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Montgomery alienates conservatives with recent vote record

Current state Rep. Billy Montgomery has all but shouted from the rooftops that he wants to run for state Senate District 37 in 2007, given his term-limited status of his current position (as is the current Sen. Max Malone). Speculation is that Montgomery would switch registration to the Republican Party in pursuit of the position.

Yet if that’s Montgomery’s intent, or even if he doesn’t do that but wants to appear more conservative to voters in that, perhaps in the entire state, most conservative district, he is picking a questionable strategy in regards to his committee votes. In the last seven months, on pieces of legislation both symbolic and substantive, he has cast votes that either will anger conservatives, or has avoided them altogether that allowed legislation objectionable to conservatives to go forward. Some examples:

  • In the 2005 First Extraordinary Session, with Montgomery’s help HB 59, which allowed some people without positive identification to vote in upcoming elections, squeaked out of the House and Governmental Affairs Committee 5-4.
  • Later, during floor debate Montgomery argued a vote for the bill in committee did not mean being in favor of fraud, he opposed an amendment that passed that further tightened ballot security, but then helped the defeat the bill.
  • A short while later, his was the decisive vote in House and Governmental Affairs for HB 14 which would have set up the wasteful satellite voting centers.
  • A couple of days later on the floor, Montgomery wobbled back, offering an amendment to HB 14 which effectively did what he had opposed three months earlier, which passed even as the bill foundered.
  • A day later, its companion SB 22 hit the committee and got out on a party-line vote of Democrats 5-4 – except for the absent Montgomery. That was the one that made it into law; Montgomery could have stopped it there by being present with a “no” vote.
  • This session, HB 641 extended and expanded satellite voting provisions. It passed the committee 5-4, with Montgomery absent; again, Montgomery could have stopped it by being present with a “no” vote.
    HB 428 would have amended to constitution to provide term-limits to all state executive elected officials. Montgomery sided with opponents 5-5 to stop it.
  • He also cast the crucial committee vote for HB 927 which would have Louisiana potentially commit to supporting in the Electoral College the national popular vote winner rather than the selection of the people of Louisiana.

    Even when Montgomery got it right he managed to fudge. On HB 562 this session, which would give the people a veto power of legislators’ salary increases, he moved in committee for its adoption, but expressed reservations about whether it would be better as a statute rather than in its proposed form of a constitutional amendment (and he voted for it obviously, even as it failed). However, that would gut the entire purpose of the bill; legislators already increase their salaries by majorities, so it would be no trouble for them at all first to repeal the law and then vote the increase which could still bypass the people.

    In most of these instances he joined a majority of, if not achieving unanimous support of, all Democrats in his vote (which is reflected in his being tied for second-most liberal/populist member of the House in 2005 according to the Louisiana Legislature Log). That partisanship also will not endear conservative voters in that district, and would make it seem any party conversion more one of convenience that a genuine expression of his issue preferences and political philosophy.
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