By HDN staff
With almost startling quickness the special session of the Montana Legislature met and passed a water rights compact with the Crow tribe of south-central Montana.
During the same two-day session, lawmakers also managed to pass the removal of a $20 surcharge that was inadvertently left on the minimum fine speeders had to pay for breaking the new Montana speed limit law.
The first of these two pieces of legislation has most likely put to rest once and for all an issue that has plagued the relationship between the Crow Tribe and the State of Montana for more than 20 years.
It was passed overwhelmingly with only 22 dissenting votes.
While both pieces of legislation are significant, we cant help but feel what was most amazing about this accomplishment is that it was passed in just two days and without the l
Legislature meeting in the Capitol Building. Remodeling work at the Capitol forced the legislators to conduct their business at Carroll College. None of the conveniences normally granted our elected officials were available there.
It could, in fact, be claimed that conditions were almost primitive.
Yet, through it all, the legislators were not only able to pass legislation, but pass legislation that saved Montana a $300 million lawsuit and resolved a water and tax dispute that goes all the way back to 1978.
Have we accidentally stumbled upon a new means by which Montana can expedite the work of our Legislature? Is this an idea whose time has come?
While legislation can normally take months in committee, days in debate, and hours to pass, this special session may have shown us a way to make government more efficient.
Perhaps the state would be better served if a padlock was placed on the Capitol permanently and our legislators were forced to meet in less comfortable surroundings perhaps even outdoors.
How long do you think it would take to reach a decision if they had to suffer a Montana winter before going inside?
Of course, some might argue that all the hot air legislators produce would mitigate temperatures to a point where it would actually be quite comfortable outside.
Regardless of the accuracy of such sentiments, we want to congratulate the Legislature for what is obviously a truly momentous accomplishment. We only wish this same degree of efficiency could be obtainable during the regular session, but it lessens not our pride in what was accomplished this time.
Well done legislators, now lets see if you can do it again.