The collective wisdom of our legislators left most Montana residents gasping for air last week.
Just when we thought the state legislature could not be more useless, two of our local lawmakers proposed failed ideas retrieved from the musty shelves of history. Some of the proposals could be taken for the work of the insane or the terminally befuddled. In other words, the retreat from progress is being made in Helena at roughly the same pace as the session two years ago.
And we are left to wish our legislators were leading the state in some way other than as drum majors of the biennial parade of fools.
A plan to solve campaign financing inequities by removing all restrictions makes as much sense as using high-octane gas to fight house fires instead of water.
Everyone in the state agrees runaway contributions are damaging our electoral process by allowing contributors to attempt to buy political influence. The idea to completely remove all restrictions on contributors is a throwback to the days when Anaconda Copper controlled state government with its deep pockets. The legislator appears to be pandering to the political interests of the richest one percent in the most shameless fashion. It seems to be a blatant attempt to sell the state government to any out of state contributor who cares to buy it.
Does the sponsoring legislator see himself as a latter day Copper King? Or merely a king maker?
We should all ask why enormous campaign contributions from out of state interests are so important to Montana’s way of life. Is there a plan to make Montana a Third World country? This plan will certainly accomplish the goal of disenfranchising Montana’s voters.
Then there is yet another disturbing proposal from the always entertaining if terribly misguided King of the Canyon. Only in some alternative universe does the plan to allow corporal punishment to be substituted for incarceration make sense.
What makes the bill’s sponsor think a hardened offender will change his ways after 50 lashes of the whip when years in the state pen don’t seem to be changing any criminal’s habits? In the history of mankind, whipping people has never wrought lasting change.
It makes one wonder if the sponsor has been reading speculative novels about the Spanish Inquisition or sampling too much redeye instead of considering legislation during his stay in Helena. By the time the snow melts perhaps there will be a proposal to bring back burning at the stake as a substitute for lethal injection.
Requiring new bills to pass a psychiatric test before they are accepted for debate might help clear some of the logjam in Helena.