Editorial – Time for Wagner to focus on Madison County issues

Last week our representative Bob Wagner introduced House Bill 205 to the House State Administration committee. The bill would require, among other things, presidential candidates to file a copy of their birth certificate with the Montana Secretary of State.

This bill isn’t unique to Montana or Mr. Wagner. Bills similar to this have popped up in several other states including Arizona, Connecticut, Nebraska and Texas.

Mr. Wagner says the bill is required to close a loophole in the constitution and prevent any question to a candidate’s citizenship. He claims the bill doesn’t have anything to do with President Obama.

However, the motivation for the bill assumes Obama’s citizenship is in doubt. I would say this question continues to persist with a relative few number of people nationally and that it persists at all, despite adequate proof to the contrary, gives even more credence to the notion that HB 205 is simply based on a conspiracy theory.

Even more troubling is the rhetoric Mr. Wagner has used in pushing his bill.

In the committee hearing where his bill was presented, Wagner invoked the memory of the Oklahoma City bombing in referring people who feel disenfranchised because they don’t believe Obama is a U.S. Citizen. Referring to acts of terrorism in the closing arguments in the committee hearing for this bill was unnecessary and irresponsible.

His closing sentence was similarly heated; challenging the committee to pass the bill because doing so would demonstrate fidelity to their oath of office.

“I beg you people act. I beg you do not separate yourself as Democrat, Republican, left, right, liberal conservative … I beg you show some dignity to the oath of the office you swore to defend and uphold,” he told the members of the committee.

My problem here is not necessarily with the bill, though I do think it is a tremendous waste of time for our legislature (particularly when both the senate and the house have more on their plate than they’re likely to get through in 90 days). My problem is that this demonstrates an unwillingness by Mr. Wagner to provide leadership on the issues facing residents of his district.

Last year during the primary race when Mr. Wagner faced a challenge from two fellow Republicans, I sat through a few candidate forums, hosted a debate and talked to many people about the race and the issues facing Madison County. This past December, Mr. Wagner and Debby Barrett, who represents Madison and Beaverhead Counties in the senate, listened again to constituents at a meeting with Madison County Commissioners.

I heard people tell Mr. Wagner that they were concerned with the impact wolves are having on their livestock, they were tired of struggling with the brucellosis issue, they wanted to see a commonsense approach to developing our natural resources. I heard people talk about the economy, jobs, healthcare and affordable housing. Many people brought up the Ruby Dam project and the fact that the funding for the final piece of the project – expanding the reservoir – is now up in the air.

On all these issues Madison County and House District 71 need leadership in the legislature. It’s a big task and a big job.

However, I never heard someone ask Mr. Wagner go to Helena and find a way to keep Obama off the 2012 ballot in Montana.

Thankfully, Ms. Barrett is doing her part. This session she has already brought bills forward dealing with large predators, grizzly bears and redefining renewable resources. Whether you agree with her bills or not, the simple fact she is responding to the concerns of her constituents is refreshing.

But Mr. Wagner seems to have a different emphasis. As of Tuesday he has introduced three bills. Besides HB 205, he has a bill that would give parents a religious exemption to immunization requirements for daycares and a bill addressing the rights of jurors in a jury trial.

He still has several bills that have yet been introduced, including bills dealing with state sovereignty, gold standard and the privatization of Cataract Dam near Pony.

I know Mr. Wagner’s primary concern in serving his constituents is adhering to the Montana and U.S. Constitutions, as well as his fidelity to his oath of office. I certainly applaud him for that. But there must be a way to keep focus on his constitutional duties, while providing voice and leadership to the issues important to the lives and livelihoods of his constituents.

10 Responses to Editorial – Time for Wagner to focus on Madison County issues

  1. John D White says:

    Greg, you hit the nail on the head with this guy. He has no other agenda other than the Tea Pot Manifesto. He a waste of time in the legislature. Any lawmaker who introduces bills that do no contain the words “Jobs” or “environment” do not deserve to be in Helena.

    Also see Billings Outpost Editor David Crisp discussion about his emails from birther-bill sponsor Rep. Bob Wagner, the hypocrisy of Will Deschamps, and “domestic enimies” in the piece “Wacky season arrives early in state Legislature .”

  2. Lisa Roberts says:


    I agree. It is time for all the reasonable people of this district to wake up. We fell asleep at the wheel and this who we ended up with. Disgraceful, the people of Madison County and the State of Montana Deserve better than this!

  3. Dawn Hagedorn says:

    I disagree with Greg and find his editorial as the Editor of our newspaper to be extremely biased and unfounded. Rep Wagner is a STATE Representative not COUNTY Commissioner. The job of our representative is to represent the people of Madison County and Montana in the making and enforcing of Montana laws.

