MT Legislature: Speed is Freedom

On January 5, 2015, the 64th session of the Montana Legislature will convene.

For those of you not from Montana, the Montana Legislature is really pretty good entertainment to warm up Montanans in the dead of winter. The state legislature meets every two years for 90 days. There’s an old joke told that many Montanans believe the legislature should meet every 90 years for two days.

I’ve called the legislative sessions a three-ring circus, and I’ve called many of the legislators clowns from time to time.

It looks like the 2015 session will be the same old circus. They have already held at least one secret meeting, probably more. It seems that many of the legislators don’t feel the need to follow the open-meetings law in the Montana Constitution.

One thing for sure, it’s always interesting to see what bills are proposed leading up to the next legislative session. Over the weekend, I happened to read about a few legislators (state senators Scott Sales and Jonathan Windy Boy, and state representative Ken Miller, and state representative-elect Art Wittich) who want to raise the daytime speed limit on Montana’s interstate highways. The current speed limit is 75 and they want to raise it to 80 or 85.

They seem to be serious, too. Art Wittich told Lee Newspapers that his proposal is “really a freedom bill.”

After hearing it was a “freedom bill” I was waiting for comments about prying my cold dead hands from my steering wheel or something like that.

Lee Newspapers decided this issue was so important that they devoted almost 900 words to the main story, and about 300 words to an additional story with historical data about speed limits in Montana.

In early November, I wrote about four things that I would like to see the 2015 Montana Legislature accomplish:

-Toughen Montana’s drunken driving laws
-Make Supreme Court Judges position a 10-year appointed position by the Governor with consent of the senate
-Make it easier for independent candidates to get on the ballot in Montana – no more collecting a zillion signatures
-Revamp the Political Practices Office.

At least with Montana’s weak drunk driving laws and soft judges who allow drunk drivers to roam Montana’s highways with five, six, seven, or more DUI convictions, drunk drivers will be able to get from one watering hole to another quickly.

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  1. The problem with drunk drivers getting “soft” sentences has far less to do with the judges and far more to do with the laws in place. If we want laws with some real teeth then the legislature needs to get on it.

    • Rick – thanks for your comments. I think the problem is with the judges and the legislature. -JmB

    • Rick is right, the legislature defines the scope of penalties and the judges operate within those guidelines. I went to court with my son on not having auto insurance and observed several people there for having possession of pot. Most were first offences and the fine was $168.00. The judge said she felt it was not enough but that is the first offence guideline.

  2. Just what we need, drunks driving faster! The interstate speed of 75 is fine, most people out there don’t drive at the speed limit anyway. Most of those driving faster are from out of state. And yes, we need to adopt stricter penalties for drunk driving.

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