Performing Surgery With a Chainsaw

Rep. Ken Peterson (R-Billings) presented his bill to address croneyism to the House State Administration committee last Thursday. HB145 would “Require resignation of legislative seat prior to taking government job”. Rep. Peterson introduced the legislation in response to the current administration’s liberal policy of – or policy of liberally – appointing or hiring sitting legislators to executive positions in the administrative branch. He’s probably correct in calling that an unconstitutional infringement on the separation of powers between the branches of government. His response, however, was akin to using an elephant gun to take out a flea on a donkey’s butt.

HB145, as written and introduced, prohibits any federal, state, or local government employee or contractor from being a legislator. As the testimony during the hearing pointed out, that would impact at least 16 members of the current legislature. Even his fellow republicans on the committee could clearly see the flaws in the bill; some of them valiantly offering to assist him in amending the bill.

In the interests of public service, let me offer the following:

Amend the bill to read: “An Act Prohibiting a sitting member of the Montana House or Senate from seeking or accepting an exempt or non-exempt position in either the executive or judicial branches or on any compensated advisory board of any state executive or judicial agency during the legislator’s term of office…” and then make the rest of the language reflect that specific change.

Rep. Peterson is a lawyer, not a doctor, but he ought to be able to come up with a proposal that addresses the issue – elected officials rewarding “friendly” legislators with cushy state jobs – without killing the patient in the process. HB145 in its present form is botched surgery at best; legislative malpractice at a minimum.

4 thoughts on “Performing Surgery With a Chainsaw

  1. Thanks, Steve. Actually the current bill is a waste of time, effort, and paper. Peterson should be ashamed of himself for that piece of crap. It was embarrassing to listen to the hearing.

  2. Peterson’s bills leave much to be desired this session. HB 33 makes it criminal to drive with any drug or drug metabolite in your system. Exceptions are made for those using legally prescribed drugs though- as it that makes them safer drivers? I cannot even imagine the sort of chaos enforcing this law would create. Essentially poppy seed muffins would be illegal- for as long as they were detectable in bloodstream or urine. And someone who smoked some marijuana weeks ago? They could now be driving under the influence, weeks after using the drug.

    While I’m no fan of illegal drugs- I’m no fan of legal ones either- this sort of law is invasive and illogical. Plenty of non-prescription drugs cause impairment as well and there is no field test for suspected drugs. The most impairing factor of all, I believe; is sleep deprivation.

    While I believe impaired driving is a horrible problem in Montana, creating more laws to arrest more people for DUI seems silly when every day we read about yet another driver charged with their 13th DUI…. yet they are not in prison. Hmmm.

  3. I’ve watched Peterson for two sessions now and cannot believe he actually went to grade school, let alone law school. I wonder by how much his legislative income exceeds his income from practicing law? I don’t mean to be snarky or to speak ill of a fellow Republican, but – wow- this guy says some of the most illogical, incomprehensible drivel I’ve ever heard.

    I guess, in a citizen legislature, it’s comforting to know that the congenitally stupid are also well-representated.

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