In the first days of the 63rd Montana Legislature, the bill count totaled 1,843 drafts of which 275 had already been introduced in the House or Senate.

Proposed legislation covers myriad issues. Citizens interested in particular issues can keep tabs on them. Voters who want to know what ideas their senator and representative are pushing can find out at the Legislature’s website. There they will find interesting reading.

For example, Rep. Cary Smith, R-Billings, starting his third term, has requested 17 bill drafts, including a referendum that would ask Montanans to vote on “defining the scope and boundaries for K-12 sex education.” Smith also requested another bill draft “defining scope/boundaries of human sexuality/reproduction education K-12." Like most bill requests, the text of that draft legislation isn’t yet available on the public website.

Smith also requested a bill for a constitutional referendum “amending the right to a clean and healthful environment.”

Rep. Krayton Kerns, R-Laurel, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has requested several bills that would deal with federal laws, such as “prohibiting enforcement of any federal ban on semi-automatic firearms/magazines; generally nullifying EPA directives, generally nullifying the federal Patient Protection and Affordability Act, and a draft captioned “federal law enforcement officers should communicate with sheriff.” Kerns also requested a draft for a referendum revising concealed weapons laws, but has put that request on hold.

Veteran lawmakers tend to sponsor more bills, but some Yellowstone County newcomers are helping to fill the hopper, too.

Freshman Rep. Clayton Fiscus, R-Billings, has requested bills to “emphasize critical thinking in science education,” and a referendum to eliminate a certain amount of the homestead property value.

Contrast the bill ideas mentioned above with the list filed so far by Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, who is Senate president. In his fifth regular session as a senator, Essmann has requested drafts to revise laws on the coal board and its grants and to revise laws related to process servers. Both are practical issues that only state lawmakers can address.

Lawmakers have just 90 working days to complete the state budget. We urge all senators and representatives to focus on that critical responsibility and to scrutinize all other legislation to determine whether it’s necessary and consistent with what Montana voters want.

Lawmakers should put priority on addressing practical state policy changes that will improve Montanan’s economy and quality of life. They ought not waste time debating federal laws that only Congress can change or turning hot-button ideological issues into referendums. Local school boards are responsible to their communities for deciding how to teach their students. The Legislature should not abdicate its duty to make legislative decisions, nor overstep into other jurisdictions.

(17) comments

PercyJay
PercyJay

All the news articles have reported how the legislative leaders and the governor are trying their best to get along. Then when it comes time to write an editorial, the Gazette picks out a few weird sounding bills to make fun of. Not right, in my opinion. Legislators can introduce any bill they want, but overall I think the Legislature deserves some credit for trying to get off on the right foot.

billy banger
billy banger

These obstructionist tea party members have no intention of forewarding any meaningful legislation. They only want to stop any foreward movement at solving any problems faced by the state.

Jus Wundrin
Jus Wundrin

Sure, just the TEA party types.

Billsuss45
Billsuss45

Why is the Gazette trying to discount bills that could in fact be great ideas? Regarding Rep. Smith’s referendum defining the scope and boundaries of sex education, what is so bad? Many parents at my child’s school (including myself) would like to have an active role in deciding what is taught.

Jus Wundrin
Jus Wundrin

It doesnt fit their bias.

Bridget J
Bridget J

I agree with PercyJay. These Legislators have worked hard to be able to introduce these bills. That's what the people in their district elected them to do. I think instead of focusing on a few random bills, the Gazette should pay more attention to the fact that this legislature is committed to working together and concentrating on what is important to Montana.

billy banger
billy banger

Where have you been when they wasted the last session introducing these stupid bills and did not submit a budget until after they had adjourned. The Gazette needs to start a column called Bat Crap Crazy ideas from the Legislature.

Jus Wundrin
Jus Wundrin

There already is a website devoted to that billy: badbills.com .........it might just open your progressive eyes.

