Bozeman Daily Chronicle
February 26, 2009

HELENA – Two resolutions to affirm the U.S. Constitution failed to get traction in the House this week, but they sure kicked up a lot of mud.

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House Joint Resolution 26, sponsored by Rep. Michael More, R-Gallatin Gateway, and House Joint Resolution 24, sponsored by Rep. Joel Boniek, R-Livingston, would have gotten state representatives on the record opposing what the sponsors said were excesses of the federal government.

HJ24 sought to urge Congress to “adopt a constitutional, sustainable, and sound monetary system and cease further credit creation and borrowing.” HJ26 aimed to affirm states’ rights and condemn “encroachment of those rights by the federal government and executive orders.”

Resolutions do not carry the weight of law but stand as official statements by Montana’s elected bodies.

Both the resolutions had a tumultuous ride through the legislative process.

Introduced late in the process, Democratic Speaker of the House Bob Bergren first intended to “desk-veto” the measures, a maneuver in which the speaker does not assign a bill or resolution to a committee for a vote.

Last Friday, Bergren said he did not want to burden committees that were wrapping up their work with more legislation and hearings.

That drew fire from Republican leaders, who said all pieces of legislation deserve a hearing. In the face of Republican protest, Bergren scheduled a House Judiciary meeting for Monday afternoon.

With the full House scheduled to meet all day, the committee had little time to hear the resolutions, which brought into the Capitol passionate support from around the state. Emotions were high when people who had driven hundreds of miles to testify in favor of the resolutions were told to keep their testimony under two minutes.

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