HELENA — A proposed change to the way the House considers bills has been tabled, for now.

In November, Democrats and some Republicans on the Legislative Council proposed rule changes that would allow lawmakers to move bills to the House floor with a simple majority vote, instead of the supermajority currently required.

In the past, some hot-button bills floundered and died in “kill committees” without enough votes to push them through. In the case of some bills, the House Speaker never assigned the bill to a committee for a hearing, effectively killing it.

In an effort to limit the ability of the leadership to hamstring bills through such parliamentary tactics, a handful of Republicans sided with House Democrats to support the rule changes.

Typically, an interim House Rules Committee debates and votes on proposed rule changes prior to the start of the Legislative session, which begins Jan. 7. But Republicans voted along party lines Tuesday to adjourn the interim committee without debate, and without taking action on the proposed rule changes.

According to committee chairman Rep. Derek Skees, R-Kalispell, lawmakers will take up the issue again on Jan. 8, the second day of the 2019 session.

House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner, D-Great Falls, addressed the committee during Tuesday’s interim House Rules Committee hearing and urged its members to give the rules serious consideration. Schreiner said majority rule is at the heart of the democratic process, and the House should operate by the same rules as the Senate, which does not require a supermajority to “blast” stalled bills out of committee or bring measures to the floor for debate.

“It was pure obstructionism for [the Republicans] to shut down a committee in the middle of business,” Schreiner said after the hearing.

Schreiner is not a member of the rules committee but did testify during public comment on the proposed rule change.

The Legislative Council proposed eight changes to House rules — changes Schreiner said Democrats have sought for years. Democrats have been in the minority in all but two sessions dating back to 1993. In 2005 and in 2009 the House was tied 50-50.

The most dramatic changes would model certain House voting procedures after Senate protocols — specifically those for appointing House standing committees, adopting rules, and re-referral or withdrawal of bills.

In the past, the House has required a three-fifths majority on those measures. By following the Senate’s lead, the 100-member House would need only a simple majority — 51 votes — to move bills to the floor for debate.

Skees said he needed more time to consider the rule-change proposals and their consequences.

“This is a process that would dramatically change the way the House does business. It’s the way we’ve done business for 30 years,” Skees said.

Skees also called the changes “horrible” and said they would sap the majority party’s power and undermine what he views as a mandate from Montana voters to follow the Republican platform.

Republicans currently hold a 58-42 majority in the House. A small group of GOP lawmakers occasionally work with Democrats on certain issues, including the rule-change proposals.

Skees called the group an “oligarchy” trying to manipulate the system.

“Why [do] members of the majority caucus want to pass rules that weaken majority caucus?” Skees said. “That’s my question. That takes an insight into the motives and minds of the individuals doing it, and I can’t go there yet.”

Schreiner argued the proposed changes make House processes more democratic.

“I think we need to take political parties out of this and talk about the number of votes,” he said. “Every person represents a certain number of people in Montana, [and] 51 [votes] represents the majority. It doesn’t matter whose side you’re on, that’s the way you pass legislation.”

John S. Adams contributed to this report. 


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Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - The death toll rises in a deadly shooting at a Chicago hospital. Also on the Tuesday rundown: community health centers rise

to the challenge after wildfires; plus food inspectors can keep your Thanksgiving meal hearty and healthy.


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: tweber1 [CC BY-SA 2.0 
(], via Wikimedia Commons

by Diane Larson


On Thanksgiving Day morning, many wake up to the aroma of turkey roasting in the oven and cooking noises in the kitchen. It brings with it also the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on the television.  Macy’s has held their parade since 1924, this year marks its 94th parade.

Parades and Thanksgiving have been connected since 1920. Macy’s is the most famous, however, this New York department store’s parade was not the first.

Four years prior, in 1920, in Philadelphia, department store Gimbels, held the Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade. According to Wikipedia, Ellis Gimbel, the founder of the department store, “wanted his toy-land to be the destination of holiday shoppers everywhere. He sent more than 50 store employees dressed in costume to walk in their first Thanksgiving Day parade.”

No balloons in the Gimbel’s parade, but there were floats and Santa. According to “Pilgrims and parades: a brief history of Thanksgiving,” Gimbel’s Santa arrived on the eighth-floor toy department by climbing the ladder of a Philadelphia Fire Department truck.

The Gimbel’s parade is still going on but has since changed hands. But the Macy’s parade continues. It is also the “world’s largest parade,” says CBS New York.

It isn’t surprising to learn that the reason for the Thanksgiving Day parade actually hasn’t much to do with Thanksgiving. After all, they were designed and created by department stores. The Thanksgiving Day parade is actually all about the next big holiday.

In the beginning, according to, “It was called ‘Macy’s Christmas Parade.” Whatever the title, the now, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade continues to be a prelude to Christmas. Just as it is today, along with the Black Friday sales that begin on Thursday evening and continue through the season. And let’s not forget that in 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date of Thanksgiving for retailers so the shopping season would be extended.

But back in 1924 Macy’s was doing so well that they decided to expand. The expansion of the store covered the entire city block from Broadway to Seventh Avenue along 34th street.

