[Editor’s Note: The original title says that Knudsen is a whip in the Montana House; In actuality, Knudsen is the House Pro Tempore. The title has been changed to reflect this correction]
It’s an odd year in the Montana legislature, for sure. We have already seen Republicans, like Mallerie Stromswold (“R”-HD50), Wendy McKamey (“R”-HD19) and Casey Knudsen (R-HD33) vote against a ban on child genital mutilation. Meanwhile, steadfast RINO leader of the Solutions Caucus, Llew Jones, has raised his Legistats score to a D (it is usually an F). Adding more bizarreness, Republicans in the Judiciary Committee voted to table a seemingly great gun bill for reasons that are still unclear. Some things are unpredictable, and this legislative session seems to prove it.
House whip, Casey Knudsen, has sponsored legislation that will increase the size of state government and swell the cost of the legislature’s bureacracy.
The bill’s full-length title is, “AN ACT REVISING LAWS RELATED TO EXEMPT PERSONAL STAFF; AUTHORIZING EXEMPT PERSONAL STAFF FOR MAJORITY AND MINORITY LEADERSHIP IN THE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE SENATE; REDUCING THE NUMBER OF EXEMPT PERSONAL
STAFF FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION TO OFFSET THE NUMBER OF EXEMPT STAFF FOR
THE LEGISLATURE; AMENDING SECTION 2-18-104, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.”
Knudsen’s bill will allow the legislature to hire a total of up to four partisan staff during the interim. This is not only a growth of government, but the fiscal note has yet to be produced. In short, we don’t know what it will cost.
The House already employs the Chief Clerk of the House and the Senate employs the Secretary of the Senate during the interim to conduct business as needed. Committee staff are also available to interim committees which typically only meet once per quarter during the interim.
This bill will allow Democrats to have up to two partisan staffers who will no doubt dedicate a great amount of time to harassing Governor Gianforte – much like democrats did to President Trump for four years.
We are a citizen legislature – and the fourth most part-time legislature in the nation. Only the Dakotas and Wyoming meet less than the Montana legislature. How these full-time staffers will spend their time in the 2,080 hours per year Knudsen wants them to work is altogether unknown and, up until now, unnecessary.
Rep. Knudsen is an apt legislator, ordinarily leaning conservative, and is a fine human being. But Montana voters should look sideways at any bill being carried by Republicans designed to expand the size and expense of state government.