Uncommon Ground

Thanks, Flattop

Tester has become the only Montana guy in Washington, D.C. who actually gets things done

By Mike Jopek

A steady rain fell throughout the night. It was the second big rain in just over a week. The last storm dumped an inch and a quarter of water on the farm. This might be more.

We opened the nighttime windows. Cold, smoke-free air pour into the farmhouse. It’s a breath of welcome change from the past days of big wildfire smoke.

It’s been a nutty, hot growing season. The cool, wet air is a welcome beginning to fall chores. Cooler weather is just plain nice as the heavy farm work is just beginning. It’s September.

I saw pictures on social media, during August’s congressional recess, from Sen. Jon Tester working his tractor, getting the harvest into the grain bin. The video looked good, real. What you’d expect from Tester, a people person. Tester has worked the Big Sandy farmland for decades. Yet no matter how the pictures looked, farming is just hard work.

I saw Tester, last spring at the local hospital in Kalispell, as he toured the state talking about his recent bill to lower the price of Medicare medicine. Tester has become the only Montana guy in Washington, D.C. who actually gets things done. Other politicians complain about society yet do little to help locals. Tester delivers on stuff that matters.

There’s lots of federal infrastructure dollars flowing into Montana. It’s fixing water systems, rebuilding roads, bridges and airports. Putting broadband internet into rural areas and paying for property tax rebates. Jon Tester is making D.C. work a little better for Montana.

The Inflation Reduction Act that Tester was promoting earlier at the hospital will lower the high price of medicine, something politicians have been promising to do for the past four decades. No doubt the powerful drug companies will object but local seniors appreciate efforts to negotiate down the price of Medicare medicine.

My mom and in-laws daily take a couple of the lifesaving medicines on the list to be price negotiated, a first for seniors on Medicare. My elders are approaching 90 and medicine has increased their lives.

The cost of some medicine is outrageously expensive to any senior on a fixed income. I’m glad that Montanans like Jon Tester know who they work for. It’s not easy standing up against powerful drug companies and Tester clearly sided with seniors.

It’s time for homeowners to go online and get a state property tax rebate. That cash that Tester delivered to Montana during the pandemic and the Legislature gave to some homeowners as one-time rebates.

The state process seems overly complicated, especially for rural seniors who didn’t grow up with the internet or computers.

The state Legislature could’ve just permanently reduced homeowner property taxes. That would’ve avoided a lot of homeowner stress, stopped tens of thousands of statewide property tax appeals and eliminated a lot of red tape.

Montana seniors will just have to figure out how to apply for money from the state. The state provides internet help, directing users to the necessary numbers and information. Details the state already clearly has in its computers, cause that’s where help directs homeowners to look it up.

Any money Montana wants to give to homeowners is great. I hope you get yours.

Life sure got expensive in Montana over the past few years. Everything from land to rent to gas to tax is now tourist-priced, well out of the reach of local workers. Lots of locals are grateful for the work that people like Tester do to help rural Montanans. Seniors and working people matter.

The morning arrived and I went outside to look at the rain gauge. Another inch plus of water and more coming. It looked like a dull, rainy day. Fantastic, I thought, perfect weather to get some work done.