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A timely (and hopefully entertaining) update (and unsolicited perspectives) provided by Shantil Siaperas–MACo Communications Director & Editor of MACo’s Legislative Update–to keep you apprised of what’s happening on the Hill during the 2023 Legislative Session.

An Update & Unsolicited Perspectives Provided by Shantil Siaperas, MACo Communications Director & Editor of MACo’s Legislative Update

MACo's Legislative Update

Volume 27, Issue 15
Published May 1, 2023
Published May 1, 2023
Volume 27, Issue 15

(If you’re not interested in the meandering thoughts of a rambling lobbyist and just want to checkout MACo’s Legislative Update, I sympathize. Click the button below for instant access to our fifteenth issue of the session.)

Access the 15th Issue Here
Continue Reading the Unsolicited Perspectives and Meandering Thoughts of a Rambling Lobbyist…

The Final Countdown

Well, hey there MACo Folks!

It’s Monday. It’s the morning. And it’s now May. There is no happiness…nope…not one single ounce of happy anything…with only five days remaining in the 68th Legislative Session—that should’ve ended last week—it’s officially the final countdown…except none of us feel like Rocky Balboa winning his big fight. Instead, we’re all “the other guy.” All of us. Just lying in a pool of pain on the ground while spectators stare questioningly.

Even Legislators are barely standing, and it’s a miracle Legislative Staffers can put together full sentences at this point let alone hold the entire process together (seriously, thank the Staffers—they’re the golden angels of that giant stone, cold building).

How are MACo Staff holding up?

…Let me paint you a picture…

Yours Truly has been staring at a wall murmuring, “[expletive] stupid [expletive] bill [expletive]” for longer than I care to admit…Karen Alley booked a trip to Scotland and is seriously considering purchasing a plot of land to start a feline farm…Jason Rittal refuses to leave the Capitol Building, and I’m fairly certain he chained himself to a chair or a bathroom stall and is planning his next move via a tiny chalkboard we all know he carries around in his bag…and our fearless leader? Eric Bryson? Pretty sure his head exploded a couple of weeks ago…

It’s. Been. Fun.

Wow! What Happened?

(Don’t act like you don’t already know.)

How do I explain the last week(ish) of the session? … … … There really are no words. Zero. Zip. Zilch. And if you have eyes and/or ears or have been to the Facebooks or the Twitters or just the internet highway in general…or maybe you perused your local newspaper…or the New York Times—whatever it may be—you know that things have completely and entirely amuck under Liberty’s Dome. COMPLETELY and ENTIRELY (repeated in all caps just for emphasis).

  • Zombie bills have again risen from their graves…same zombies, different graves (i.e., same idea, different bill).
  • Protesters protested in the House Gallery; therefore, riot shields did what they do best (first time in my seven sessions that I’ve seen either of these things occur).
  • There is unrest in both chambers due to a very plump and porky budget…among other things.
  • The rules were suspended to extend deadlines…for the third time? (I’ve lost count.)
  • And most importantly, no one has gone home. NO ONE. And they never will. Ever. NEVER. EVER. (Head? Meet wall, again…and again…AND AGAIN.)

Tis the session for repetitive actions AND inactions leading us all into the depths of insanity. Yey.

Seeing is Believing

Words can’t explain. But video can!

I’m not willing to wade my opinions into the dark waters of what’s been happening that last 10(ish) days. HOWEVER, I’m more than happy to share the show with you!

Simply click the links below and go to the times indicated.

Executive Action Shenanigans

Thursday, April 20 – Senate Finance & Claims Committee

House Bill 5 has to do with long range appropriations—it primarily appropriates money for projects and repairs related to State buildings. During the executive action session on April 20th, committee members amended the bill with several items that normally wouldn’t go into HB 5. It ended with the Chairman recessing the meeting, returning approximately 20 minutes later, suspending action on the bill, and postponing the State’s big surplussed budget bill’s (HB 2) floor session from the following day (Friday) to Monday, April 24thClick here for video (17:52:52) >>

 

