Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - While the Montana State Legislature takes a breather during what is called ‘Transmittal Week’, Montana House District 94’s Tom France stopped by the KGVO Talk Back studio to provide an update from his perspective as a minority Democrat.

HD 94's Tom France was Happy for Bipartisan Support over State Courts

One of the topics discussed was how a bipartisan group of legislators was able to agree on one important topic, the State Supreme Court.

“The Republican Party has got plenty of diversity in it, and there are different views on any number of different issues. And so the Democrats have aligned with Republicans on some very important bills,” began France. “Those are certainly highlights of the first half of the session.

France further explained why the courts should remain non-partisan races.

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France said Republicans wanted to Make Judicial Races Partisan

“The most far right wing of the Republicans feel that the Montana Supreme Court has been wrong on a couple of key issues, primarily abortion and the right of women to make choices about their own reproduction,” began France. “In some ways, the assault on the courts is all about putting Republican conservative Republican judges in who will overturn long established precedent in Montana that provides reproductive freedom to women.”

France detailed two bills that would help keep the State Supreme Court and other judges out of the partisan rhetoric and not have to toe any single party line.

“Well, I think maybe the biggest two were bills that would have made our judicial system partisan would have either allowed or required candidates for district and district judge in the Supreme Court to run as Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “Of course, Montana's judicial system has been nonpartisan for 130 years and the courts have served us well and the Republican initiative to make the courts another partisan body, I think is very ill conceived. I was delighted that we were able to find a working coalition with about 20 Republicans and defeat the two bills that would have made our judges run as Republicans and Democrats.”

France was Disappointed that the Governor Redirected Marijuana Tax Monies

France was deeply disappointed that one of the tenets of legalizing recreation marijuana, where a good portion of the proceeds of sales taxes would go towards conservation, was thrown out by the Gianforte administration.

“I think one of the big battles of this legislative session is two years ago Montana voters approved legalizing marijuana and along with that they established priorities for how marijuana tax revenue should be used,” he said. “A significant portion of our marijuana tax the voters said should go to conservation. They should go to long term investments in our natural resources, but Governor Gianforte has zeroed out that provision, and wants to really provide no funding to conservation through the marijuana tax.”

The legislature will return for the second half of the 90 day session on Monday, March 13.

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