I actually started this way back in May 2015.
I don’t really care if it’s Democrats or Republicans that get the credit for introducing and getting these things passed, I just care that it gets done.
Since 2017 is still quite a ways away, I’ll update this list periodically and continue to share it every so often.
If you’d like to add something, leave a comment.
If you don’t want anyone to know who you are, just send me an email and I’ll add your suggestion to the list.
Alright, here are some issues we need to address. Perhaps some of them can even be Housecleaning bills:
Legislative Term Limits: This is an issue that is getting a lot more coverage as of late. On May 10, 2015, the Montana Standard in Butte ran an editorial decrying term limits. There have been others, and there will be more.
Election Filing Fees: Right now I’d have to pay $140 to run for Missoula City Council and more than $700 to run for mayor. How does this benefit the working man? It doesn’t – it benefits the rich, old white men that have always represented us in this country. I don’t like that. I’d like to see a coalition of young legislators introduce legislation to make running for office more affordable. You’ll find the current law under 13-10-202 Filing Fees of the Montana Code Annotated (MCA).
Knife Laws: Right now Montana knife laws are vague. For instance, you’ll be fined up to $500 if you have a concealed knife with a blade that’s longer than 4 inches. Now, I don’t agree with that, but I also don’t think our current knife laws are a big problem. Still, we’ve seen what concealed knives have done in Baltimore – caused riots. We don’t need citizens getting busted and fined huge amounts because they like to carry a hunting knife.
Pay Raise Discrepancy: Why is it that elected officials in Montana saw their pay go up in July 2015 but regular workers have to wait until January 2016? That’s how our current laws are set up, and I expect this to change after the next session. The question is, which party wants that victory under their belt?
Game Wardens: Why is it that highway patrol officers have no funding problems, but Fish, Wildlife & Parks game wardens do? Could it be that we don’t pay them anything, and also don’t have the funding set up? I mean, highway patrol gets money from vehicle fees. Why don’t game wardens get money from hunting fees…or fines?
Watercraft Inspection Laws: During the summer of 2015 we had a serious issue with boats and invasive species from the Great Lakes. There were about 18 mandatory checkpoints around the state to check for this, and there are fines. Perhaps this is something that needs to be looked into a bit more.
Earned Income Tax Credits: It’s time that we allow the wealth gap in this state to recede, and we do that by giving tax credits to low-earners. Let’s strengthen this system.
Capital Gains: Montana is just one of nine states that allows an antiquated capital gains tax rate that actually has the state paying people instead of taxing them. Let’s fix this so Montana families are strengthened, not rich transplants. This is how we pay for the earned income tax credits.
De-facto Hate Speech Laws: I got this idea when reading a June 10 post by James Conner. He mentions how prosecutors are in effect getting a law by forcing a prosecution in that Twitter rant/hate speech case in Kalispell. I dunno, feels like something to look into.
Civilian Public Service: From 1943 to 1946 there were many conscientious objectors in Montana. They worked in camps and did a lot around the state. None of them were ever paid for that work. While paying them might not be possible, honoring or at least mentioning them should be.
Speeding Fine Signs: A great deterrent to speeding in Montana would be signs posting what the penalties are, and for what speed. The same goes for DUIs. We should start with our electronic signs before the physical signs are installed. I mentioned this back in May when the 80 MPH law was signed.
Modern Reporting: The State of Montana’s website is atrocious. Instead of listing pertinent information in a way that search engines can index, they put everything into PDF forms. This means it’s harder for citizens to get the information that they’re paying to produce. The COPP webpage is a good example of the modernizations that are needed, and those modernizations involve typing that content into individual pages on the site.
Faster Internet Service: There was a July 17, 2015, letter to the Missoulian that pretty much says CenturyLink has crummy service. I wholeheartedly agree, and would go so far so to up Charter in there as well. Why is nothing being done? Why won’t legislators help the people paying their salaries?
GMO Labeling Law: Jennifer Fielder tried to get a GMO labeling law through the 2013 session, but it never got a hearing. Nothing was done in 2015 as far as I know. It’s time for smart Democrats to pick up the pace on this and get a bill introduced and passed.
Age Limits on Political Donations: This one seems like a no-brainer, unless you’re Greg Gianforte. He made donations under his kids’ names (one was 4-years old) and there’s no law against that. Should there be? James Conner thinks so in this August 8 post, and I agree.
Nurse Protection Law: It’s clear from this October 1, 2015, article that nurses are being assaulted and hurt. They and their union want to make that kind of harm a felony. Perhaps we should oblige them.
Surplus Campaign Account Funds: I’m tired of candidates donating to other political candidates. I especially hate this when that campaign has ended. That money should go to charity, not party hacks. It’s time to amend $13-37-228(3) MCA to stop this nonsense.
Reschedule Municipal and Bond Elections: Why are we encouraging low turnout for important races and issues by putting them in odd-numbered years? Who does this benefit? It’s time it stops, and you can read more reasons why in this post.
Eastern County Deprivitization Study: Back in 1990 ten of our eastern counties were so low in population they were considered for listing in the Buffalo Commons. Let’s fund a study that looks into this problem, and whether the state/feds should begin the process of studying who owns the land and what it would take to buy it up, return it to public rangeland.
Shield Act Study: What would happen if our power grid went down? According to a 2004 congressional study, 90% of Americans would die. That’s why I’d like Montana to figure out how to strengthen and protect its energy grid with a Shield Act. A legislative study of some sort, perhaps a few thousand dollars spent, would be a good first step in addressing this problem.
Now, how do these bills align with the 14 topics lawmakers chose to study for the 2017 Montana Legislature? Well…they don’t.
"We confuse efficiency with effectiveness, expediency with priority, imitation with innovation, cosmetics with character, or pretense with competence,” Stephen R. Covey writes in his book Principle-Centered Leadership. “It is perception that governs beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.” (p 69)
That’s good advice.
I hope we can see some smart laws come out of the 2017 Montana Legislature.
Candidate filing begins January 14 and goes to mid-March.
Get your issues ready, get your campaign platform ready.
Some of us are.