This year, riding a fervor of Tea Party “down with big government, down with Obama” rhetoric, a number of Tea Party candidates were elected to the State House. The State House had a 68-32 Republican edge (after being fairly close to 50-50 before the election.)
The Tea Party candidates campaigned on jobs, the economy, lowering taxes and somehow stopping “Obamacare” from being implemented. It was obviously a successful strategy.
But, the Montana State Legislature has hit its halfway point, and here is what the Tea Party Republicans have done so far:
√ Passed a bill out of committee that would have required women seeking an abortion to get an ultrasound first. Doctors would have been required (under threat of criminal prosecution) to show the women the ultrasound, but women would have been allowed to “avert their eyes” from the ultrasound image without fear of prosecution. This bill failed in the House.
√ Passed a bill out of committee requiring people seeking divorce to undergo marriage counseling first … even in marriages in which a partner was subjected to emotional or psychological abuse. (Physical abuse would have been exempted.). Failed in the full House.
√ Passed a bill to overturn a city ordinance in Missoula (a college town) extending civil rights protections in housing and employment to members of the LGBT community.
√ Passed a bill to “nullify” the Endangered Species Act in Montana. This specifically is about wolves. This act will cost the state more than $1 billion a year in federal funding, which would be withheld if the state refuses to acknowledge (and enforce through the state wildlife agency) the ESA. (For this same reason, Montana was forced to impose a statewide speed limit or face having federal highway funds withheld.).
√ Proposed a bill to create armed paramilitary “citizen militias” in the state. This bill specifically mentions that such militias would not answer to the federal government. This bill failed.
√ Passed bills overturning a citizen-passed measure (with 62 percent in favour) legalizing medical marijuana statewide and a city initiative in Missoula making marijuana a low law enforcement priority.
√ Passed a bill to weaken the state’s environmental laws regulating mining.
√ Passed a bill requiring school districts to get each parent’s permission before a sex education class.
√ Introduced a bill to put Montana back on the gold standard and declaring the Federal Reserve void.
√ Introduced a bill declaring that global warming is good for Montana and its economy because it would create a longer growing season and exempting Montana from any federal greenhouse gas regulations. (Apparently this legislator forgot about the blistering hot and dry summer of 2006, in which 500,000 acres of Montana went up in smoke.)
√ A tea party Republican argued in favour of keeping the state death penalty because state prisoners with AIDS have been known to spit on prison guards to give them AIDS, and any prisoner who did such a thing should be put to death. This got thousands of hits on Youtube.
√ Passed a resolution regarding Montana’s “declaration of sovereignty.” One of the points in this resolution say that “states retain the right of protecting all freedoms of individual persons from federal incursion.” (What the bloody hell is the definition of “federal incursion?”)
√ Introduced a bill to — you guessed it — require people running for president to show their birth certificate. Anderson Cooper had a field day making fun of the ijiot who introduced this bill. When shown Barack Obama’s birth certificate on air proving that he is a citizen, he responded, “that’s your opinion.” He also claims his bill has nothing to do with Obama. He also claimed the 14th Amendment is not valid and that Obama cannot be a citizen because both of his parents were not born in America.
None of these measures have anything to do with jobs or the economy. (Though some legislators say weakening environmental laws will create jobs; I personally don’t buy that.) Not one. They campaigned on jobs, the budget and the economy, and have done nothing at the halfway point of the legislature. In fact, the ESA bill will cost the state over $1 billion a year in federal funding. How is that good for the state’s economy?
Instead, their whole agenda appears to be on social issues and somehow lashing out at the federal government. These freshmen legislatures are really into something called the “nullification” movement, which is essentially, if you don’t agree with the federal government, states can simply ignore the feds. Boy, a lot of states in the Deep South would’ve liked to have gotten away with that approach in the 1950s and 60s, huh?
One legislative discussion panel at the University of Montana estimated that at least 92 of these bills are patently unconstitutional. They have wasted time introducing, debating or actually passing 92 unconstitutional bills.
Here is an article last with a subjective, yet truthful and chilling quote:
“Their (The Tea Party) state would be a place where officials can ignore U.S. laws, force FBI agents to get a sheriff’s OK before arresting anyone, ban abortions, limit sex education in schools and create armed citizen militias.”
Several political veterans are pretty much aghast at what’s going on. One of their points is … like it or not, states just do not have the authority to simply “nullify” federal law they don’t agree with.
“This talk of nullifying is pretty toxic talk. That led to the Civil War.” — Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who also called some of these bills “kooky”
“It would be hard for anyone to top what is going on here in terms of the insanity of it all. One could be amused by it, except it is too dangerous.” — Retired political science professor Lawrence Pettit
“You are scaring the you-know-what out of them with this kind of talk. This needs to stop and stop now. Stop scaring our constituents and stop letting us look like a bunch of buffoons.” — Walt McNutt, veteran House Republican
The good news is, other than the measure weakening state environmental laws, none of these measures have any chance of becoming law. Even if they passed the Senate, and I doubt few of the measures will, Schweitzer would veto them. In fact, Schweitzer, who has only vetoed a handful of bills ever, registered a cattle brand recently with “VETO” in the logo.
The bad news is, the Legislature has gotten virtually no legitimate work accomplished after 45 days. All the time and energy has been spent on these insane bills. Montana has one of the lowest wage levels in the country and has serious economic problems with several large mills having shut down throughout the western half of the state the past two or three years, and the legislature barely spent five minutes on these issues.
The tea party candidates campaigned on these issues to get elected but once in office showed their true colours, which is they are obsessed with other people having anal sex and what goes on in women’s uteruses. Wolves come in third place, followed by Barack Obama is somehow going to knock on their door demanding their guns. Jobs and economy maybe make the top 10 of their actual concerns. Maybe.
Montana is getting a bad rap nationwide over this. There’s been articles in papers nationwide over our kooky tea party Legislature and the talk of “state sovereignty” and “nullification.” Cooper made a complete horse’s ass out of that birther legislator.
Of course, it isn’t just Montana where it’s happening. Several states have proposed “birther bills.”
√ In Texas, they are considering a bill similar to Montana’s that would require women seeking an abortion to get an ultrasound. They could avert their eyes, but they would have to listen to the baby’s heartbeat.
√ In South Dakota, a legislator proposed a bill called “the defence of fetuses act” that would have legalized killing abortion doctors (a similar bill exists in Nebraska).
√ In Georgia, a legislator proposed a bill saying Roe v. Wade has no jurisdiction in that state and that any woman having a miscarriage would be investigated and she would have to “prove” it was a natural miscarriage. Also in Georgia, a legislator proposed a bill proposing that rape victims could no longer be referred to as “victims,” but as “accusers.”
Make no mistake, this is what the tea party really cares about. They’re not a joke and they’re not funny anymore, and they aren’t “fringe.” Some of these bills reek of pure misogyny.
They have taken over state legislatures around the country and are doing their damnedest to pass these insane bills that have nothing to do with jobs or the economy or state budgets. They are all about taking the country back to the Stone Age, or some mythical Ronald Reaganesque “happy age” where women are barefoot, pregnant and compliant, gays remained locked in the closet where they belong and immigrants stayed on the other side of the border. They are definitely doing their damnedest to slowly try and chip away at Roe v. Wade. They know they can’t overturn it, at least not anytime soon, so they will do everything in their power to undermine it, sabotage it, and undermine and sabotage a woman’s right to choose, including cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, when abortion referrals is just one of many, many services PP offers.
Most of all, they are wasting everyone’s time and wasting taxpayer dollars on their own salaries. And are launching an all-out assault against the rights of women and gays.