    His job is not just to go up to Helena and see how much Federal money he can get siphoned our way… quite the contrary he is there to protect our interests and freedoms as Montanans. In my opinion he is doing a wonderful job. Even with a busy schedule he is always available to constituents.

    Greg’s talking points are just that, and fit right in with the philosophy of “if you can’t defeat a conservative issue on its merits then denegrate it with name calling (i.e. birther) or any other means necessary to get the focus off of the true issue at hand”.

    If anyone has read the bill they would know that it not only requires presidential candidates to prove they are eligible to hold that position but all other candidates as well. This is obviously over due, what is wrong with proving eligibility with documentation BEFORE an election is held. This seems like common sense to me…

  4. Shylea Wingard says:

    Your editorial is very good. Thanks for bringing to light the “issues” and then letting me investigate & inform my own opinions. You are going to take some heat, but you have my support. Bob Wagner is a very nice man, easy to chat with and well-intentioned, but I thought he was “out-of-touch” with meaningful issues prior to his election. Your editorial just highlights how out-of-touch. While the editorial “may be your opinion” I still think you reported the facts on both Bob & Debby objectively. Thanks!

  5. pat graham says:

    We all want the same thing. A house, a car, a job, maybe some kids or neighbors and an occassional BBQ. The 24 news channels have pitted against each other to sell advertizing and the politcians have pitted us against each other for their own gain of power and greed with their their parties and corporate sponsers. We must demand that these people that represent us talk about jobs, healthcare, social security and medicare and any other issues that represent the needs of the people especially in these tough times. So call em up or e mail em and demand job creation before they talk about or introduce any other bills. And by the way, you may want to figure out how much money medical marijuana has put in the economy and possibly kept our unemployment #’s down before you try to repeal it. Its quite a bit less harmful than a single cocktail and the money trickles up. And try to realize that it was a ballot initiative so it should be put back on the ballot for the people to vote on. Please stop wasting our tax dollars trying to fool us with your moral greatness. POLITICIANS “GO TO WORK”!!!! pat graham

  6. Marilyn Ross says:

    Greg, Thank you for your editorial. I applaud your responsible journalistic ethics and your courage in speaking the truth to power. Good for you.

  7. John D White says:

    Again our legislators who embrace the Tea Pot Manifesto have embarrassed the residents of Montana, First we had Wagner on national TV with his 60’s tie askew making Montana look bad, now we have Rep. Joe Read of Ronan who has introduced a bill to legislate away Global Warming! (BZN Chronicle 2/19//11 p.C4 by Matt Volz). His bill proclaims that Global Warming is good for Montana because the CO2 makes the grass grow taller and greener. His bill indicates that G/W is natural and not caused by humans in spite of international scientific recognition of the problem. Read some hows relates that because G/W is not addressed by the US Constitution, state law trump any Federal Laws to regulate CO2 emissions and thus his bill.

    How did these people like Read and Wagner get elected? Is the current Legislative session going to waste all of it’s time dealing with the Tea Pot Manifesto instead of jobs and the environment? Will Montanans be embarrassed again? More to come……

  8. Dawn Hagedorn says:

    Global warming is not a science. It has been proven with released private correspondences between global warming ‘scientists’ that alot of the information they used as ‘facts’ to supposedly prove global warming was doctored and/or manufactured…

    Anyway, after this embarassing release of private emails and one of the coldest winters on record the terminology was changed from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change”. I know its hard but we need to keep our buzz words straight if we are going to debate 🙂

    Tea Pot Manifesto… hmmm same old strategy, like I said “if you can’t defeat a conservative issue on its merits then denegrate it with name calling or any other means necessary to get the focus off of the true issue at hand”.

  9. John D White says:

    I would suggest that the writer of the previous post do a little more reading on the subject and not buy into the popular media sensationalism.

    The issue at hand is that the elected representative has chosen to introduce bills that waste the legislature’s time and money that have nothing to do with improving Madison County.

  10. Dawn Hagedorn says:

    Quite the contrary. At LEAST one bill that Representative Wagner introduced potentially could have saved the state a significant amount money. I had requested Representative Wagner to sponsor HB 227 on behalf of a bipartisan grass roots organization of parents with significantly more Democrats than Republicans in this group.

    Being more concerned with protecting Montanan’s Constitutional rights than he is with Republican vs Democrat he agreed. Unfortunately for Montana(and our budget) it failed in the house 49-50. Had this bill passed it would have prevented a lawsuit from this group which will most likely be forthcoming. This bill which Rep Wagner sponsored would have saved Montana money…

    I will not debate the merits of this bill on this blog. So don’t bother trying to engage me on it. If someone truly wants the truth regarding this bill they will not attack it here. Please feel free to email me at gowest@3rivers.net and I will be happy to share the FACTS with you.

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