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?
Democrat Rolf Harmsen did not provide responses.
Albert D. Olszewski
Political Party: Republican
Family: Married to Nancee for 29 years with five children
Occupation: Orthopedic surgeon; partner in Flathead Orthopedics for 19 years
Education: University of Washington Medical School, Seattle – 1988; Carroll College, Helena – 1984; C. M. Russell High School, Great Falls – 1980
Political Experience: Representative House District 11 (2015 – present); candidate for GOP Lieutenant Governor in 2012
1. Montana deserves safe and dependable infrastructure that is proactively maintained. Last legislative session, I supported the Republican-led legislation that provided $93 million for true infrastructure development and maintenance across the entire state. I will continue to support the long-range planning and funding of true infrastructure that provides safe drinking water, adequate sewer systems, and modern routes of transportation for all Montanans.
2. It is my role as a legislator to prevent the state and its bureaucracies from overburdening the fossil fuel and mineral extraction industries with unnecessary regulations and unfair favoritism to its competitors. It is the government’s role to ensure that all industries are great stewards of Montana’s environment and resources. It is not the government’s role to determine winners and losers in any business or industry.
3. Montana is constitutionally required to maintain a balanced budget. I will continue to be fiscally responsible as I vote for or against upcoming legislation. It is my opinion that the ending fund balance needs to be considerably less than the $400 million maintained previously.
4. Montana deserves local control of its lands and resources. It is difficult for the federal government to efficiently manage its lands from Washington, D.C. In July 2016, the OIG published its audit of the U.S. Forest Service’s management involving Wild Lands Fires Activity Hazardous Fuels Reduction Program. The OIG’s findings support the idea that the federal government needs assistance in effectively managing the lands under its jurisdiction. Montana has proven it can manage its state lands. I believe our state can and should assist the federal government in managing federal lands within Montana.
5. Montana’s child protection system is in serious crisis. In less than a decade, the number of children in Montana that are abused and/or neglected has more than doubled. Our frontline child protection workers and their support staff are overwhelmed by the tremendous demands placed on their limited resources. With a sense of urgency, adequate resources and manpower must be made available to modernize and stabilize our child protective system. As a member of the 2017 Legislature, I will champion this issue and make child protection our number one priority.
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