The 2011 Legislature may be over, but a bunch of bills await action. Gov. Brian Schweitzer took care of one of them Saturday when he signed a bill creating a statewide “24-7″ program to fight drunken driving. Matt Gouras of the Associated Press has this one:
The program requires repeat DUI offenders to take a breath test twice a day, every day, at their own expense from the time of arrest until their sentence is completed.
Supporters argued it has proven successful in keeping repeat offenders sober during a pilot project, and costs taxpayers nothing since the offenders pay for the tests.
A few opponents, including one lawmaker and bar owner, unsuccessfully tried to argue that the full slate of DUI crackdowns was bad for business in small towns.
For the most part, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle backed the 24/7 initiative.
It came after lawmakers took a long look at enhanced penalties in the wake of the state’s annual ranking at or near the top of per-capita drunken driving deaths, and focus on a drunken-driving culture many argued had been left alone for far too long.
Meanwhile, even though Schweitzer has said he’ll sign a bill instituting sweeping reforms of the 2004 medical law, which was enacted by voters, advocates for the original law are not giving up. The Missoulian’s Capitol Bureau chief, Charles S. Johnson, is following developments:
The new Montana Cannabis Industry Association is raising money to hire a top Montana lawyer, James Goetz of Bozeman, to file a lawsuit challenging the medical marijuana bill soon to become law.
Goetz is a prominent attorney who has won cases before both the U.S. and Montana supreme courts. In the early 1980s, he was the lead attorney on cases that established the rights of recreationists to have access to Montana’s streams. In 1989, he was the lead lawyer in the lawsuit that overturned Montana’s school-funding law.
“I’ve not been hired as of yet,” Goetz said Thursday. “I’ve been contacted and am looking at the issues. It’s obvious to me that the law’s a real mess.”
The Missoula-based association was touting the future hiring of Goetz on its website as it seeks donations.
“He’s a ‘big gun,’ ” the website said. “When Montanans see his name, they’ll know we are serious and we are hiring the best. MCIA talked to more than a dozen lawyers, and Goetz was the name, over and over. Even attorneys who wanted the job themselves said Goetz was the man.”
Finally, an ironic twist in the long-running saga of medical marijuana entrepreneur Jason Christ:
Jason Christ, the face of the explosive growth of the medical marijuana business in Montana, can no longer legally smoke the cannabis he so aggressively promoted.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has yet to renew his medical marijuana card, which expired April 17.
Christ has sued.
Christ smokes medical marijuana to control the pain of Crohn’s disease, according to the complaint he filed this week in Missoula County District Court. Without his marijuana, his “pain levels have risen significantly,” he wrote in the suit, one of several he’s filed in District Court. He’s seeking $7,000 from DPHHS.
Clicking on that same link will also tell you that Christ is suing Alltel, which he claims cut off his service for “over-complaining.”
There you have it.