Governor Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) is grabbing the headlines again, this time for calling state lawmakers some of “the biggest boozers.”
As the AP reports, “Schweitzer’s comments, predictably, are not sitting well with legislators.”
Of course, a lot more people than just lawmakers are in Helena when the Legislature meets every other year from January through April. Hundreds of lobbyists and interest groups come and go. And thousands of citizens testify at the Capitol on bills.
All of those people are conceivable staying in town for dinner and drinks.
“I am quite sure that 150 lawmakers don’t account for a 24 percent increase in liquor sales. Stop and think about the thousands of people that come in during those four months,” said Republican Rep. Walt McNutt of Sidney. “He is taking a pretty cheap shot there.”
The true credit to this story, though, belongs to Phil Drake at The Montana Watchdog who had this report several days ago.
He (Gov. Schweitzer) said that during the legislative session – which in 2011 runs Jan. 3 through April 21 – liquor consumption increases in Lewis and Clark County, where the state capitol is located, and decreases statewide.
According to officials from the state Department of Revenue (DOR), in January and February 2009, sales to Helena liquor stores increased by 14.47 percent over the same months in 2008. The rest of the state declined by 1.73 percent for these two months, said Cynthia Piearson, DOR public information officer.
According to Piearson: “comparing the three months of January, February and March 2009 with the same months in 2008, sales to Helena liquor stores continued to accelerate by a total of 24.19 percent for the three months (with a 42.18 percent increase in March in Helena alone).
Lawmakers, lobbyists, and others aside…give Drake credit for fully disclosing the media’s role in the shenanigans as well.
And it most certainly could include journalists who may seek courage in the arms of Jim Beam to face another four-hour hearing on topics such as harnessing the power of belly button lint.
Meanwhile- more Montana teens report smoking pot than cigarettes.
The Missoulian has this:
For the first time since 1981, the number of high school seniors reporting they had smoked marijuana in the past 30 days outnumbered those who said they had smoked cigarettes.
The rate of eighth-graders saying they have used an illicit drug in the past year jumped to
16 percent, up from last year’s 14.5 percent, with daily marijuana use up in all grades surveyed, according to the 2010 Monitoring the Future Survey.