“To showcase the opening of the “World’s Largest Store” and its 1 million square feet of retail space at the start of the busy holiday shopping season, Macy’s decided to throw New York a parade on Thanksgiving morning. In spite of its timing, the parade was not actually about Thanksgiving at all but the next major holiday on the calendar—Christmas. Macy’s hoped its “Christmas Parade” would whet the appetites of consumers for a holiday shopping feast,” according to

In the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade the employees of Macy’s, dressed in vibrant costumes, marched to the flagship store on 34th Street. The parade also consisted of floats, professional bands, and live animals from the Central Park Zoo.

At the end of the parade, in those days as well as today, Santa Claus was welcomed into Herald Square. Today Santa arrives in a sleigh pulled by his reindeer. But Wikipedia notes that “At this first parade, Santa was enthroned on the Macy’s balcony at the 34th Street store entrance, where he was then crowned ‘King of Kiddies.”

This first parade was a success with 250,000 people attending. In an advertisement in a newspaper the following day Macy said, “We did not dare dream its success would be so great,” said. They decided immediately to make it an annual event.

The balloons are an integral part of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. In the late 1920s, Anthony “Tony” Frederick Sarg, a marionettist, was hired by Macy’s to “design a window display of a parade for the store,” says Wikipedia. Sarg designed large animal shaped balloons and had them produced by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. These balloons replaced the live animals in 1927.

The balloons were released into the air at the end of the 1928 parade, but quite unexpectedly they burst. The following year they attempted to fix the bursting issue with a redesign. Safety valves were installed which allowed them to float for days. Return addresses were sewn into the balloons so that whoever found them and returned the discarded balloon to Macy’s would receive a gift.

The parade continued to grow, reaching crowds of over one million lining the streets in the 1930s. It has been held almost every consecutive year following with one small exception. From 1942 to 1944 the parade was suspended because of WWII.  The need for rubber and helium for the war effort was great and couldn’t be used for the parade.

Then in 1945 the parade resumed and traveled along its previous route. On a side note, that same route was used until 2008.

The 1947 film, “Miracle on 34th Street” catapulted the parade into nationwide recognition. The next year, in 1948, it was broadcast nationally on CBS for the first time. In 1952 broadcasting of the parade changed to NBC. In years prior to 1948, the parade had only been broadcast on local stations. The first local TV broadcast of the parade was in 1939, according to Wikipedia.

The balloons used in the parade have been made by Raven Industries of Sioux Falls, South Dakota since 1984.

The first balloon that appeared was in 1931 and was Felix the Cat. Then in 1934 was the first balloon based on a living person appeared. It was a likeness of Eddie Cantor.

For whatever reason, the parade that was created all those years ago, in turn, created family traditions. Gathering around to watch the fantastical floats, the marvelous marching bands from schools across the country, the melodious music acts, and the brilliant balloons, is a ritual for many Americans on Thanksgiving morning.



 From the Department of Public Health and Human Services:


November 8, 2018 - The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) has announced that donation boxes have been set up at various locations to receive holiday gifts that benefit Montana State Hospital (MSH) patients.


The effort is part of the annual Gifts With A Lift program that has played an instrumental role in spreading holiday cheer to patients for the past 66 years. The program ensures that all state hospital patients have a gift under the Christmas tree.


MSH Gifts With A Lift coordinator Beth Eastman said the program is very important to patients. “This program means the world to MSH patients, and helps brighten their day,” she said. “And, it’s been successful due to the amazing generosity of Montana residents, who are always there to help out their fellow citizens.”


The program is jointly coordinated by the National Alliance for Mental Illness-MT and DPHHS.


Ideas for gift suggestions include, but are not limited to the following: Pocket games/books, socks, T-Shirts/sweatshirts, cards, winter hats/adult winter gloves, magazines, fanny packs, phone cards, jackets, craft kits, batteries, slippers, blankets/ throws, headphones, handheld AM/FM radios, postage stamps and stationery. MSH is especially in need of winter coats for men and women in sizes L - 3X.


Individuals or service organizations interested in ‘adopting’ a patient are encouraged to contact Eastman at 406-693-7145.


Gifts mailed to the hospital should not be wrapped; however, donations of wrapping paper and gift boxes are welcome. “Please include a name and address in the package and a return receipt so we may acknowledge the arrival of your gifts,” Eastman said.


Gifts or cash donations can be mailed to Gifts With A Lift, c/o Beth Eastman, PO Box 300, Montana State Hospital, Warm Springs, MT 59756. In order to arrive in time for the holidays, gifts should be dropped off or mailed by December 15. Make checks payable to: Gifts With A Lift.


MSH is the only publicly operated inpatient psychiatric hospital in the state. It provides treatment to adults who have serious mental illnesses and who are referred from hospitals, mental health programs, and district courts from across the state.


Gifts can also be dropped off at any of the following locations:


Rainbow House
925 North 18th
Billings, MT 59101


Silver House
106 West Broadway
Butte, MT 59701


555 Fuller, Suite 3
Helena, MT 59601


New Directions
621 1st Ave. South
Great Falls, MT 59401


Center for Mental Health
900 North Jackson
Helena, MT 59601


Addictive and Mental Disorders Division-DPHHS
100 N. Park Ave., Ste. 300
Helena, MT  59601


Adult Services
1315 Wyoming
Missoula, MT 59801


Montana State Hospital
PO Box 300
Warm Springs, MT 59756


Bozeman Daily Chronicle
2820 W. College St.
Bozeman, MT  59771


Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Courthouse
MSU Extension Office, Third Floor
800 Main St.
Anaconda, MT  59711