With Congress and the Montana Legislature both in session, there is a lot of news to share with you…so let’s kickoff the weekend with your Weekend Wrap.
The latest whip count on the Keystone pipeline in the US Senate. Daines pictured at the GOP retreat in Pennsylvania (plus- an interesting historical note mentioning Daines by Jamie Dupree). Ryan Zinke backs up the “bulldog” Trey Gowdy. The “Green Decoys” target astro-turf sportsmen groups in Montana. We’ve heard about the drop in oil prices for the Bakken, but what about the drop in copper prices for Butte? And, The LA Times sums up the dashcam video after a Billings, Montana police officer shot a man known for several run-ins with the law. All that and more is in your Weekend Wrap below.
Everybody loves the crew at The Montana Mint. Well, now they have this via The Billings Gazette: “Must Follow” Twitter accounts for the Legislative session.
The Montana Legislature kicked off this week and the Montana Mint has the list of the reporters, blogs and legislators you need to seek out to keep up with what’s happening in Helena.
Looks like your lowly radio host and blogger even made the list:
@aaronflint: The guy in Montana radio, Flint knows the political landscape in Montana as well as anyone else we’ve come across. Unapologetically conservative and undeniably interesting to follow.
Speaking of the #MTLeg (Montana Legislature hashtag on Twitter)…If Montana really wants to support pre-k, here’s what Rob Port has to say from a similar debate in North Dakota: Possibility Of Vouchers Is Only Reason To Support Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education is a fashionable thing in education policy circles these days despite strong evidence that pre-kindergarten education produces few measurable academic improvements for kids.
But emotions (it’s for the kids!) matter more than facts when it comes to education policy, so we’re just going to have to ride this one out. Still, if we’re going to do early childhood education, why not make it a voucher system which directs public dollars to the public and/or private programs parents choose to send their kids to?
Again, I don’t think early childhood education is worth the dollars spent on it, but if it could get a foot in the door for school choice policy, I’m all for it.
Montana’s Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT) is getting some pats on the back from conservatives via social media…as he’s shown backing up the “bulldog” Trey Gowdy on the floor of the US House. Check out the video below, as I first spotted via the Newstalk 730 KYYA Facebook page.
WesternJournalism.com: Trey Gowdy Votes To Stop Executive Overreach And Hits Out At Obama In The Process
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) took to the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday morning to block President Obama’s executive action overreach on immigration. Gowdy voted for H.R. 240 to fund the Department of Homeland Security through September 2015. Gowdy said that millions of immigrants will receive benefits under the president’s plan.
Read more at http://www.westernjournalism.com/trey-gowdy-votes-stop-executive-overreach/#uCPZHI0q1UhmEOih.99
National Review: GOP Rep: Secure the Border Between Iraq and Syria
Representative Ryan Zinke (R., Mont.), a Navy SEAL turned freshman congressman, says the fight against ISIS will require a secure border — between Iraq and Syria — which would bisect that region controlled by the terrorists.
“Air operations alone will not be effective against ISIS,” Zinke tells National Review Online. “I do think we need to address, no doubt, isolating the border between Iraq and Syria and that’s a no-fly zone with blocking forces on the ground.”
Zinke also said that the U.S. southern border needs to be secured, for national defense reasons. “In the last six months, the reports I have [are] that individuals representing 168 countries were apprehended on our southern border,” he said. “This country built a panama canal in the 19th century. I think we’re up for a fence in the 21st.”
— Heather Swift (@hswift) January 16, 2015
Some groups claiming to represent sportsmen have surprising ties to radical, left-wing environmentalists. Learn more at http://www.greendecoys.com/
From The Economist: Falls in the price of copper, which hit its lowest for more than five years this week, are less cheering. The red metal is known as Dr Copper for its supposed ability to predict where the world economy is going.
Wall Street Journal: OBAMA TRIES TO WOO GOP ON HIS PRIORITIES
President Obama, meeting with leaders of the new Congress yesterday, said he would work with Republicans on areas where their interests converge, including trade, simplifying the tax code and national-security issues. Republicans left the White House meeting seeing opportunities for cooperation on possible cybersecurity legislation and authorization for the use of military force against Islamic State. But the GOP leaders also drew a sharp line on issues including immigration and energy.
TIME.com: Immigration Sours GOP’s Sweet Retreat
From left, Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., prepare to board a tour bus to join Senate and House Republicans at a two-day policy retreat in Hershey, Pa. on Jan. 14, 2015 in Washington.
