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Hanta Yo

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GOP furious after seeing Schweitzer
By CHARLES S. JOHNSON
Gazette State Bureau

HELENA - Republican legislative leaders were furious at Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Wednesday when he turned a meeting they requested into a 25-minute filibuster without letting them get a single word in edgewise.

A frustrated Schweitzer spent much of the meeting criticizing Republicans in the evenly divided House for not supporting some of his top priorities. These included bills to offer tax breaks for attract movie and television productions to Montana, promote ethanol production, strengthen the state's stream-access law and fund a commission to find waste in state government.

Without asking the Republican leaders what they wanted to talk about or if they had any reaction to his comments, Schweitzer abruptly terminated the meeting.


"So again thank you very much,'' he said. "I appreciate the opportunity. I have a meeting at 8 o'clock. We'll see you later.''

With that, he rose and walked out of the room, leaving irate Republicans sputtering.

"It's good dialogue,'' said Senate Minority Whip Corey Stapleton, R-Billings, sarcastically.

Although Schweitzer ran last year on a ticket with Republican Sen. John Bohlinger as his running mate and touted their mutual goal for bipartisanship, the Democratic governor's relationships with Republican leaders and vice versa - have turned increasingly rocky in recent weeks.

At a press conference after the meeting, Republican leaders said Schweitzer never gave them a chance to talk about the issues they wanted, nor to explain to him their objections to some of his key proposals. Asked why they didn't speak up to Schweitzer to voice their views, Rep. Pat Wagman, R-Livingston, said Republicans respect the governor's office and felt it would be rude to interrupt him.

"We went down there to have a legitimate discussion about issues and about what's going on in Montana,'' said House Republican Leader Roy Brown of Billings. "And what we got was showmanship. We were not allowed to speak. We were not asked any questions. We were just told to come there and listen to his show. That's just not right."

Senate Minority Leader Bob Keenan, R-Bigfork, said, "We went down there for 25 minutes and listened to him rant and have a 10-year-old temper tantrum. To me, it's sad. I really wonder if he wants to be governor. This is an inconvenience for him and he's finding out that it's a very difficult job.''

Interviewed later, Schweitzer expressed surprise that the GOP legislators hadn't said anything at the meeting. He said he mentioned most of them by name to give them an opening to talk.

"They all just sat there,'' he said. "I didn't know why they didn't step in with anything.''

Republican leaders said they sought the meeting with Schweitzer to talk about what had happened in the battles in House Appropriations Committee over the state budget that is about $121 million over the state spending cap. They also had complaints that Schweitzer was bullying freshmen GOP legislators by threatening to campaign against them if they didn't support some of these measures.

Schweitzer told them he would continue to meet individually with legislators from both parties and denied bullying them. But he said he will let people know when a legislator who pledged to support something in a campaign votes against it in the Legislature.

And Schweitzer said he will continue to fight to pass his agenda, which he believes most Montanans support.

"They're all big boys and girls,'' he said later. "They got here because they are able to pick up a ball and run with it.''

In his meeting with the GOP leaders, Schweitzer said each legislator has a responsibility to represent his or her district, while those statewide elected officials like him have a duty to represent all 100 House and 50 Senate districts.

"I will continue to meet with individual legislators, and I am meeting with the folks back home as well,'' he told the Republicans.

Local voters didn't give their legislators a mandate to go to Helena and represent the interests of their political party, Schweitzer said.

Senate President Jon Tester, D-Big Sandy, who also sat in on the meeting with Schweitzer and the Republican leaders, said, "I thought the governor had some stuff he wanted to get off his chest. He's showing some of the frustration he's got with the partisan games.''

Tester predicted the next meeting between Republicans and Schweitzer is "really going to be the test.''


Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.


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Hanta Yo

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Gov. accused of threatening lawmakers
By ALLISON FARRELL
Gazette State Bureau

HELENA - Gov. Brian Schweitzer has been threatening and intimidating freshman GOP lawmakers when they vote against his legislation, and the harassment has got to stop, Republican House leaders said Monday.

House Republican Floor Leader Mike Lange, R-Billings, said Schweitzer has been telling new Republican legislators that he will personally campaign against them during 2006 election season and will veto their other bills if they don't toe his line on ethanol, wind energy and ethics laws.

Schweitzer has listed these issues among his top priorities for the session.


Lange and House Republican Leader Roy Brown of Billings said they will ask the governor to back off during their regularly scheduled meeting of state government leaders today.

"I've never heard of a governor who used the bully pulpit of his office to do that kind of thing to an individual freshman legislator," said Brown, who is in his fourth term in the House. "It's just not proper."

Schweitzer's spokeswoman, Sarah Elliott, called the allegations of intimidation and harassment "silly."

"The governor works for the people of Montana," Elliott said. "It's part of his job to do the best he can to make sure their interests are represented."

Lange said the governor has threatened or harassed some GOP lawmakers seven or eight times since the 2005 Legislature began in January. Lange said the new legislators have been making their complaints to House GOP leaders.