Howard Wilkinson
Howard Wilkinson

After the last session with all it's crackpot legislations, these absurd legislations need to be held up to public ridicule. These guys need to know that Montanan's will not tolerate this kind of nonsense. The session is short enough without wasting time on garbage when there is real and important work to be done!! Schweitzer's flamboyant style did a good job of holding this kind of thing up to public ridicule. Schweitzer is gone now, and Bullock is a different kind of duck. Under this administration it is up to the press to wield the "Veto Brand"!!

Ceithern
Ceithern

This is simply an article on ideology; the gazette’s. The goal of this article is simple, similar to past accomplishments, the gazette intends to brand, pun intended, this legislature as cartoonish because it is republican led. They have been extremely successful in the past. Picture if you can a republican governor with a branding iron (one that would botch and scab)…do you think the articles would have been the same? I might add that in Schweitzer’s 2008 campaign he was shown roping, true Montana cowboy; except that he had his rope backward and would have likely lost fingers had he actually caught anything.

But you will never hear of the Marxist bills from the legislature regarding price controls, healthcare, genocide rights, not one negative word. Constitutionality is disregarded as the bleeding hearts and sob stories abound

Jus Wundrin
Jus Wundrin

What is good legislation howard? Please be specific. More gubment programs? More senseless spending? More debt?

JJWinn
JJWinn

These elected officials have the right to introduce legislation and shouldn't be ridiculed for representing the interests of their district. This legislature has made a commitment to work together and I actually believe them. Silly editorials like this won't help.

Sherm
Sherm

I agree with the Gazette - it's simply a waste of time to introduce bills that cannot become law even if they are passed, regardless if they are proposed by the left or the right. If you don't like a federal law, then talk with your U. S. congressman or senator, don't waste taxpayer money passing stuff that cannot be enacted into state law. And as far as Ceithern's comments about "Marxist" laws, remember what's good for the goose is good for the gander. I assume you are in favor of ending those "Marxist" laws championed by the Republican party as well? No federal crop and flood insurance? Open up state and BLM lands to competitive bidding and requiring fair market value on leases? no price subsidies for farmers? Allow Americans to buy our medicine from Canada? No tax credits or breaks for corporations? There are ample laws that benefit both points of view of government spending.priorities.

Ceithern
Ceithern

I agree entirely the progressive rinos are just as much the issue. But it is ludicrous to say we should only keep the Feds in check in Washington only, why waste our time there with Baucus and Tester when we have a better chance of stopping progressives here.

Why did you put Marxist in quotes? A spade is a spade, whether someone recognizes it as such or not. The ideas put forth by the progressive democrats and republicans are entirely Marxist. Are you offended if someone calls an idea Jeffersonian, capitalistic?

Jus Wundrin
Jus Wundrin

" I assume you are in favor of ending those "Marxist" laws championed by the Republican party as well? No federal crop and flood insurance? Open up state and BLM lands to competitive bidding and requiring fair market value on leases? no price subsidies for farmers? Allow Americans to buy our medicine from Canada? No tax credits or breaks for corporations?"

I am.

Jus Wundrin
Jus Wundrin

So all bills drafted by a "D": good, ones drafted by an "R": BAD. Of over 1800 drafts, the gaz could only find a few, by repubs only, that are "impractical" as they say. I would invite the readers to look at the following and form their own opinions:

laws.leg.mt.gov/legprd/LAW0217W$BAIV.return_all_bills?P_SESS=20131

LC-1869 Sen. Sharon Stewart Peregoy (D), among many other "D" proposals, could have fit this commentary.

Perhaps if the gaz had done a little research they might have discovered that these legislators were approached by concerned citizens and drafted these bills at their request.

Is it not difficult to see why the media gets a worse approval rating than the gubment when you read commentaries like this?

true conservative
true conservative

So you contacted each of the representatives/senators cited? Of course Jus Wundrin you ignorred the words "for example."

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