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“The Montana Republican Party supports efforts to return control and authority to local communities, as the government closest and most responsive to the people.”

That quote is taken word-for-word from the Montana Republican Party’s platform, adopted on June 23, 2018. Now that the party controls the governorship and both houses of the Legislature, how has the GOP violated this solemnly avowed principle?

Let us count the ways.

Working their way through the Legislature or already passed are bills that will ban requiring affordable housing requirements as a part of housing developments (House Bill 259), prevent consideration of impacts on agricultural land when reviewing subdivisions (Senate Bill 211), prevent property owners from enacting zoning regulations that prohibit oil and gas development (House Bill 498), and ban local governments from enacting regulations regarding sale of vaping products (Senate Bill 498).

Add to those a measure that prevents enactment of local gun regulations by municipal governments or college campuses and another measure that would remove authority from local health boards to enact public health regulations. And if you want to root around a little more on the Legislature’s website, you’ll find more.

Clearly the Republican Party need to strike the passage from its platform quoted above or acknowledge blatant hypocrisy.

The party has long paid lip service to the importance of concentrating governing powers locally. Party members have railed against the federal government enacting laws that interfere with state laws. Witness the measure under consideration to ban enforcement of federal gun laws by state and local authorities.

But reverence for local control has clearly gone out the window now that the party wields unfettered power. Special interests seeking exemptions from local development, firearms and health regulations are infecting state legislation on a scale not seen before.

Republican lawmakers are not backing off interfering with local government authority. But Gov. Greg Gianforte is urged to use his veto authority to stop these measures.

Absent that, voters are strongly urged to remember this unprecedented meddling in citizens’ authority to govern themselves at the local level when they go to the polls in 2022 and beyond.


Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Michael Wright, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Charles Rinker, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

To send feedback on editorials, either leave a comment on the page below or write to citydesk@dailychronicle.com.

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Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Michael Wright, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

To send feedback on editorials, write to citydesk@dailychronicle.com.