A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

13 November 2017 — 0804 mdt

Special legislative session notes

The 2017 special session of our legislature convenes in less than two hours. The Republican majority has expanded the session. The governor’s proposals will be considered, but if adopted they won’t be adopted in the form proposed. I hope the legislature will adopt budget modifications, including tax increases, that prevent vital services, especially in the health and human services sphere. But I’m not optimistic. The Republicans have commanding majorities in both chambers, and believe that tax increases are intrinsic evils, not instrumental goods. That belief by definition precludes using the power of government to redress injustices and mitigate the maldistribution of wealth.

Crime may pay for Shelby

GOP Rep. Rob Cook and Sen. Llew Jones are supporting a scheme to strongarm Gov. Bullock into negotiating a new long term contract with the private prison in Shelby. In return, the prison company will return $30 million to the state’s general fund. It’s lowdown political thuggery and extortion, and Holly Michels at the Missoulian has the story and some quotes that won’t restore your faith in the goodness of humankind.

Every dollar spent on a prison is a dollar that never can be spent on a school, a hospital, a highway, a library, a performing arts center; on housing for the homeless, on food for the hungry. A long term contract with a private prison produces incentives to jail miscreants instead of rehabilitating them.

Americans for Prosperity works to keep Blasdel in its fold

Last week, I received the following card from AFP:

PDF for printing

Senate District 4, which Blasdel represents, comprises House Districts 7 and 8 in Kalispell. Rep. Frank Garner (R-Kalispell) of HD-7 introduced HB-474, the gas tax bill. Although Blasdel voted against the bill, which passed mostly with Democratic support, Rep. Steve Lavin (R-Kalispell) of HD-8 voted for it.

The Hollywood bill was HB-602, which would have revived a program that used tax breaks to entice cinema producers to shoot films in Montana. Supported largely by Democrats, it failed. The fiscal note suggested the bill would reduce revenues by $100–200k per year. AFP argued that the tax break wasn’t effective.

Blasdel opposed a bill that increased the price of gasoline for Widow Murphy, who struggles to survive on three-digit Social Security payments, and opposed a bill that would have decreased taxes on high rolling filmmakers from Hollywood. I doubt many taxpayers are mad at him for doing that.

Democrats largely supported increasing the price of Widow Murphy’s gasoline, and lowering taxes on Hollywood high rollers. I doubt that will win Democrats many votes next year.