On Monday, Jan. 3, the Missoulian published another column from Kendall Cotton, on Red Tape Relief. Mr. Cotton states that “the accumulation of thousands of regulations has been shown to stifle economic growth and substantially increase the cost of doing business.” He states that many of these regulations are “unnecessary.” Many of us can probably concur with this sentiment in some regard, but with the caveat of saying, like beauty, unnecessary is in the eye of the beholder.
We have a question for Mr. Cotton. Where does he think all these regulations came from? The Montana Legislature has been controlled by Republicans for every session except three since 1993. The last session in 2021, Republicans pushed through over 700 new bills, over 100 more bills than an average session from 2003 to 2019. It seems the party of “smaller government” has no problem making it larger if it meets their agenda. In fact, this is just another GOP myth. The GOP is simply fine with growing government by imposing regulations on everyone’s life if they are pushing their social agenda.
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Laws against transgender people, restricting access to voting, complicating eligibility for health coverage, etc. etc. Look at the complete debacle they have made of the legalization of marijuana in Montana! Layers and layers of regulations on use, businesses, and consumers. Why? Because like many of GOP positions, they suffer from the belief that everyone should adopt their morality, and pot use is immoral to them, as is being trans, or a member of the LGBTQ community, and so on. So they set themselves the task of finding a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist (just as they continue to try to do with “voter fraud” investigations) and thus, they completely messed up the spirit of the initiative passed by 58% of Montana voters to legalize recreational use of pot.
So, fellow citizens, be alert! The search and destroy mission on “unnecessary” regulations will target anything progressive — clean water (already under attack), protection of public ownership of wildlife (already under attack), access to or the sale of public lands (already under attack), rights of transgender and LGBTQ community (already under attack), voting equity and access (already under attack), women’s right to choose (severely under attack) and many other issues.
These folks intend to use the institutions of democracy to destroy democracy.
Rebecca Johnson is a retiree living in Montana City who has spent the last few years working as a volunteer organizer for several organizations to register Montana voters.
Jim Smith, M.A., is a longtime social activist. He served seven years on the board of the Montana Veterans Foundation and was a founding member of Montana Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF).