1. Are infrastructure improvements a major concern for Montana and, if so, what would you do to help pass a comprehensive infrastructure package?
2. Montanans rely on extraction-based industries for jobs, even as demand grows for clean and renewable energy in the region. How would you help employees in the coal, oil and natural gas industries maintain their livelihood, or pursue training in other fields in Montana’s changing economic landscape?
3. Given that the Legislative Fiscal Division has projected an ending fund balance that is considerably less than what was anticipated, what would be your budgetary approach heading into the session?
4. Should the state of Montana push to take more control of some federal land management?
5. What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the 2017 Legislature, and how do you propose dealing with it?
Political Party: Republican
Family: Wife: Amy; kiddos: Matthew, 14, Rylee, 10, Annah, 4
Occupation: Home builder
Education: Graduate Montana State University – Bachelor of Science Construction Engineering
Political Experience: Currently serving as Representative for House District 6 (2013 and 2015 sessions)
1. Montana needs infrastructure. We have needs, and then there are wants and pet projects. We should fund our needs before addressing our wants. For the last two legislative sessions, Governor Bullock has vetoed the infrastructure bills that have the needed projects. And last session, the governor was determined to include his pet projects, and because he would not compromise, that bill failed.
2. The best thing that government can do to help our economy is to get out of the way and let the free market drive our growth. Too often bureaucracy is unnecessarily delaying and holding up projects that should go forward. Our state agencies should have a better attitude of, “How do we help you get where you want to go, rather than how many hoops can we make you jump through?” Competition will drive innovation; government regulation only artificially directs the course and often inflates costs.
3. Last session, I was the Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Natural Resources and Transportation. These areas will be particularly hard hit, as many of them are funded by special revenue accounts from natural resources. After many years of state government growing, this session will be a correction, a belt-tightening exercise. This will be tough, but it will be good for our state.
4. I think we should be exploring the opportunities here. I don’t believe any of the land should be sold (there was a bill last session, which I voted for, that said we wouldn’t sell those lands, but it failed to pass). I do believe that the state of Montana can do a better job of managing our lands than the federal government can. This will lead to increased economic benefit, healthier forests and reduced fire potential, all through better management and getting away from frivolous environmental lawsuits. If we were to move forward with assuming control of some federal lands, we would need to do so with a fiscally responsible plan and assurance that those lands would stay public.
5. I’m going to turn your question a little bit and say that the most pressing issue facing our state and our nation is the breakdown of our families. Fathers who are not active in the lives of children are destroying the fabric of our culture. It is hard enough to grow up, but without a father it is much harder (not impossible, but harder). God bless the single mothers — I don’t know how they do it. And it doesn’t apply to every situation, but for the most part, studies show less drug use, lower dropout rates, better work ethic and even lower incarceration rates, when there are two parents active in the family. I will do whatever I can to strengthen Montana families, because I’m pro-family, pro-life, pro-gun, pro-business and pro-Montana. I would appreciate your vote in the upcoming election.
Residence: Flathead County
Political Party: Libertarian
Family: Parents: Dennis and Kimberly Wheeler; brothers: James and Christopher Wheeler
Occupation: Student at the University of Montana
Political Experience: I have interned for a congressional campaign, and am currently volunteering for Montana for Gary Johnson
1. Since tourism is such an important industry in Montana, the state of our infrastructure is immeasurably important. I would support legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana and taxing it in order to use the tax revenue to fund infrastructure improvements and education.
2. If the government stays out of industry and allows the free market to work, there will be a natural transition to renewable energy sources brought about by increasing demand from rational-thinking consumers. One way to ensure job creation in renewable energy sources would be to cut regulation on logging so that more fuel can be created for biomass boilers, an efficient way of heating and providing energy that is cost effective and can stimulate the local economy. The government should also be concerned with funding education necessary in a new economy centered on renewable energy.
3. I think that every time an issue of funding is presented, responsible legislators should ask themselves one question: Should the government be concerning itself with this particular policy? This would be a great way to cut down on wasteful spending by the government.
4. Yes, there is already a wealth of knowledge in our own state on effective management techniques, dating back to the early burning practices of the indigenous peoples. Federal land management policy for over a century has included fire suppression, which has worsened conditions for forest fires, and regulation that has led to the recent closing of two lumber mills in our valley, which has been a historically important industry. The problem is not a lack of trees — we in fact have more tree cover currently then we have since before people first migrated to the Americas across the land bridge millennia ago. The problem is federal regulation in response to lobbyists. Outside interest should not dictate policy options in Montana. The state needs to take back power from the federal government in order to uphold every Montana citizen’s right to a clean and healthful environment.
5. Education is the most important issue facing our state Legislature this session. National standards are not helping the average student in Montana. We need to put innovation and creativity back in the education system in an attempt to mold a generation of students who love to learn. I would propose abandoning Common Core and creating a committee with educators from across the state including all age groups and disciplines to create a curriculum catered towards inspiring ingenuity and instilling our youth with critical thinking skills. My own recommendations would be to implement debate in the classroom early on to teach kids to look at all sides of an argument and think critically, as well as transitioning to more bilingual education. Another important step is to buck the trend of the increasing burden of the cost of higher education shifting from the government to the student and their family. To do this, the state of Montana should increase funding for higher education, including for vocational and tech positions.
Lisa Kate Morrow
Political Party: Independent Democrat or Democratic Independent
Occupation: Co-owner/director/teacher/therapist of Bodies in Harmony Institute of Massage and Therapeutic Studies at the Ol’ Loading Dock, Kalispell
Political Experience: Activist for change — March against Monsanto, Organic Uprising, anti TPP, Bernie Sanders grassroots organizer, Citizens for GMO Labeling
Note: Candidate did not answer each question individually, so her answers are not numbered and are instead presented in their entirety.
To answer the questions posed would be impossible until I could see how things work. Do I support tearing into our earth? No. We need green alternatives and educational transitions.
Infrastructure? We need safe roads.
Land? Keep it public and safer by clearing the hazards.
The single most important issue in 2017: eliminating big-money lobbying and politician kickbacks. Exposing dirty money and the politicians that take it. Backing the One law, One bill, One vote. Prime example: TPP. Corporations are not people.
It’s all tied together. If our government representatives do not keep their promises, fire them!
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