On Feb. 5, Rep. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, presented a bill before the State Administration Committee that, if passed into law, would answer a question as old as the Gregorian calendar: What do you do when a holiday falls on a Saturday?
House Bill 325 says observe it on Friday.
What's interesting about HB 325 is that it basically does nothing. It's already in Montana statute that when a holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is a holiday. The statute does not address what Regier referred to during the committee hearing as the "Saturday situation," and he added that HB 325 would only create a law most Montanans believe already exists. "Schools, hospitals, banks, many businesses observe a holiday on Friday or Monday when they land on a weekend, so this is common, accepted practice in our society," he told the committee during his 74-second testimony. "HB 325 would put into law what people expect."
Any bill that requires so little explanation and so concise a rationale deserves a moment of recognition. Particularly when it comes from the mouth of Regier, who has made a name for himself as a master of the rhetorical arts. In 2011, Regier introduced a bill that would add offenses resulting in the death of unborn children to state homicide statutes. Though Regier maintained it wouldn't affect legal abortions, opponents saw it as a sneak attack on reproductive rights. On the House Floor, Regier eloquently assuaged their concerns by comparing pregnant women to construction sites and cattle. "If unfinished buildings and unborn calves have value in Montana," he said, "shouldn't unborn children have a value?"
Luckily, HB 325 requires Regier to do no such analogizing. The bill is the sort of unsexy minutiae legislators deal with on their way to the water fountain. Compared to stripping the state budget of family planning funds, making it easier to bring guns to school or impeding on women's reproductive rights, resolving the "Saturday situation" doesn't register on the Richter scale of legislative activity. Which is just another way of saying HB 325 benefits, albeit trivially, everyone. Depressing as this is to admit, perhaps Regier's bill is the best we can expect this session.