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?
Residence: Martin City
Political Party: Blue Dog Democrat
Family: Mother Janine, sister Heidi, brother-in-law Drew, niece Ember
Occupation: Liquor store clerk and delivery driver, substitute teacher
Education: 1996 Columbia Falls High School graduate, 2001 Notre Dame graduate, B.A. Government & International Relations
Political Experience: Served in the 2015 Montana Legislative Session on Judiciary, Agriculture, Federal Relations & Telecommunications Committees; the State-Tribal Relations Interim Committee; and the Council on River Governance Committee
1. Infrastructure improvements need to be a top priority for the 2017 Legislative Session. Passing a significant infrastructure bill will take serious commitment and compromise by both sides. We are out of time regarding this issue and cannot allow partisan pettiness to interfere and derail attempts to address immediate state infrastructure needs.
2. There is a demand for clean and renewable energy, but I also believe that the responsible extraction of coal, oil and gas will continue to be a vital part of our energy portfolio now and in the future. I believe the market for these resources will bounce back. These industries provide quality jobs and fund many programs we value as a state. We need to stand in support of our workers in these industries.
3. As legislators, we have a Constitutional obligation to pass a balanced budget in Montana. I take this obligation very seriously and will work with other legislators to ensure that this obligation is met. As a state, we need to handle our checkbook in the same manner as hardworking Montanans by setting priorities and cutting back spending when things get tight.
4. We need to demand better federal land management policies. As a state, the value of our input must outweigh that coming from Washington, D.C. A push to take over management control of large amounts of federal land is risky with potential costs that could devastate our budget and burden the Montana taxpayer. Management is not cheap, especially during a bad fire season. This land belongs to the people of the United States, and we need to fight to ensure that ownership is not undermined.
5. The most urgent problem facing HD 3 is job creation and preservation. Our community has been hit hard by the Weyerhaeuser mill closures. We need to do everything we can to keep our wood products industry intact and create an environment where manufacturing and value-added timber businesses can set up shop and thrive. As a state, it is critical that we come out of the 2017 Legislative Session with funding for infrastructure. As legislators, we need to sideline our egos and work together to make this happen. Mental health needs to become a top priority for Montana. Our suicide rates are the highest in the nation, and too many people suffer unnecessarily every day. It is time to address this issue head-on through education, health care access, awareness, and prevention.
Political Party: Republican
Education: B.A. International Relations from Liberty University
Political Experience: Senate Legislative Assistant (2015 Legislative Session), Steve Daines/MT GOP regional director (2013-2014)
1. Yes. There are major concerns and we need new infrastructure developments immediately, especially in our tourist and natural resource areas. I would like to see the emphasis on road/highway and bridge repairs and enhancements.
2. Firstly, I would like to see the state push back against the feds as it relates to the eroding of our timber, coal and petroleum industries. We should refuse to implement federal mandates such as the Clean Air Act. As well, we should start suing the federal government for overstepping its bounds on acts such as the Equal Access to Justice Act that are being used to harm our working families and assist radical environmentalist groups with locking our loggers out of the woods. Additionally, the state can start making some regulatory reforms to help assist our truckers, who transport many of these products, and guarantee access to resource development to companies on our state lands.
3. We’re going to need to simultaneously make cuts where we’re spending money unnecessarily and encourage more manufacturing and natural resource development to help guarantee more longer-term and steady sources of revenue.
4. Yes. Absolutely. This is the only major solution to help our loggers. Weyerhaeuser closed the Columbia Falls plant due to lack of access, and it is the feds keeping our loggers out of the woods. We need to start a gradual plan of transition to where the state of Montana starts to manage and control the land in a gradual manner to allow our economy and institutions time to comfortably adapt to the changes.
5. There are two issues facing the 2017 Montana Legislature. First is the issue of how to help our working families and deal with the issue of job loss as it relates to declining wages. Though Montana’s unemployment remains low, our job losses over the last 10 years in the natural resource and manufacturing fields are staggering, and we need to address the reality that many Montana communities are struggling without their timber mills and manufacturing plants. We need to get the government out of the way and start implementing policies that will get our working families’ wages back up so they can have access to the American Dream. Second is the question of refugee settlement. The Democrats claim Montana does not have a right to determine whether or not we can accept refugees into our state. I say we have a choice and the choice should be no. There is no proper way to screen refugees who may be potential jihadist terrorists, and that poses a direct threat to our community. We do not need the social unrest of Europe coming to Montana, and that does not even tackle the question of cost. We do not even have enough money to take care of our veterans let alone thousands of non-citizens.
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