The Billings Gazette from Billings, Montana on January 19, 1989 · 36
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The Billings Gazette from Billings, Montana · 36

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Billings, Montana
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Thursday, January 19, 1989
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36
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2 E Thursday, January 19, 1989 The Billings Gazette Afoortio draws wei HELENA (AP) Pro-choice advocates Wednesday Wasted a bill requiring parental notification before a minor could have an abortion. - The Legislative Council attorney who drafted the bill said it might be challenged under the Montana Constitution, adding that state laws could be displaced if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its controversial 1973 ruling on abortion. Senate Bill 164, sponsored by Sen. Tom Rasmussen, R-Helena, says a physician, before performing an abortion on a woman under age 18, must give 48 hours advance notice to both parents of the woman or to her legal guardian. "It really relates to the rights of the parents. Parents should have the right to know if their minor daughter is going to have a major surgical procedure such as this," Rasmussen, who opposes abortion, said in an interview. The bill says any physician failing to comply with the notification requirement would be guilty of a felony. SB164 provides what is termed a "judicial bypass," under which a minor could demonstrate to the Youth Parents should have the right to know if their minor daughter is going to have a major surgical procedure such as this. Sen. Tom Rasmussen bill sponsor Court that she is mature enough to make her own decision or that an abortion is in her best interest The court could then waive the notification requirement Such a provision has been held in federal court rulings elsewhere to be a critical factor in what constitutes an acceptable abortion notification law, according to Eddye McClure, a lawyer for the Legislative Council who drafted the Rasmussen bilL Rasmussen said the provision was intended to cover situations in which "there is a total broken relationship" between the minor and her parents, or in cases involving incest. Thirteen states now have laws requiring parental notification for abortions involving minors, while 19 states have even tougher laws requiring parental consent, according to Rasmussen. Diane Sands, director of Montanans for Choice, said SB164 "creates the false impression that family communication can be legislated." Minors who currently have the legal right to consent to all aspects of their health care would under the Rasmussen bill be subjected to privacy violations that restrict reproductive choice, Sands said in a news release. "It is interesting that this type of legislation is never introduced by human service professionals who deal with teenagers, but by those who would seek to limit all abortion and a woman's right to choose when and if to have a child," said Sen. Pat Regan, D-Billings, in a statement re leased by the Montana Women's Lobby. "All females, regardless of age, enjoy the right of pri vacy under Montana's Constitution," Regan said. "Government interference in this very personal and private choice should not be a part of public policy." McClure, who researched abortion notification laws at Rasmussen's request, raised the privacy issue in a memo to the lawmaker last fall. Courts in other states have upheld laws requiring parental notification, but in Montana such a law could be challenged because of the unusually strong right-to-privacy guarantee in the state Constitution, McClure said. She also noted that the state Constitution permits the fundamental rights of minors to be enhanced, but not lim ited. "A parental notification statute, if enacted, may arguably be challenged as limiting a minor's rights," her memo said. ; McClure on Wednesday said that in drafting the Rasmussen bill she saw no way to circumvent those potential constitutional problems. Pages get close look at Legislature By TAD BROOKS Gazette Helena Bureau HELENA - It's mostly a matter of hurry up and wait for the young men and women who work as pages for Montana's 51st Legislature. But when the gavel bangs and the House and Senate convene, things get hopping quick. "I run all over the place," said Senate page Todd Johnson, a 17-year-old junior at Helena's Capital High School "I zip." Running errands, passing messages, copying bills, fetching coffee or pop the job is anything and everything when a page is paged. Johnson is one of 16 young Montanans who served at legislators' beck and call for five days recently. A new crop of 16 eight for the House and eight for the Senate starts work every Monday after a tour of the Capitol. And by the time the session is finished, about 130 youths from across the state will have worked to help keep the wheels of government turning. "I had no idea that there's all this paper and all these people