Horse Sense: Golden Rule might be best legislative reform for Montana

October 7, 2007

Talk of major legislative reforms in Montana, spurred by the rancorous 2007 session, dominated the two-day Burton K. Wheeler Center conference in Helena last week.

Speakers made repeated calls for repealing term limits and switching to annual legislative sessions.

In the end, however, some relatively minor procedural changes might be more likely to be achieved.

One idea that wouldn’t require a single change to the Montana Constitution or state law might ensure that the disaster that was the 2007 regular legislative session never repeats itself. That would be for legislators, and Gov. Brian Schweitzer, to follow the Golden Rule by treating others, regardless of their political party, as they would like to be treated.

One audience member, Don Loranger, of Bigfork, who lost a Republican Senate primary race in 2006, decried the “food fight’’ he read about at the split 2007 Legislature and the unprecedented level of “rancor and nastiness and trickery.’’

His sound advice to legislators was: “I would suggest you ramp up your style and grace.’’

By Chuck Johnson, IR State Bureau

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