In his latest proclamation from the House floor, Speaker, Austin Knudsen holds forth on respect for the rules of “procedural maneuvering”. Yes, it appears there are rules.
He decries the passage of the Healthy Montana Act (SB405) as a “massive expansion of Obamacare in our state” and “medical welfare”. That’s all well and good and I’m sure that is his honest opinion. After all, he does support the process by which the bill was passed.
“I respect legislators who make decisions on policy for their constituents — that’s why they sent us here.”
But, it seems that what he doesn’t support is that bill was passed over his objections. Big bills, such as the Healthy Montana Act and the ratification of the the CSKT Water Compact (SB262) are passing the legislature over the objections of the Tea Party leadership and apparently that’s not seen as acceptable by a minority of members.
“A group of representatives who were upset that they weren’t getting their way used procedural maneuvering to sidestep the rules, rendering them basically meaningless. This group has decided that they will use any means necessary to get what they want even if it means breaking the rules. A civilized body should never resort to an “ends justifies the means” mentality.”
Respect for the rules is proper and right. We all live by mutually agreed to rules, but those rules can be changed by collective agreement. Yes, there was a certain amount of bending of the rules by both sides in these debates, but that seems to be the way the system works.
One important point seems to be overlooked by the Speaker. Both of these important bills were supported by a majority of Montana citizens and expressed through their duly-elected representatives. In votes of 54-42 and 53-47, a majority of House members consisting of both Democrats and Republicans were able to express their endorsement in our legislature. Rules are rules of course, but rules are not law. No amount of legislative canoodling, or political chicanery, by either side, was able to muzzle the voice of the people of the Treasure State and to me, that seems to be a good thing.