Democrats are looking to take advantage of the 2014 election to make gains in Big Sky Country. According to an article in The Missoulian, "For the first time in the party’s history, the Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee has hired a full-time, year-round director. In the past, it was a temporary job lasting six to nine months in an election year."
In the space of less than a day, Montana Senate Republicans rushed through yet another attempt to abolish Election Day voter registration. Senate Bill 405 "would ask voters to eliminate same-day voter registration" and "was heard late Wednesday afternoon but was given very little notice" before a party-line, Thursday vote. But instead of going to the Governor's desk where past voter suppression bills have met a Democratic veto, SB 405 would instead take the form of a popular referendum if the state House agrees as well.
This circumvention of normal checks and balances has been a favorite tactic of Montana Republicans, who last session rushed through a series of referenda for the same reason, which "led to a very long ballot in the 2012 election." Another ballot larded with Tea Party referenda, combined with thousands of voters suddenly finding that their right to correct their registration at the polls has been taken away, would pretty much guarantee snarled polling places as soon as SB 405 went into effect.
Since his election in 2010, Montana Republican state Rep. Steve Lavin has been a consistent enemy of voting rights... for people. Just this month, he voted yet again to abolish Election Day voter registration. But Lavin's clear disdain for people's voting rights hasn't stopped him from filing new legislation extending voting rights to corporations.
Lavin's recently-filed HB 486 declares that "if a firm, partnership, company, or corporation owns real property within the municipality, the president, vice president, secretary, or other designee of the entity is eligible to vote in a municipal election as provided in [section 1] (...) on behalf of the entity."
The Montana legislature had an opportunity today to ensure that tax dollars generated by Montana residents stayed in the state, but the Republicans in the legislature voted down this proposal. According to the Associated Press, a legislative committee turned back legislation written to "increase the mandatory hiring percentage of Montana workers on public-works projects in the state. The measure would have required that at least 75 percent of the laborers on state or local projects be Montana residents. The current requirement is 50 percent."