I’m proposing a bill for the next legislature that would require that the sponsor of any bill that passes the legislature and is immediately overturned as unconstitutional by the courts should have to pay the court costs out of his own pocket and loose his seat on the legislature. I mean c’mon, it’s one thing to pay these guys to sit around and come up with this drivel, but then we have to pay all over again to take them to court and prove that they are legally insane. Take Senate Bill 417 as one of the many examples coming out of Helena these days. SB417 would redefine MEPA to make it a non-binding guideline for the legislature. If this law passes, it would be illegal for citizens to challenge an agency action even if the agency makes a mistake on an environmental analysis. The bill is patently unconstitutional as well as stupid. This idiot bill is sponsored by Jim Keane of Butte who is a Democrat and should know better.
The bill not only alters MEPA to make it all but unrecognizable, it changes the meaning of the Montana Constitution. In part, the bill adds this line into law: “The purpose of requiring an environmental analysis and the preparation of an environmental impact statement in part 2 of this chapter is to assist the legislature in determining whether laws are adequate to address impacts to the environment.” Not to assist the citizens of Montana, but to assist the legislature in coming up with these ill conceived laws. It makes an Environmental Analysis a “planning document only”. The constitution says that “The state and each person shall maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations.” Each person, not just the legislature.
And how about this dandy line? (the stricken parts are the current law) “Any action or proceeding under subsection (6)(a)(ii) must take precedence over other cases or matters in the district court unless otherwise provided by law An action or proceeding may not be brought challenging an agency action taken pursuant to parts 1 through 3 of this chapter, and a court has no jurisdiction to review an agency action taken pursuant to those parts.” Whaaaaa? Where did my MEPA go? Can’t we at least make these guys read the constitution and take a quiz or something? This stupid bill will go directly from the legislature to court if it passes and you and I will get stuck for the court costs.
The bill has a hearing before the House Federal Relations, Energy and Telecommunications committee on March 18. Please let your legislators know that we don’t care to pay for their mistakes. Call 406-444-4800 to leave a message for legislators. Email Jim Keane and the committee members or other legislators using the Legislature Online Message Form. Many legislators have personal email addresses that you can use as well.