PIC from GOP Retreat can be found here.
Jamie Dupree (rockstar newsman who joins Sean Hannity each day) on Senators giving their first speeches in office:
The start of a new session of Congress means learning new faces, and new members learning the ropes. Some jump in with both feet and seem like they’ve been there for years – others wait on the sidelines to get a flavor of what’s ahead.
For example, it was noted earlier this week that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) waited 17 months before giving his first floor speech in the Senate – that “maiden” speech used to be a big deal for new Senators, but now some hardly wait but a few days before taking the floor for the first time (Sen. Steve Daines of Montana only waited two days this year.)
The Hill’s WHIP LIST: Senate fault lines harden on Keystone debate
Senate fault lines on the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline appear set as lawmakers begin their debate on authorizing the controversial energy project.
Within those 37 “no” votes, there are perhaps four members who could switch sides. Few believe they will, but the numbers bear watching as the debate continues.
The Senators Keystone backers hope to sway? Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sen. Angus King (I-ME), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM). And yes, Udall is the brother of the former Democratic Senator from Colorado who got booted from office in part due to his opposition to the Keystone pipeline.
Speaking of Keystone…
By the way, both Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Steve Daines (R-MT) are hoping to add an amendment to the Keystone Pipeline bill dealing with the Air Force’s planned Powder River Training Complex in SE Montana (which is strongly supported by Commerce Committee Chairman, Sen. John Thune (R-SD)… (Note- originally used the word “blocking” the PRTC, updated to say “dealing with”)
Two reactions with insight from me: 1. If the president is already threatening a veto, are they attaching it to already destined-to-fail legislation? 2. Wouldn’t this also give the president one more reason to veto the bill?
(Updated note added Friday at 7:10 PM– if the amendment merely deals with low-level airspace concerns, it may not end up being an issue that would block the PRTC anyway. An added question; though, is why Senators supporting the pipeline would want to bog debate down with any additional amendments at this time.)
The Western Word: Another Hail Mary
In case you have not heard about PRTC, if approved, it would extend into southeastern Montana an air training area that would be used by B-1 and B-52 airplanes from Minot and Ellsworth Air Force Bases in North and South Dakota. Other planes from other bases could use the area, too. It would expand to about 28,000 square miles from the current 8,300 square miles that is used for training.
This time Tester and Daines will attempt to amend the Keystone Pipeline bill in the senate with language “to prohibit the Air Force from occupying low-level airspace over a crucial onramp for Bakken oil in Baker, Montana.”
The Western News: County commissioners send letter to Sen. Daines
In response to the letter, the commissioners requested changes to the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Protection Act, as well as expressing support for the other legislation aimed at increasing timber production and active forest management.
The commissioners expressed their support for a number of bills introduced in the previous congressional session. Specifically, they called for passage of the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act and for a package of four bills that update the Endangered Species Act.
The Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act requires the forest service to produce a minimum of 50 percent of the sustainable yield of timber each year on lands specifically identified by the service for timber harvests. It also creates “Community Forest Demonstration Areas” that allow states and counties to actively participate in the management of forest service timber areas.
A dash cam video showing a sobbing Montana police officer minutes after he shot an unarmed man during a traffic stop has circulated on the Internet, marking the latest officer-involved shooting — only this time it was the aftermath that was caught by a police camera and made public.
Dennis Kenney, professor of criminal justice at John Jay College and a former Florida police officer, said powerful evidence could come from police cameras.
“Given [Ramirez’s] history, the cop’s remorse and his declaration during his reaction that he thought the guy had a gun, I imagine the video was pretty compelling to the inquest,” he said in an email.
And now, from the other side of the world…
The New Zealand Herald- Bay News Bites: Fun at Waitangi
A vicious assault on two young American tourists in Paihia – and their father’s heart-felt letter of thanks to the people of Northland for the help the pair received after the attack – has been making headlines in their home state of Montana.
Jacob’s father, Brad Ulgenes, a Lutheran pastor, was interviewed on the Voices of Montana radio talkback show.
In his letter to the Advocate, Mr Ulgenes wrote: “I would only hope that if someone from Paihia were to experience a similar trauma here in Montana that we would be as helpful and responsive. Thank you for your care and concern.”
By the way, to listen to the show featuring Pastor Brad…click here to listen to our podcast audio.