Prairie Lights: Despair no more, Legislature LXIV explained


This is what happens during an infrastructure shortage.

Now that the 2015 Montana Legislature has adjourned, lots of regular Montanans are confused about what actually happened in Helena, which coincidentally is the condition a good many legislators found themselves in when it was finally over.

The 64th session, or Legislature LXIV as fans of state government affectionately call it, featured a raft of complicated legislation, parliamentary maneuvering worthy of Machiavelli and the usual ration of ding-dong bills meant to deal with life-or-death issues like yoga pants.


Ed Kemmick

So, let us turn to the trusty question-and-answer format to explain, as best we can, some of the most confounding aspects of the recent political donnybrook.

Q. Everyone is talking about how the Legislature adjourned without passing an important infrastructure bill. Did they just forget, or what?

A. No. The Republicans, who cruised into Helena with sizable majorities in both “chambers” of the Legislature (that was not a gun reference), somehow failed to win three of the biggest fights—over Medicaid expansion, a “dark money” bill and something called the “Confederated Salish and Kootenai Water Compact.” In a fit of pique, figuring they had to register at least one win, they decided to kill the infrastructure bill.

Q. What is infrastructure?

A. Infrastructure is the glue that holds structures together. It is a thick, amber-colored paste that has miraculous powers as a binding agent. It keeps roads intact, holds sewer pipes together and in brick construction has proven to be three times more effective than standard mortar.

Q. OK, fine, but what was the infrastructure bill all about?

A. Well, we don’t really have a handle on that. But it was defeated. Things could start falling apart soon, unless Gov. Steve Bullock calls a special session, which would be known as Legislature LXIV½.

Q. How about that “dark money” bill? What was that all about?

A. This was a piece of legislation going to the very core of our national identity. The Democrats, and a few so-called “moderate” Republicans, decided they were tired of the bland old greenbacks, or “dark money,” that have been in circulation in this country for decades. They wanted something more in the pastel line, like Euro notes, or something bold and colorful, like Swiss folding money. The conservative Republicans lost this battle, but the vote was only advisory, since the federal government still prints the dough. This could be a big battle in the 2016 presidential election.

Q. Please explain that water compact mentioned above.

A. Here, alas, we have to confess that despite repeated promises to ourselves, starting long before the session got underway and continuing to the present moment, we never got around to learning the first damned thing about this bill. Our intentions were good, but every time we resolved to sit down and study this legislation, we would find some excuse not to do so. As it turned out, the Legislature didn’t need our help anyway.

Q. There is also a reference above to “Machiavelli.” Who’s he?

A. Machiavelli was an Italian children’s author whose most famous work was “The Little Prince.” It tells the story of a cunning, ruthless little chap who is stranded in the Sahara Desert and will stop at nothing to find his way back home. It is widely considered the most amoral book ever published.

Q. Who published it?

A. The United Nations’ publishing arm, Agenda 21. The stated goal of Agenda 21 is to corrupt every child on earth before he or she turns 21. In addition to publishing overtly evil, cynical books like “The Little Prince,” Agenda 21 subtly works to persuade nations to adopt seemingly innocuous proposals, including the introduction of effeminate currency. A Republican-backed bill condemning Agenda 21 failed yet again.

Q. Just to be clear, are yoga pants illegal in Montana now?

A. No. The yoga-pants bill introduced by David “Doc” Moore, R-Missoula, was defeated, though a little known companion bill—to prohibit the wearing of skin-tight Neoprene bodysuits while surfing on the Clark Fork River—was recently signed into law.

Q. What, in your opinion, was the most important bill to come out of Legislature LXVI?

A. Our personal favorite was the bill to create an interim study commission to look into whether federal control of public land in Montana is really working. A preliminary study concluded that this region was managed with almost preternatural excellence for several thousand years by the original inhabitants of the area. The situation, the study said, has only worsened since the arrival of the first two federal bureaucrats, M. Lewis and W. Clark. The interim committee will examine the possibility of ownership reversion.

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