Protesters in the Gallery

Monday, April 24 – House Floor Session

Senate Bill 518 is bill that revises parental rights laws and increases parental involvement in education. During the House Floor Session on April 24th, visitors filled the Gallery, and began protesting toward the end of SB 518’s 2nd Reading…Click here for video (15:36:51) >>

 

More HB 5 Shenanigans

Friday, April 28 – Senate Floor Session

House Bill 5 (the long range appropriations bill discussed above) had its day on the Senate Floor for 2nd Reading on April 28th. It began with another proposed amendment, continued with the Majority Leader talking about pork and greed, and closed with the bill carrier saying he wasn’t going to vote for it. Immediately afterwards the body voted—HB 5 passed—and a heavy silence filled the air. The group then recessed, came back about 6 minutes later, and adjourned…Click here for video (16:29:49) >>

Final thoughts

I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.

To conclude, I’ve always thought that people in Montana were/are special. We stop when someone needs help. We open doors for everyone and their dogs…literally. We don’t care what ANYONE else thinks about who we are, what we do, where we live, how we live, or what we look like. We have incredible amounts of integrity. We treat others as we would like to be treated. We love our families and friends, and we respect our neighbors and strangers. We don’t subscribe to what main-stream media tells us when it comes to beliefs…or fashion. We don’t listen nor trust ANYONE from D.C.—notta one of ‘em (learned that one when I was just a wee little pair of pigtails). We protect both the freedoms we like as well as those we don’t. And we think for ourselves.

I still believe these things. But after the wild ride we’ve had this Session coupled with the happenings of the previous week(ish), my once solid foundation is cracking. So instead of sitting around and wallowing in self-pity, here’s some advice to myself and others who find themselves…not mad…just flat disappointed: Unplug. Sign out of the Facebooks and the Twitters. Click off the computer. Put the phones and tablets away. Turn off the T.V. Place the newspaper in the round bin. Shower off those layers of cynicism and jaded grit. Go outside. Look at where you live. Listen to the birds. Breathe the fresh air. Walk around. Talk to real people. Hear their real words. And, hey, check out that sky…

I think we can all agree that politics make a mess of the mind, especially these days when everyone and their social media account has an opinion. We’re almost to the end of these very long 90 days, and it’s time to get back to basics and see that things aren’t all that bad. And they never will be. Not in Montana. We are not other States. We are not other people. We just need to remain the solid, honest folks we were raised to be. Do the good. Be the good. Say the good. Send the rest to the city. It doesn’t belong here. Just my two cents.

PS – 5 Legislative Days remaining…hopefully…

PSS – House Bill 2 – the State’s big surplussed budget bill – passed 3rd Reading in the Senate on Friday. So that’s nice. Consider my hope for a SLIGHTLY early adjournment momentarily reignited.

(I’m not crying. You’re crying.)

And Don’t Forget…

If you find yourself on uneven footing during the legislative session at any time, no worries. We’re here to help keep you apprised of what’s happening on the hill. Every week until Sine Die during these trying and perplexing times (i.e., the Legislative Session), we’ll be releasing a new issue of the MACo Legislative Update (linked below and above).

Each issue always has an up-to-date session calendar, an easy-to-print bill hearings schedule for the upcoming week, and the status of all the bills we’re currently watching as well as those in which we’re actively involved. Click the button below to check out the new issue.

Pro Tip: Our website’s hearing schedule is updated daily, with new hearings added as the week progresses, so be sure to check it out! It also has links to testify remotely and/or submit written public comment as well as watch legislative bill hearings.

For other pertinent information regarding the legislative session, visit the policy section of our website.

That’s all for now! See you either virtually via the internet highway or in the halls!

—Fin.—
(the end…of the update, not the session, obvi)

Questions?

Eric Bryson

Executive Director
Phone: 406-461-2084
ebryson@mtcounties.org

Jason Rittal

Deputy Director
406-441-5464
jrittal@mtcounties.org

Karen Alley

Associate General Counsel
Phone: 406-441-5472
kalley@mtcounties.org

Shantil Siaperas

Communications Director
Phone: 406-925-1134
shantil@mtcounties.org