Welcome to Monday – it’s already time for another potpourri edition! When there are several stories out there that I want to comment about, I combine them into a “potpourri” column. Today I provide that valuable independent commentary you’ve come to love from The Western Word about:
- Flathead Water Compact
- Montana Medicaid Expansion
- Montana Wages & Salaries
- Daines & Wildfire Disaster Funding
- Thumbs Down to Utah
Flathead Water Compact:
On Saturday the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing about the Flathead water compact. The Associated Press reported that over 400 attended. It started at 10:00 am and ended around 8:30 pm according to a Tweet from Speaker Austin Knudsen.
I actually watched some of it, but soon I was nodding off because so many lawyers and lobbyists were allowed to speak.
I noticed that Rep. Randy Pinocci is a member of the House Judiciary Committee. In an earlier interview with the Great Falls Tribune he complained about not getting paid enough. I imagine working about 10.5 hours on a Saturday was extremely tough on him.
Montana Medicaid Expansion:
On Saturday the Montana House passed SB 405, the Medicaid expansion bill. The vote was 54-42. The bill was amended in the House, so it must go back to the Montana Senate for consideration.
The far-right Republicans were beaten pretty badly on this issue.
My Representative, Wendy McKamey, had an interesting string of votes on the bill. On April 8 she voted no. On April 9 she voted no. On April 9 she voted for all the amendments to derail the bill. On April 9 she voted to adjourn before the bill received a final vote. Finally on April 11, she voted for the bill.
So, she voted against the bill before she voted for it. That’s a little crazy.
MT Wages & Salaries:
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported that the 2013 tax return data showed Montana ranked 49th — just above Mississippi and right below New Mexico — for wages and salaries reported in tax returns, with Montanans earning an average of $33,180 annually.
This data makes Montana look pretty bad. One would think with all those economic development folks in the state holding meeting after meeting we would see better results. The data shows they, along with our elected officials, are failing.
Daines & Wildfire Disaster Funding:
I happened to catch some of the news coverage about U.S. Senator Steve Daines hosting a roundtable discussion about wildfire disaster funding and the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2015 (S.235).
According to a report in the Helena Independent Record:
The act creates an emergency funding process much like that for other natural disasters, switching to emergency funding for the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Interior once wildfire suppression costs exceed 70 percent of the 10-year average.
That’s a good thing. It looks like the bill has support from the whole Montana delegation. The bill needs to be passed soon.
Let the fun begin – Hillary Clinton announced yesterday that she was running for President. Here is her campaign’s first video:
She is the first Democrat. Republicans Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have already announced. Check out The Western Word’s Facebook page for info on all announced candidates which can be found on my “Like” pages. You should like The Western Word’s Facebook page to get the latest information.
Thumbs Down to Utah:
Arnold Breitenbach is a Vietnam veteran who was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the Purple Heart in 1969.
So Arnold decided to get a specialized Utah license plate with this information on it. He decided he would get CIB-69 (CIB stands for Combat Infantryman’s Badge and 69 stands for the year it was awarded)
His request was denied because of sexual connotations. The Associated Press reported the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles denied his request, citing state regulations prohibiting the use of the number 69 because of its sexual connotations.
I wonder what they would say if someone wanted Psalm 69 on their plates?
Shame on Utah – you need to loosen up a little…