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A fascinating element as a session unfolds is the drama and emotion that come with some bills.

Not political partisanship kind of emotion, this is the ‘tug at your heart’ stuff. Holy buckets what a week.

The first of the four was a tribal bill, proposing we change Columbus Day to Montana Heritage Day.

The reasons for the bill was based on why honor a man that was a murderer, slave trader, tyrant, evil person. Replacing that with ‘heritage’ can honor all of us. The logic is strong, I get that and like it.

The resistance is changing our history. Columbus was an explorer, carrying out the mission of Spain to conquer new lands. That process also made him a ‘discoverer.’ He is credited for ‘discovering’ America. Should we change that after all these years?

The bill failed in committee, 9 – 11. I voted no.

Abolition of the death penalty comes up every session.

An interesting side note is the reluctance of the ‘veteran legislators’.’ They would rather not have to vote on the House floor because of the public display of their vote.

The emotions are very deep and divided, and they would rather not publicly defend their vote. I don’t like the drama that goes with the bill, but I am open about my feelings. I think it’s time to abolish, but once again won’t get the chance to vote as the bill was tabled in committee.

Sexual awareness and prevention policy for public schools, aimed at the 6 to 12 year old ages was heard in House Education Wednesday.

The room was packed, with testimony from some of the young victims themselves.

One mother holding the hand of her daughter as she spoke, another young gal, that could barely look over the podium, pulled the mic down, reading from her hand written testimony she had wrote herself and torn from her notebook. The tissue box was busy, the stories heart wrenching, the need for awareness made convincingly.

The bill should pass easily, but not with the muscle I would like. New curriculum and printed materials require additional funding which we don’t have this session. However, what we can do is get the policy established requiring OPI and the Department of Education to create.

Heartaches every day now as bills that have any new funding often get tabled in committee, not because of lacking need, only because we lack the funds.

Some do go on to the appropriations committee to wait until the end to see what’s left to work with. What is causing part of this is the budget hole that has to be backfilled?

Most departments will receive some reductions. But not all ... we have already passed through the House the inflationary increase for education.

The need to backfill was created by the governor and his administration spending down the ending fund balance, what we at home call our savings account, over the last two years. $300 million was the plan when we left in 2015. Today it’s less than $100 million.

Reality came quick as the actual revenues coming in began to decline.

The U of M School of Business Economic forecast for the next two years showed a decline. Yet the spending continued. The savings account began to decline.

Now we have to return those funds. Our education committee is hearing bills asking for much needed special education funding, along with needed funding for the gifted and talented. Not huge amounts, it’s $2 or $3, or $6 or $8 million, money we might be able to commit if the ending fund balance was in place. Beginning reductions two years ago would be savings today.

That’s how it looked and felt this week. Hope your snow melts slowly.