans expect us to balance our budget, they also expect us to invest in areas that grow our state’s economy and ensure the economic and socioeconomic well-being of our friends, families and neighbors.

Governor Bullock has proposed a budget that calls for a modest total biennial spending increase of 1.4 percent, and makes responsible decisions about state finances while investing in areas that grow the state’s economy and create jobs. Republican lawmakers have proposed slashing nearly $120 million from critical community services for Montana families, seniors and children.