Buckle up, Buttercup

The people in charge of policy at the state capitol can enact pretty much any law they desire

By Mike Jopek

It’s going to be a wild ride. The people in charge of policy at the state capitol can enact pretty much any law they desire. The majority party won with such large margins that nearly any state policy is on the political table.

A decade ago, I recall, when I sat in those same front row seats of power, there were plenty of bad bills, and surely almost all of them are about to be re-debated in the 67th session of the Montana Legislature.

Local Flathead lawmakers proposed many fiery bills that go after nurses’ unions, repeal three initiatives that citizens previously enacted into law, impede women’s healthcare rights, and attack the rights of young transgender citizens.

Who really knows how much nonsense our new governor will allow to become law. It’s fair to say that the next several years of statewide policy making might feel a bit abrupt as some laws and rules take an abrupt turn.

Aside from that firebrand-style politics that seems common to Flathead lawmakers, there are several practical solutions being proposed to secure garbage onto your rigs as you transport trash across the state, increasing populations thresholds for resort towns, and allow Montana to accept in-kind services for easements onto state land for military buildings.

Somewhere, buried amongst those 3,000 proposals from Montana’s 150 lawmakers from across the state, must be some good ideas to lower homeowner property taxes and help struggling workers and small businesses.

There’s a lot to wade through. It’s really an insider’s game – one has to be in Helena to actually know what’s happening. Even then, if you’re not seated at the decision table, you’re likely featured on the menu. I know what both feel like.

We’ll hear about much of the action from a great team of local journalists who’ll brave the halls of Helena during a pandemic, which has so far killed over 1,000 Montanans statewide and hospitalized thousands more.

Life remains hard in the faraway places of America. Winter hasn’t been too mean. Wish we had more snow. In rural Montana, hardworking people struggle with this selective economy and that killer pandemic that just keeps spiking throughout the nation as we await inoculation to the virus.

The U.S. Congress may not see much of the devastating struggles from within the halls of power. That hardship is plainly imprinted upon the faces of regular working people walking the streets of town, in our schools and restaurants. Hopefully, the 117th Congress will help rural working people during the worst economic crisis of any living person’s lifetime.

Georgia sent change to D.C. Voters chose a pastor from Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta to go to Washington D.C. and lead his state and nation.

On election night, Raphael Warnock said, “My mother who as a teenager growing up in Georgia used to pick somebody’s else’s cotton. But the other day because this is America, 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States Senator.”

Many of us remain optimistic that our new Legislature and Congress will quickly help people and small businesses across our vast and diverse nation. I got into politics decades ago with the simple belief that government can be good, that it can help people, and make all of our lives better.

With much hard work and dedication, the people whom we elected and sent to the halls of power in places like Helena and Washington, D.C. can do right by Montana and America. We may not much like watching what’s going on. But we have hope that the tables and cups across Montana remain full this year. We simply ask you to do right by us.

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