"When we sit down with him, I will name names," Lange said. "He's going to get it point blank from me."

Lange plans to tell Schweitzer that he inappropriately harassed Rep. Llew Jones, R-Conrad. Jones, who sits on the House Agriculture Committee, received a telephone call from Schweitzer after he voted against a bill that would have expanded the production and use of ethanol in the state.

The bill, backed by Schweitzer, was tabled in committee. Jones said Schweitzer made it clear in the phone call that he was going to take action against the Conrad Republican for his vote.

"He did indicate he was going to let the agriculture publications know," Jones said. "If necessary, he would talk to people up in the area."

Jones, a solidly built farmer and rancher, said he doesn't ever feel too threatened by anyone. But he did say he felt "disappointed to be singled out."

Republican leaders call Schweitzer's actions unprecedented.

"I've never seen a governor who's constantly hauling people into his office," Brown said.

Brown and Lange said that if Schweitzer does personally campaign against GOP lawmakers who voted his legislation down, then they will be right on his heels campaigning for the incumbent. "Threatening our caucus members is unacceptable," said Brown, who has repeatedly urged his fellow Republicans to wield their power in the equally divided House this session by voting straight party line.


Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.

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Hanta Yo

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Democrats, Republicans crash over state budget
By BOB ANEZ
Associated Press

HELENA -- An angry clash between Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday night left the fate of the $7 billion state budget bill in limbo and members from both parties accusing each other of playing dirty politics.

Deadlocked time and again on party-line votes over changing and passing the spending measure, the evenly divided House Appropriations Committee finally disbanded in what amounted to a partisan walkout by GOP members.

Republicans refused to vote to send the bill to the House floor because it contains $122 million more than allowed by a law limiting how much spending can grow. Democrats balked at repeated GOP efforts to trim money from the budget. And that prompted the political blowup.


With the bill stalled in committee on a tie vote, Democrats said they may exercise their option to bring it before the full House anyway. But no one was sure Tuesday night when that might happen or whether the reception on the House floor, where each party has 50 members, would be any less partisan.

"Republicans are unified," said Rep. John Sinrud, a leading GOP member of the committee. "There has been no honest, true effort from the Democratic side to reduce the budget to combat the (spending) cap."

Committee Chairwoman Rosie Buzzas, D-Missoula, said Democrats are willing to cut $20 million from the bill to placate Republicans, but GOP members did not wait around to consider the offer.

"There's going to be room for negotiation as we move to the floor," she said. "At some point we have to pass this bill out of the House."

The dispute, unusual in the way it unfolded, arose after the committee had finished four days of reviewing the budget bill that will be used to finance most of state government over the next two years.

The committee had deadlocked 10-10 over several proposals by Sinrud to remove money from the budget. A frustrated John Witt, a Carter Republican and vice chairman of the panel, wanted the committee to call it quits. That failed on a tie vote.

Democrats insisted on an immediate vote on the bill. That failed on a tie vote, with Witt at one point scolding Buzzas: "Madam chairwoman, I believe you are out of order."

Then it was the Democrats' turn to try ending the meeting. The result was another tie vote.

Buzzas called for a break to let tempers cool, but Republicans came back early and adjourned the meeting by themselves. Democrats returned to find GOP colleagues milling about in the Capitol halls, but refusing to join the meeting.

"They've just kind of decided to take their ball and go home," Buzzas said. "It's certainly not a very gentlemanly way to do business. It's not a good-faith move to shut things down at this point."

Sinrud called Buzzas' criticism "totally inappropriate" and said she was the impolite one by refusing to let the committee debate the spending bill before forcing a vote. "We knew we were just going to butt heads again, so we adjourned," he said.

When Buzzas told Witt the Democrats planned to gather again and wait for Republicans to rejoin the meeting, Witt snapped, "You do what you got to do."

House Republican Leader Roy Brown of Billings said the standoff in the committee occurred because the budget has too much money.

"There's no way we can support a bill that spends $122 million more than the spending cap," he said.

Republican Floor Leader Michael Lange of Billings said the GOP is adamant, and changes are needed to avoid a continued stalemate on the House floor. "Unless we get the budget reduced in a responsible fashion, we're not going to vote for the budget," he said.

Buzzas said Democrats are not worried about chopping the budget to come within the spending cap at this point in the legislative process. Democrats said they are willing to eliminate authority for the state to sell $20 million in bonds to address some of the GOP concerns.

But, Buzzas said, Republicans were wrong to desert the committee. "They are putting this very important bill at a standstill.

"We can do this without walking out," she added. "It's very disappointing to see this action early on. Political games don't benefit anyone, anyone in Montana, anyone in this (legislative) body."


Copyright © 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.

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Hanta Yo

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Politics should NEVER go this far!!!!! :x :mad:

'Silver bullet' sends budget to House
By ALLISON FARRELL
Gazette State Bureau

HELENA - House Democrats on Wednesday enjoyed a brief victory in the state budget war after a party leader yanked the budget out of the deadlocked House Appropriations Committee and onto the House floor for debate March 17.

