Mary Ann Dunwell

As we get closer to the end of the 68th Legislative session, one thing has become clear: With a supermajority, the way Republicans have run things is no way to run a legislative session.

This session has seen a historic number of bills. Republicans have slammed committee meetings with more bills than what any legislator can reasonably or responsibly consider. They’ve scheduled hearings for bills with virtually no public notice, restricting the right of Montanans to engage in government decision-making.

Too often this session, Republicans tabled Democratic bills with no debate, meaning that we never even discussed the merit of certain bills before they were killed.

Any time the rules have inconvenienced Republicans, they’d just waive them. We saw that last week when House Republicans voted to suspend the rules regarding the deadline to introduce new bills. They did that to protect the monopoly Northwestern Energy from a recent court decision, rushing to introduce and pass a bill that prohibits the Department of Environmental Quality from considering the impact of pollution and greenhouse gasses when issuing a permit.

I serve on the Senate Local Government, Taxation, and Transportation committees and I can say firsthand that rewarding corporate polluters is far from the only thing Republicans have rushed through.

We saw bills pass through our committees faster than the time it takes to read just one bill, bills that bind the hands of local governments so they cannot meet the needs of their residents, protect the state government from accountability to the people of Montana, benefit out-of-staters, leave renters with no relief in Montana’s housing crisis, and give tax breaks to the super rich.

HB 2, the state budget, will be on the Senate floor sometime in the next week. As a state, how we spend our money is a direct reflection of what we value. I encourage you to tune in on the Legislature’s website to see for yourself exactly what Republicans are pushing through, what they’re claiming, what they’re denying, and what they’re defending.

You’ll see the rights and freedoms of Montanans they are fighting against. And, with no doubt, you will see what Democrats are fighting for.