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Montana's GOP legislators gaining national attention - Democratic legislators share hopes, frustrations about the session

February 27, 2011View for printing

The Militia of Montana is but a fading memory.

The Freemen? Forgotten.

Unabomber? Yawn.

In recent years, Montana finally seemed to be ceding its national-stereotype status as a place where renegades run amok. Other states jostled for position. Arizona, where a new immigration law caused a wide-ranging ruckus, was a contender until tragedy struck. Texas and California are perennial favorites.

Montana was close, so tantalizingly close, to what the rest of the country seems to view as sanity. Then - bang! The gavel sounded for the 2011 Legislature. Cue the whimper.

National scrutiny is again focused on Montana, this time because of proposals before the Legislature. Those include a collection of bills to nullify federal legislation, including the Endangered Species Act, as well as a "birther" bill to require state-mandated proof of citizenship for presidential candidates; bills to smack down locally approved ordinances on marijuana and protections for gay people (take that, Missoula); and let's not forget the bill that would have made county sheriffs the supreme authority.

By GWEN FLORIO of the Missoulian

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Democratic legislators share hopes, frustrations about the session

The Democratic lawmakers also brought up a slew of bills they could only shake their heads at. These include bills to legalize spear hunting, to nullify the Endangered Species Act and to allow people to carry guns almost anywhere.

“This is my first session, so I’m a little shell shocked,” McNally said, alluding to the bills and sparking laughter in the room.

By SUSAN OLP Of The Gazette Staff‌ The Billings Gazette

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