Liberal newspaper The Missoula Independent says Montana’s Senate Democrats “failed spectacularly,” while The Daily Inter Lake editorial headline read, “senate antics shamed whole state.” To cap it all off, liberal columnist George Ochenski weighed in on the recent effort to hold a “call of the senate’ the single most destructive action to any hope of cooperation between the two political parties.”
Here’s more on how the latest news is playing out across the state, as we start with an excerpt from The Daily Inter Lake editorial which said Senate Democrats actions gave voters the impression of “immature obstruction.”
The Inter Lake editorial also noted “collateral damage” that may have occurred if bills, other than just efforts to end same-day registration and enact a top-two primary system, were blocked due to the stunt.
Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, is sponsoring a bill that would change the state’s property appraisal system from a six-year cycle to a two-year cycle. He maintains that the change to a more frequent appraisal system will be required because of recent court decisions, and if his bill did not pass this session, the Legislature would be required to hold a special session to pass it. We can’t be certain that would happen, but if it did, that would definitely amount to significant collateral damage.
On top of that, Republican senators suspect that Augare’s absence was pre-arranged, and if that was the case, it amounts to collusion in blocking the business of the Legislature.
Missoula Indy column by Dan Brooks: Dems Plan “Failed Spectacularly”
Lacking the numbers to simply vote down SB 405 and SB 408, Democrats concocted a genius plan. They sent Sen. Shannon Augare home to Browning, where he would hide while Minority Leader Jon Sesso, D—Butte, ordered a call of the Senate. That would suspend business until the transmittal deadline for the bills had passed.
The plan failed spectacularly. Instead of ordering the call of the Senate first thing and explaining to their caucus what was happening during the ensuing hours of paralysis, Senate Democrats held a party caucus to tell one another what they were doing before they did it. When the session reconvened, Senate President Jeff Essman, R—Billings, refused to recognize Sesso, preventing him from ordering a call of the Senate.
In a session that has found Democrats unable to get a property tax rebate out of committee, unwilling to compromise with the majority to implement the governor’s agenda and unequipped to even address Montana’s medical marijuana mess, Friday’s botched parliamentary maneuver tried to snatch a bite of that cake and wound up jamming a fork deep into the party’s eye.
And from Ochenski:
The single most destructive action to any hope of cooperation between the two political parties started with the failed attempt by Senate Democrats to shut down the Senate on April 5. The goal was to stop two referendum bills from being transmitted to the House and the Democrat minority attempted a “call of the Senate” to do so. Had they pulled it off, all Senate business would have been halted, the referendum bills would have missed the deadline to be transmitted to the House, and it would have taken a super-majority vote to suspend the rules of the House to accept the late bills.
But for some unfathomable reason, the Senate Democrats announced their intent to issue the call in an open caucus, immediately alerting the Republican leadership to their plans.
Adding insult to injury, the Democrats not only failed to stop the referendum bills from being transmitted, they eventually signed a letter from the Republican leadership that acknowledged their role in disrupting the decorum of the Senate, encouraging disruption from those in the gallery, and prohibiting “the practice of pounding on the desk to get recognition.” As a final indignity, Senate Republicans quickly passed a new rule requiring a majority vote for a call of the Senate, thus dooming future minorities from ever using the procedure again.