Kerns: We Lost the Battle; Politics a Blood Sport.

Flathead Beacon: How’d Tea Party Fare in Leg?

Republicans, many of whom enjoyed the backing of tea party-style political groups, stormed into Helena with strong majorities for the 2011 Legislature. And over the course of the session some of the bills backed by tea party Republicans, like measures aimed at nullifying federal laws or introducing a gold and silver standard for currency, drew national attention.

But few of those bills passed the Legislature, and the handful that did met their demise under the veto pen (or branding iron) of Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat.

Skees (Rep Derek Skees of Whitefish) said he learned in his first session how much power the executive branch wields, and recommended how tea partiers could be most effective in reaching their political goals: “If you want a change, get a good governor.”

Laurel Outlook:  Kerns says the GOP lost the battle 

From Rep. Krayton Kerns’ (R-Laurel) perspective, Montana Republican legislators, who had controlling majorities in the House and Senate, lost the 62nd Montana Legislative Session before the first bill was introduced.

“We lost the battle the day the House and Senate selected moderate, compromising, consensus building, capitulating leadership. I could go on … but I think you get the picture,” he said Monday.

“Politics is a ‘blood sport’ here in Helena, and no one practices it better than Governor Schweitzer. In the end, he got everything he wanted, even though we (Republican legislators) went to Helena with controlling majorities in both the Senate and the House.”

Rep. Janna Taylor in The Lake County Leader

The governor signed the budget bill. I was surprised at his statement that the Republican leaders did not live up to their promises. Senate President Peterson and House Speaker Milburn wrote the agreement down at the time they spoke to the governor. The governor said the final budget is much like the one he proposed in the very beginning. So why all the posturing?

My bill, HB 405, was called bizarre by the governor. If a doctor does not practice defensive medicine, meaning not over-prescribing tests and medicines, he or she would have a bit of civil immunity. A dozen doctors from all across our state showed up to testify in favor as well as hospitals and insurance companies. The only opponents were three trial lawyers.

Belgrade News: Wilmer considers federal marijuana law a problem.

In the case of medical marijuana, Rep. Franke Wilmer, D-Bozeman, said the Legislature was left with trying to sort out the intent of the voters who passed an initiative back in 2004. One of the main problems, she said, is the federal government’s view that marijuana distribution and consumption is considered a crime.

The result is the state is left with the responsibility of trying to create a regulatory framework, she said.

Rep. Tom Burnett, R-Bozeman, said Montana’s workers compensation rates were the highest in the nation before the Legislature started, and while the rates will decrease some because of a law passed this year, lawmakers still need to do more to make the state competitive.

The Daily Inter Lake: Gov took a swipe at tort reform.

State Sen. Verdell Jackson said Schweitzer vetoed a record 79 bills from the recently completed legislative session. That broke his record of 20 vetoes in 2007, Jackson said.

He also noted that Schweitzer vetoed seven tort reform bills.

Billings Gazette editorial:

The governor and his leadership team could have done a much better job of communicating with lawmakers. One example of this was the $20 million “hole” in the Medicaid budget that “surprised” an appropriations subcommittee in mid-February. This adjustment of Medicaid spending projections should have been anticipated by both Department of Public Health and Human Services leadership and by the committee.

The governor made an already contentious climate more so by staging a “veto branding.”

However, Republican leaders’ strategy was no better. Rather than sending bills to Schweitzer when approved, they held many pieces of legislation for weeks, so Schweitzer wouldn’t get them in time to propose an amendatory veto, which can only be done while the Legislature is still in session.

Montana Standard: MEA-MFT Praises Schweitzer

I know it troubles you as much as it troubles me that your fourth and last legislature flat refused to ratify the modest increase in state employee pay that we bargained.

The pay plan barely escaped the House Appropriations Committee only to die an ignominious death in the full House on the next to the last day of the session.

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