April 20, 2011
Simply put, he is a liberal Democrat. And that fact accounts for the recent failure of many Republican-backed pro-life and pro-family bills despite the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.
One individuals vote can make all the difference in the world, especially when that individual is the governor of a state. This point can be illustrated by looking at two states in particular: Arizona and Kansas. Both of their former governors, staunch democrats Janet Napolitano and Kathleen Sebelius respectively, were appointed to positions by President Barack Obama. Both states now have Republican governors: Jan Brewer in Arizona, and Sam Brownback in Kansas. In recent weeks several pro-life bills have been sent to those governors desks such as a bill prohibiting abortion after 22 weeks based on fetal pain in KS and a bill strengthening abortion clinic regulations in AZ. These and other similar bills would have been met with a ready veto a few years ago, but instead governors Brownback and Brewer were happy to agree with their legislatures and celebrate the bills passage.
Not so with Governor Brian Schweitzer in Montana. Three bills important to many constituents and legislators alike weathered the long process of hearings, votes, and amendments only to receive a prompt veto upon reaching the governors desk.
Senate Bill 176 prohibits the coverage of abortion in insurance plans created through state exchanges set up by Obamacare. The bill quotes a January 2010 Quinnipiac University poll which states that 7 in 10 Americans opposed the use of federal dollars to cover abortion in health insurance plans. Indeed, because of this, eight states have already passed bills that mirror SB 176 (AZ, ID, LA, MO, MS, TN, UT and VA). Unfortunately, Governor Schweitzer gave it a no-go and without a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override his veto whatever the governor says goes.
This is clearly illustrated with the switched votes of many democrat senators on the vote to override the veto of HB 30. This bill would exempt Health Care Sharing Ministries, faith-based, nonprofit organizations, from being regulated as disability insurance companies or policies. It passed both the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities, gaining the votes of Democrat and Republican legislators, however, when pressed to vote to override the Governors veto, many Democrat's yeas turned into nays.
House Bill 161 repealing the medical marijuana law met a similar fate and was vetoed on April 13th. Click here to see a video highlighting the Governors position on medical marijuana.
Another strong pro-family bill, HB 456, which would have required parental consent for their childs participation in sex education classes in a public school, received a veto the same day. The bill also contained an important clause prohibiting any abortion service provider, such as abortion giant Planned Parenthood, from teaching any courses or offering any materials to students on the school grounds. With this veto the governor sends a message that he believes schools should decide when and how children learn about sex, not their parents.
The good news in all of this is that Governor Brian Schweitzer is term limited. It is not enough, however, to simply breathe a sigh of relief that he will not be running again in 2012. Those who wish to see legislation like that mentioned above signed into law in the future would do well to note that elections have consequences, a governor has an incredible influence on the policy of a state, and voters decide who the governor will be.