Elected on Fiscally Conservative Platforms, Montana Legislators Focus Instead on Social Issues

Montana Republican legislators apparently didn’t get the message that  we don’t  really care about the legislators’ pet causes and social issues this session.  Campaigning on platforms of fiscal responsibility and smaller government, it didn’t take long for them to start drafting hundreds of bills about issues Montanans aren’t currently concerned about. The Republicans have obviously been derailed from  their promises of fiscal reform in favor of  an all-star Jeff Lazloffy style dream team of legislative proposals from repealing medical marijuana to further restricting abortions.

November’s election wasn’t a GOP mandate.  It was a GIFT.  People didn’t vote for the GOP, they voted against everything progressivism represents.  Unfortunately, the legislators seem more concerned with their own puritan religious agendas.  In a lengthy recession, it seems blatantly hypocritical for Republican legislators to be so hell-bent on repealing the medical marijuana law which has provided employment for thousands (there are currently 5000 or so caregivers in MT) of people in Montana as well as adding substantially to our state’s economy.

Republicans need to decide whether they actually do support smaller government or if they support it only when it suits their morals.   Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of the murder of unborn babies, nor do  I think medical marijuana dispensaries should be located next to schools, I just think that the Republicans better wake up before they are punished at the polls for ignoring their constituency.  Many of us spent countless hours conducting voter ID surveys door to door  throughout Montana.  In our group, do you know how many of us encountered voters whose primary concern was medical marijuana or abortion?  ZERO.  Overwhelmingly,  respondents declared that the economy and jobs were the concerns most pressing.

“We need to recognize why were elected as Republicans,” said Rep. Mike Milburn, House Speaker . “We need to all band together and head down that same road.”

Why then is Milburn proposing a repeal of the entire medical marijuana law? That is NOT why we elected Republicans in the 2010 elections.   We  elected them  to create jobs and repair our struggling economy. Please tell me how eliminating 5000 caregiver jobs will be good for our economy?  Does the law need some changes and clarifications?  Certainly, I won’t disagree with that.  Let’s listen to the Montana voters this time though, keep the focus on the economy.


6 thoughts on “Elected on Fiscally Conservative Platforms, Montana Legislators Focus Instead on Social Issues

  1. I’m gonna have to have to disagree with your lumping medical marijuana in with abortion as an issue that only crazy social conservatives want action taken on this session. Sure – the number one concern of voters was jobs and the economy. I think Republicans need to take the Governors proposed budget and make it structurally sound. We need to make our regulatory and business environment more friendly to growth.

    However, there are other issues that Montanans are concerned about. Healthcare for example… and I believe medical marijuana falls into that category. While not the number one concern, it is an issue that Montanans are talking about. People feel that they were sold a bill of goods. They weren’t given the full story (as is often the problem with initiatives). The current regulation of MM is not sufficient and reform is needed. It is not only the right thing to do and what Montanans want…it is also politically smart as an issue Republicans can come back and campaign on.

    • Oh, I agree with you… I know that the medical marijuana laws need clarification- even most caregivers and patients believe that as well. I don’t think that most people see mm as legitimately health-care related. Although I believe it is, many conservatives are determined to just get rid of it entirely. People like Jason Christ of the Montana Caregivers Network soil the reputation of the entire industry and it is unfortunate. There are many people whose use is legitimate and lawful- and it has contributed much to our state’s economy. I don’t think conservatives are crazy for wanting to restrict abortion either- I’m no fan of abortions. I just think anything like that will be vetoed anyway and I would much rather them focus on- like you said- making the governor’s budget structurally sound. Fix the economy and create jobs and we are more likely to continue to make gains in both houses and hopefully the governor’s seat as well.

      I don’t think the mm situation is a case of Montanans being sold a bill of goods without the full story- nobody could have foreseen the effect that the federal government’s decision that federal drug agents wouldn’t pursue pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers in states that allow medical marijuana would have. Most in the industry favor more regulation- or at least clarification of the law. Repealing it though? That would be a mistake. Millions of dollars have been contributed to our economy- and in the recession,people have to do what it takes to survive. Many sectors of the economy have benefited from the growth of the industry. Buildings, vacant for years, suddenly have tenants. Gardening supply shops are cropping up. Jobs have been created. Best of all, the money stays in the state. I don’t believe that there are many more people smoking marijuana now than before the law- the biggest difference is that the money remains here instead of being taken in a duffel bag to California for a black market supply. I don’t have any problem with clarifying the law and restricting it- I think attempts to repeal it are ridiculous.

  2. The House Republicans seem almost giddy with the knowledge that they can pass just about any legislation they want. But without a veto proof majority in the Senate, the governor will be busy vetoing a lot of it, which as you point out is just a waste of time and the State’s resources and the tax payers money.

    Many House Republicans seem to either not know, or have forgotten, just how they got elected. Sure, the Democrats stayed home in a lot of races, but it was the moderate and independent swing voters that swung to the right this time that helped the Republicans carry many swing districts. Alienating those voters will very likely cause them to swing to the left next election, along with ensuring the Democrats show up, causing many new legislators to be one term wonders and could even have a deciding effect on the next governors race.

  3. Despite overwhelming public support as noted in countless opinion polls including a November 2002 Time magazine poll that found 80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana many legislators say that medical marijuana is simply not an important issue for the overwhelming majority of voters. Last session a bill that would have allowed an affirmative defense to prosecution if the individual possessed marijuana on the recommendation of a physician died in the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.

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