Republicans failed on a 50-50 vote in a bid to ship the measure back to committee.

The action was the latest sniping in the battle over the state budget in the evenly divided House as Republicans and Democrats rallied their troops to block the opposing party's every move.


Late Tuesday night, House Democratic Leader Dave Wanzenried of Missoula used his second "silver bullet" to blast the state budget bill, known as House Bill 2, out of the House Appropriations Committee and onto the House floor for debate. Leaders from both political parties in the House have 12 "silver bullets" they can use to move bills out of tied committees.

House Republican Floor Leader Mike Lange of Billings tried Wednesday to undo the action and move the state budget bill back into the deadlocked House Appropriations Committee. Lange told his fellow lawmakers that the committee needed to do more work on the bill, since it now sits $122 million over the statutory spending limit.

Lange failed to get the votes he needed to move the bill off the floor and back into the committee. As it stands, the budget bill will go before the full 100-member House for debate on March 17.

"This bill needs a great deal of effort," Lange said.

Wanzenried said the bitterly divided House Appropriations Committee is incapable of doing the work that needs to be done.

"It's like being in a bad relationship," Wanzenried said. "At some point, you have to move on."

The relationship between Democrats and Republicans on the 20-member House Appropriations Committee took a turn for the worse Tuesday night after Chairwoman Rep. Rosie Buzzas, D-Missoula, forced the committee to vote on the $7 billion state budget bill without any final discussion. Normally, legislators are allowed to editorialize before they cast their votes.

The bill failed to pass out of committee on a partisan tie vote Tuesday, and the committee then took a 30-minute break. During the break, Republicans came back to the meeting room early and voted to adjourn.

When Democrats came back to the meeting, they found the budget meeting over.

GOP lawmakers are now clamoring to give the committee another chance to make some cuts to the budget, but Buzzas said the Republicans gave up their chance when they adjourned the meeting.

"You walked off the job, clear and straight," Buzzas told Republicans in the House on Wednesday. "I was planning to go to the end of the night."

Republicans say they chose to end the meeting because committee members were just butting heads. Now, they say they want the committee to hammer out some reductions. Democrats said they have come up with $20 million in proposed cuts, while Republicans said they have between $60 million and $80 million in proposed cuts for the next state budget.

Lange said he'd like to make cuts in the governor's office budget. Rep. John Sinrud, R-Bozeman, tried to make some cuts to that budget in committee, but they all failed on tie votes.

Wanzenried and Brown have both said they'd like to sit down with each other before HB2 hits the House floor next week, to see what reductions the other is offering. The $7 billion proposed budget for fiscal 2006-2007 includes $2.6 billion in state money.

Wanzenried said he anticipated deadlock on the budget. He drafted a letter authorizing the use of his third "silver bullet" Tuesday afternoon, long before the House Appropriations Committee voted on the bill. He was actually out of town when the tie vote was taken.

"I knew from conversations I had with Republicans on the committee it was likely to tie," Wanzenried said.


Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.
 

Cal

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I thought it would be nice to give the Jackass a break and replace it with the Dung Beetle, or maybe the Liver fluke worm.
 

Liberty Belle

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I'm wondering if the problem you are having with your governor in Montana isn't more the power of the office corrupting than the party he belongs to, although, goodness knows, there are certainly big problems within the Democratic Party. Here in South Dakota, we have a Republican governor and he acts much the same way. He was preceded by another Republican governor who seemed to think he had been appointed king with all the inherent power granted to a monarch of a third world oligarchy.

As a VERY conservative Republican, it pains me to say this, but if we don't vote in a Democrat to clean out the entrenched corruption in Pierre, we as a state, are going to be up that proverbial creek without a paddle.

Thanks goodness we had sense enough to send a decent man to Washington to replace Tom Daschle, who incidentally was a close friend of Bill Janklow, our last Republican governor and convicted felon.
 

Hanta Yo

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Woww, didn't know that, and I never thought much of Daschle. We were so glad when he was made gone. I guess it makes sense to talk about these things here, I never knew your Repub. governor was so bad! Our last couple governors were pretty good, but this guy, (Schweitzer) is somethin' else!
 

ez now

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Thats not hard to figure out. A jackass is a mule, Thats the one that does all the hard work.
 

Bull Burger

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ez now said:
Thats not hard to figure out. A jackass is a mule, Thats the one that does all the hard work.


eznow, a jackass is a donkey or a domesticated ass. A mule is a cross between an donkey and a horse.


Word: ass
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English assa, probably from Old Irish asan, from Latin asinus
1 : any of several hardy gregarious African or Asian perissodactyl mammals (genus Equus) smaller than the horse and having long ears; especially : an African mammal (E. asinus) that is the ancestor of the donkey


Word: mule
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French mul, from Latin mulus
1 a : a hybrid between a horse and a donkey; especially : the offspring of a male donkey and a mare
b : a self-sterile plant whether hybrid or not
c : a usually sterile hybrid
 

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