The GOP’s Sorry Post-Session Blame Game Confessions

You just can’t make this stuff up. Here we are only weeks after Montana’s chaotic 90-day legislative session ended and guess what? The Republicans, who held a two-thirds supermajority in both the Senate and House are lamenting the lack of due diligence they gave to the laws they passed and by which all Montanans must now live.

First, let’s put it in perspective. There were two Republicans for every Democrat in the session. Given that historic domination, the majority could do anything it wanted without a single Democrat vote.

They could and did pass the budget with whatever they wanted while basically ignoring what Democrats may have wanted. They could and did pass any bill, regardless of it’s cost, because they controlled the appropriation process top to bottom.

They could and did give away huge chunks of the state’s fiscal surplus in tax breaks to the already wealthy.

They could and did gut the laws that protect Montana’s legendary environment, lands, air, fish and wildlife in total disregard of the state’s constitutional mandates to the contrary.

They could and did hide behind a phony “Freedom Caucus” to do just the opposite — take away Montanans’ existing freedoms. They made a mockery of our state’s long-standing reputation as a tolerant “live and let live” state in favor of “live like we tell you to live.”

They could and did close the Capitol’s galleries to members of the public, so we couldn’t even observe their actions during debate.

They could and did kill any Democrat bill before it even cleared committee —although the Democrat “agenda” was so pitiful it didn’t take much effort on the GOP’s part.

And they could over-ride the governor’s veto without a single Democrat vote.

It was a “one-party rules all” session since the GOP held the Legislature, the governor’s office and the attorney general’s office — with the secretary of state tossed in for good measure.

But now, with the post-session confessions flowing, it blatantly points out that the Republicans who were totally in charge failed to prudently manage their power. They basically let their members run wild.

And the cost of that blunder? As reported: “Lawmakers lament lack of ‘due diligence’ on historic volume of legislation,” in which GOP Speaker Pro Tem Rhonda Knudsen made a stunning confession: “I think we had too many bills.” Given there were 4,634 bills requested, 1,698 introduced, and 905 passed, that seems like a firm grasp of the obvious. And the result? “We didn’t have enough bandwidth to hear those bills well enough, to debate those bills well enough. In every committee that I was a part of, I felt like we had to rush our agenda, rush through those bills, and we didn’t give them the due diligence that they deserved.”

Speaker of the House Matt Regier tried to blame lack of staff, saying: “I don’t think we can do another session with that bandwidth and our capacity that we’re at.” “Bandwidth?” Leaving the techno-babble “bandwidth” dodge aside, let’s call it what it was — a complete failure to properly manage his supermajority caucus, the exact duty with which the Speaker of the House is solely responsible.

Meanwhile, the Senate is now engaged in a similar finger-pointing exercise of blame and counter-blame. Why? Because their procedural gaffe has left them incapable of voting to override the governor’s veto of the popular marijuana tax revenue bill that was supported by 130 legislators.

And again, who is actually to blame? Hilariously, there’s no one but themselves to blame because they were 100% in charge. You really can’t make this stuff up…nor ignore the GOP’s increasingly evident inability to prudently govern.

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.