Is There a Letter for… Speaker Austin Knudsen?

We expect more out of our legislators than childish political games, especially when those silly games hold up legislation that will affect our lives.

After everyone headed home from the legislative session this year, Austin Knudsen, the Speaker of the House from Culbertson, held up the signing of 260 bills in a game of political payback with Governor Bullock.

Rep. Austin Knudsen

Here’s what happened. At the end of the session, there were 260 bills that had already passed through the Legislature. These bills just needed Knudsen’s final stamp of approval before being sent to the Governor’s office for his signature. Knudsen signed a handful of them and then went home to Culbertson, leaving the rest in limbo.

As a result, Capitol staff had to ship 83 unsigned bills to Culbertson for Knudsen’s signature and then ship them all the way back to Helena.

That sounds like a really bad use of those folks’ time and a major waste of our taxpayer dollars.

Why would he play childish games instead of just getting the job done?

Knudsen actually did say why he did this — although it’s kind of a troubling excuse. He said he was doing it a political payback to Governor Bullock.  It seems lawmakers were angry with Bullock for sending an earlier bill back to the Legislature with amendments that the Speaker didn’t like. That’s right… the only reason for holding up these bills passed by both chambers and signed by Knudsen himself, was political payback.

It’s no surprise to us that Knudsen started to get some criticism for holding up all these bills. But when people started to call him out, he weirdly blamed the U.S. Postal Service, saying,  “The mail takes time,”

It’s been a few years since we saw “Schoolhouse Rock,” but nowhere in the process of a bill becoming a law do we remember the part when a political leader mails the bill to himself and then blames our local postal workers for the delay.

This isn’t the mailman’s fault. No, this one falls on Knudsen.. If He’s going to play political games with bills that affect our lives, he could at least own up to it and not blame others.

One thing’s for sure — it’s a good thing the Postal Service has priority shipping. Maybe they can teach Knudsen how to get his priorities straight.