Divine Mandate - the end justifies the means
Posted by Bill Mac (+69) 6 years ago
from The Montana Cowgirl Blog

GOP Leaders Caught Trying to Keep Constitutional Problems with Bills Secret

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 06:35 AM PST
On Friday morning at 7am, democrats in the legislature succeeded in forcing GOP leadership to reverse their edict that legal memos detailing constitutional problems with bills be removed from the public LAWS website.

In 2013, the MT legislature, through its official Legislative Council made a bi-partisan decision to make the legal review notes created by legislative staff and attorneys public documents. Every bill undergoes a legal review, and if there are potential problems with the US or federal constitution and other major case laws there was a memo created and those documents were public.

But in 2015, the GOP leadership of the legislature directed its staff to take those documents–and any references to them in the LAWS system==down from the website . Instead, the GOPers told their staff to keep them in the offices of the legislative staff, and even require members of the public to sign them out when they ask to see the public documents so that the GOP leaders could know who was looking for them.

These Republicans apparently don’t want the public – or the press–to know if their bills have constitutional problems. This is counter to democracy and good government. Legislative staff noted that they had been asked if there were legal review notes in committees, only to have GOP leadership get angry that the staff had answered honestly that such a note exists. Rep. Essmann even expressed his belief that if a law was passed by the legislature, it was constitutional just because until a court challenged the law.

Anyway you can see why democrats complained that the notes had been hidden and removed from the website, and the legislative council on Friday morning, January 30, passed a motion to reiterate that the documents needed to be public again – as the legislative council had already affirmed – with some additional language clarifying for legislators what legal review means. Sen. Session also asked that the GOP leaders in the future not make unilateral decisions, but take them to the legislative council, which is the process set up for managing legislative staff. The change was made Friday am as part of a Legislative Council committee meeting.

Critical to Contact your elected legislators and express your opinion.

Weakening the Constitution

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 05:49 AM PST
House Bill 212 was passed last week by the House Fish Wildlife and Parks Committee. The bill sets dangerous precedent by making it so easy to manipulate and modify the Constitution.

Usually it takes a 2/3 majority to amend the MT Constitution. This bill attempts to do so with a simple majority. It’s backers are hoping we’ll buy that they are not working to change the constitution by using the euphemism that they are “clarifying” that the constitution includes the right to trapping. It makes the Constitution up for grabs by future legislatures through similar such schemes.

This could even backfire against the very people who are proposing the bill. The next legislature can amend the Constitution to ban trapping, and further, if an anti-hunting legislature is in power, this precedent could restrict the right to hunt dramatically, say, hunting will be allowed only for elk. This bill weakens our Constitution drastically, and is a terrible idea.

There are many reasons to keep the constitution in tact-up with their own reasons why they don’t want the Constitution easy to manipulate.

Some great Representatives voted AGAINST HB 212.

Representative and Vice Chair, Price,
Representative Court,
Representative Lieser,
Representative Z. Brown,
Representative Jacobson,
Representative Smith,
Representative Person.

HB 212 now moves onto the House. It’s a bill everyone should watch.
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