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MontPIRG flunks Republicans for effort in 2001 Legislature

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HELENA - A state consumer and environmental group has graded the 2001 Legislature for its votes on a series of issues, giving 18 Democratic members perfect scores and 29 Republicans a mark of zero.

The Montana Public Interest Research Group scored lawmakers on votes energy regulation, development of new coal-fired generation plans, revisions to the Montana Environmental Policy Act, campaign finance changes and modifications to the state ballot measure process.

MontPIRG gave six senators and 12 House members a 100 percent mark for their performances during the session, while it gave a zero percent score to six other senators and 23 representatives. Overall, it gave the Senate and House an "F" for environmental protection, the Senate an "F" and House a "C" for democracy, the Senate a "D-minus" and House an "F" for energy policy and the Senate a "C" and House a "D" for public health.

"This was a special-interest Legislature and the biggest special interest was the power companies," said Matthew Leow, lobbyist for the group.

Based on MontPIRG's grading, about 20 percent of 2001 lawmakers in each house got a grade of 90 percent or higher.

Grades were based on lawmakers' votes on issues MontPIRG lobbied for or against.

Getting perfect grades were Democratic Sens. Steve Doherty of Great Falls; Jon Ellingson of Missoula; Jim Elliot of Trout Creek; Eve Franklin of Great Falls; Don Ryan of Great Falls; Ken Toole of Helena. Representatives getting top marks of 100 percent were Democrats Eileen Carney of Libby; Bill Eggers of Crow Agency; Ron Erickson of Missoula; Tom Facey of Missoula; Dave Gallik of Helena; Gail Gutsche of Missoula; Hal Jacobson of Helena; Joey Jayne of Arlee; Carol Juneau of Browning; Christine Kaufmann of Helena; Holly Raser of Missoula; and Dave Wanzenried of Missoula.

MontPIRG gave zero scores to Republican Sens. Bill Crismore of Libby; Lorents Grosfield of Big Timber; Ric Holden of Glendive; Walter McNutt of Sidney; Bill Tash of Dillon; and Tom Zook of Miles City.

In the House, the group gave the lowest score to Republican Reps. Joan Anderson of Fromberg; Keith Bales of Otter; Debby Barrett of Dillon; Rod Bitney of Kalispell; John Brueggeman of Polson; Gilda Clancy of Helena; Edith Clark of Sweetgrass; Rick Dale of Whitehall; Ron Devlin of Terry; Don Hedges of Antelope; Dave Kasten of Brockway; Rick Laible of Victor; Larry Lehman of Power; Dan McGee of Laurel; Jeff Pattison of Glasgow; Diane Rice of Harrison; Rick Ripley of Wolf Creek; Don Steinbeisser of Sidney; Bob Story of Park City; Bill Thomas of Hobson; Karl Waitschies of Peerless; Allan Walters of Hamilton; and John Witt of Carter.

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