HELENA, Mont. - The following is a statement issued by Governor Bullock:
Today was a disappointing day for the State of Montana.
Since I was sworn in as your Governor, I've sought to change the tone in this building. In my State of the State address, I asked the legislature to "act in a manner that we're not ashamed to have our kids watching, because they are." I won't let my kids watch the news tonight.
I'm saddened by what we saw today – it's worse than Washington, DC. I'm not embarrassed by men and women demanding a right to speak – I'm disappointed by those who denied it.
Today, we saw elected Senators, people who have been entrusted by their neighbors to represent them, prevented from speaking – because they were trying to speak for those who are too often silenced.
The Senate sought to eliminate the right to vote for senior citizens who may have moved into an assisted living facility. Active duty military members who were overseas during voter registration. Students, who simply moved down the hall of their dormitory.
Every week I meet with the House and Senate pages. I tell them that there is no more important right, than the one to vote. Because every vote matters. I encourage them to stand up and be counted. To stand up and make their voices heard.
The hyper-partisan nature of the Senate leadership is interfering with our good government.
When our ancestors passed the Corrupt Practices Act – a measure that sought to ensure some degree of confidence in our elected leaders – they weren't acting as Democrats or Republicans. They were acting as Montanans.
We live in a democracy – the greatest on earth. A Democracy where a majority rules, but a minority has a voice and a right to be heard.
The minority has rights – not only rights that were adopted by this legislature, but the right to be respected. Respect is a Montana value - one that should be inherent in all of us who call this place our home.
I strongly encourage Sen. Essmann to reconsider every vote made today. And I encourage the leaders in this body – not just those elected to leadership positions – to stand up and start acting in a way that would make our ancestors and our kids proud.
We have a lot of work to do tonight. I'm sure I'll see everyone tomorrow.