Two For Thought

Legislative Session Begins

Same topic, different views

By Tim Baldwin

Montana’s legislative session is upon us. Republicans control the House and Senate. What might Montana expect to see this 2017 session?

Everyone has pet issues. Those will determine how one perceives the legislators. Very few will consider the constitutionality of the bills and will judge mostly on how it benefits them personally. Good and bad will result depending on one’s perspective. For example, this Legislature will likely pass bills that expand police power but reduce taxes and regulations. Good or bad?

This is how political parties and cycles go. Attorneys and judges will have to deal with the constitutionality of the laws in the courtroom and the public will have to assess whether the system created by these laws are good for society as time tests their prudence, whether the Constitution should be amended, laws repealed, party platforms amended, etc.

That said, the proposal for amending the Constitution to impose term limits on Congress crosses political boundaries and ideology and cuts to the quick of many problems America has seen in federal politics. Most would agree, it is time that the people limit how many terms politicians can run for congressional office.

By Joe Carbonari

Montana’s 2017 legislative session is underway and, as usual, the start included a gathering of chambers of commerce members, and staff, from across the state. The idea is to facilitate conversation between legislators and the business community and to give the business community an idea of what to expect from the session.

While I believe that most all of our legislators come to Helena with the best interests of their constituents in mind, the partisan overlay is all but overwhelming. It should not be.

Statesmen and women are needed in both parties to quiet the squabbling and advance the bigger picture. Unfortunately, neither the Republican nor Democratic leadership seemed up to the task.

The Senate president was partisan in his comments and the House majority leader even more concerning in his self-assuredness.

Their democratic counterparts were less partisan but also concerning. The Senate minority leader is experienced and knowledgeable, but reeked of resignation, prepared for defeat. The House minority leader made a weak defense of educational needs.

We are short of revenue because of downturns in agriculture and energy sectors, not because of malfeasance and regulation as charged. We will require more revenue. The state is growing, not shrinking.  Rigidness of thought, and timidity of character, must give way to vision, collaboration, and courage. Who will lead?