behind every senator,"said Johnson, who was sponsored by Sen. Joseph Mazurek, D-Helena. "You learn a lot of stuff about how all the law works," added House page Jim Lewis, 17, a Capital High junior sponsored by Rep. Ed Grady, R-Canyon Creek. And besides getting a hands-on look at government in action, pages earn $3.50 an hour and get a week off from school "But you have to make up all your homework and everything," noted Lewis. The page system in the United States evolved from English parlimentary procedures, and in the early days of Montana's statehood, all pages were male and required to wear blazers festooned with the state seal But while things are a bit more relaxed for pages today, there's still a dress code and protocol to be followed. Protocol includes not letting lobbyists sneak a peek at the message you're carrying, or wearing a mini skirt, or chewing gum on the House and Senate floors. "You have to look professional and act accordingly," said Sue Akey, the Senate's assistant !- -;.;"; '-' , till :h rf JjfT - Vg!V L. : Qazetle Helena Bureau photo Legislative pages await calls for legislators in the House chambers in Helena. sergeant-at-arms and page supervisor. "We expect them to be a credit to their sponsoring senator," added Senate Business Manager Ralph Erving. Each senator and representative is permitted to sponsor two pages during the session. Committees review and approve applications from other would-be pages to fill out the quota. Ackey said most schools are eager to allow students time off to work as pages, and the pages say the experience is invaluable. Some prominent politicians got their start by racing through the Capitol's corridors as pages in their youth. Ed Smith, Montana's Clerk of the Supreme Court, for example. "That's what started my interest in politics and government" said Smith, a Senate page in the 1969 session who later became Clerk of the House. Smith said there was a lot more decorum in the Legislature then, and that House pages had to wear blue sweaters, while Senate pages wore gold. "They were ugly yellow," recalled Blake Wordal, a Helena city commissioner who worked as a Senate page alongside Smith. While Smith and Wordal worked the '69 session for longer than a week, they said a page's work hasnt changed substantially since thea Supervisors said most pages are self-conscious and nervous when they start, sitting at the front of the House and Senate in the eye of television cameras and prominent politicians. Johnson; forexample, was concerned that he might spill coffee on somebody. Joni Kovacich, a 16-year-old House page from Anaconda, was worried about getting tost among rooms in the Capitol's maze-like basement But most pages overcome their nervousness, despite some ribbing by legislators. A favorite joke legislators play on pages is to ask them to fetch a "bill stretcher," a fictitious device , presumably used to make bills longer. Rep. Bud Campbell, R-Deerlodge, used the joke recently, and the page went off dutifully on a wild goose chase. But the joke was on Campbell when pages retaliated by manufacturing a "bill stretcher" device from pencils and paper, and mounted it on the House wall Legislators sometimes ask pages to page Wilbur Sanders, the famous vigilante, U.S. Seantor and founder of Montana's Historical Society. Sanders, of course, is deceased, but gullible pages invariably find a statue of him standing outside the Capitol's rear entrance. Similarly, legislators send pages in search of Gen. Thomas Meagher, whose sword-brandishing likeness rides horseback in a statue on the Capitol's front lawn. Jeannette Rankin, the first woman ever elected to Congress, also is sometimes the target of a page's quest Her statue stands on a stairwell landing. But the kidding is all in fun. "You have to have a sense of humor around here," said Senate Business Manager Erving. Pages said they are treated well by legislators, and come to learn that their job is important "Without copies of bills, (legislators) really wouldn't know what was going on," said Lewis. A page's job comes with a few bonuses, too. Legislators tip pages for running errands Sen. Bill YellowtaiL D-Wyola, once tipped Johnson $1 for fetching him orange juice and pages get to see movies for free at Esseness Theaters during the week they work. And when the week's job is done, pages have a chance to have their picture taken with Gov. Stan Stephens before returning to school. House endorses ill on death for child-sex killers HELENA (AP) - Despite impassioned pleas by opponents of capital punishment the Montana House endorsed a bill Wednesday that would extend the death penalty to cases of child sexual abuse where the victim is killed. The measure prompted some of the most emotional floor debate of the 1989 Legislature before it received preliminary approval 77-20. All those voting against the bill were Democrats. Their cause was led by Rep. Vivian Brooke, D-Missoula, who said House Bill 27 "strengthens the death penalty in Montana, but ... strengthening the death penalty does little more than strengthen our approval of killing." Rep. Dorothy Cody, D-Wolf Point said her bill was prompted by the August 1987 death of 8-year-old Ryan Van Luchen of Libby, who was sexually molested and killed. Robert Hornback is serving a prison term for the death. Cody said adding such a crime to the list of offenses that can warrant the death penalty is necessary for the protection of children. "If this option of the death penalty in these circumstances will prevent one child from such a heinous death, then how can we say it shouldn't be considered?" she asked other House members. "I pray that if this is passed that it will never be used," she said, "because that will mean another child is dead." Republican Rep. John Mercer, a Poison attorney, noted the state already allows the death penalty in such cases as the death of kidnapping victims or death by torture. Defeating this bill he said, suggests that the Legislature considers the rape and murder of a child a lesser offense. Passage of the measure does not guarantee that the death penalty will be applied, but only makes it an option for judges, Mercer said. Still "someone who commits a crime such as this, that is what they deserve," he said. "I have trouble when you talk about us causing the death of a human being," said House Majority Leader Hal Harper, D-Helena. Someone who would sodomize and kill a child may be more animal than human being, he said. a- I pray that if this is passed that it will never be used. Rep. Dorothy Cody bill sponsor 99 Rep. Janet Moore, D-Condon, said execution is a proper punishment because taxpayers resent footing the bill for criminals sentenced to life terms. Brooke, in a voice trembling with emotion, led the opposition. She said she realizes that the bill is a popular reaction to a horrible crime, but said that is no justification for approving the intentional taking of life. "This killing will only serve to give license to more killing and more violence," Brooke said. "I believe that the deliberate act by which society takes a human life in the name of law and order is a heinous perversion of justice. I will not participate in this right to kilL "I ask you today not to sacrifice your enlightened judgment to the opinion of the majority," she said. Rep. Kelly Addy, D-Billings, called HB27 "the first opportunity to kill someone this session." "Don't content yourself with the belief that you're not the ones wholl pull the trapdoor," he said. "You are participating in the death of another human being." Addy dismissed the argument that capital punishment protects society, saying life imprisonment without parole would provide the desired security. Democratic Rep. Angela Russell of Lodge Grass, a member of the Crow Tribe, said those who kill need not be punished with death. Indians, she said, believe that such people are punished in the next life by never reaching the "happy hunting ground." The House in other action passed 85-10 and sent to the Senate a bill giving the Revenue Department two extra years to finish its reappraisal of property statewide. Vo-tech look to bridge money gap l.'.M.'Hi'rAIHrfn- By BILL WILKE Gazette Helena Bureau HELENA The state's five vocational technical centers need some answers and some money if the state is not to lose a valuable economic development tool, vo-tech officials told lawmakers Wednesday. The five vo-techs were lifted from local school district control and placed in the state's higher education system the last time lawmakers met But the transition has not been a simple one, Commissioner of Higher Education Carrol Krause told the House Appropriations Subcomittee on Education. "We are in fact creating a whole new environment in which the vo-techs operate," he said. "The schools were providing much more resource than I realized." The move left open the question of where the money will come from to replace what came from local school districts in both money and support help. It also raised questions on how new labor agreements for vo-tech employees will be negotiated and implemented under the state payroll system, Krause said. Vo-tech teachers have continued to work for local school districts, but will be switched over to the Board of Regents in July of this year. The Board of Regents have purchased vo-tech buildings in Missoula and Helena, Krause said, but need to pay off bonds in Butte, Billings and Great Falls. Krause added that budget recommendations from former Gov. Ted Schwinden and the Legislative Fiscal Analyst fail to provide the funds needed to complete the transition. The Board of Regents have endorsed a 2-mill statewide funding to replace local taxpayer revenue under the old system. They have also recommended a formalized network of two-year institutions, including the vo-techs and community colleges, and a working relationship between the vo-techs and units of the University System. Adding to vo-tech headaches, Krause said, is the misuse of federal vocational education funds set aside for new and innovative programs. He said much of the $4.1 million has been used for operating expenses and the schools could stand to lose the money. Helena Vo-tech Director Alex Capdeville said the LFA budget proposal would leave this school $540,000 short next year of maintaining its $2.4 million budget He said maintenance services provided by the Helena School District will have to replaced and the school is threatened with the loss of accreditation because it lacks general education courses. Case on TV: An NBC television crew will visit Eastern Montana to film a segment for the show "Unsolved Mysteries," on the 1986 murder of a Wisconsin man whose burning car was found west of Glendive, Dawson County Sheriff James George says. George says the show's producer, Richard Ross, contacted him about the case of Dexter Stefonek, who was shot to death. The Rhinelander, Wis., man was traveling across Montana when he disappeared, and his burning car was found at an Interstate 94 rest area about 22 miles west of Glendive. His body was found later in a farmer's dump. Investigators say they believe the fire was set by whoever was responsible for Stefonek's death. George says the NBC crew should be in the area by late January or early February. They want to film during the same weather conditions that were present during the murder, he says. Application approved: State health officials this week approved Kalispell Regional Hospital's application to perform heart catheterizations, which had been available nearby only at Missoula and Spokane, Wash. The diagnostic test involves injecting a dye through a large vein in the groin. Monitoring equipment tracks its journey to the heart, revealing any blockages in the heart and surrounding blood vessels. Hospital administrators said start-up costs will be about $326,000. Most of the necessary equipment is already in place and used for other procedures, they added. Hospital officials anticipate about 180 procedures the first year and up to 330 by the third year. Robbins trial: Lewis and Clark County authorities have asked to postpone the trial of Teresa Robbins, who is accused of conspiring to murder John Roberts, a Vaughn truck driver shot to death last August County Attorney Mike McGrath said because of Tuesday's acquittal of defendant Fredrick Runstrom in the case, he wants time to reevaluate the case against Robbins. Runstrom, 44, of Fort Shaw, and Robbins, 27, of Billings, were two of five people accused in connection with Roberts' death. His body was found in a roadside ditch near Augusta last Aug. 30. Robbins' trial was scheduled to begin Monday. Runstrom was accused of deliberate homicide for being one of two men who allegedly shot Roberts, 31. McGrath said he wants to try Raymond P. Bourne, 39, of Vaughn, before handling Robbins' triaL Bourne's trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 30. New Baucus office: Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont, announced this week that he will open a field office in Kalispell next month. "With an office in Kalispell it will be easier for people to stop by and share their perspectives with my staff, who pass on their ideas to me," said Baucus, who noted that Flathead County is now the fourth-most populated county in Montana. He plans a formal opening for the office in mid-February. Baucus also has offices in Missoula, Helena, Bozeman, Butte, Billings, and Great Falls. Centennial party: Former state agriculture director Keith Kelly was named Wednesday as coordinator of the state's Centennial birthday party activities. Keith Kelly will be paid $2,000 a month, funded by a grant from the state Centennial Commission, said Penny Copps, co-chair of the Capital City '89ers. "This is an opportunity of a lifetime," Kelly said. "I'm not going to be here for the next one (centennial)." Events for the state's 100th birthday party on Nov. 8 include a music and art festival, pancake breakfast re-enactment of state acceptance speeches, a parade and the Centennial Ball "He is affiliated with one of Montana's largest industries, agriculture, and he has an outstanding sense of Montana's history," Copps said of Kelly. Kelly served as state agriculture director under Gov. Ted Schwinden. Sentence: A Kalispell man received a four-year suspended sentence Wednesday for negligent homicide in the drunken driving death of a 17-year-old boy last summer. In sentencing, District Court Judge Peter Rapkoch of Lewistown also ordered Jeffrey Roth, 22, to abstain from using drugs and alcohol and to stay away from places where alcohol is served. He also fined Roth $20 for not wearing a seat belt Roth was the driver in a one-vehicle crash Aug. 28 near Olney that killed passenger Ramoan Conklin. Injured in the crash was 16-year-old Chad Collier, another passenger. Flathead County Attorney Ted Lympus said Roth's car veered across the center line on U.S. Highway 93, rolled once and came to rest on a guardraiL ? i V t

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