Answers have been edited slightly for taste.

After watching the $1B fraud that was SB311 (Save Colstrip) go through the Senate without a serious challenge, or even a serious question, after watching the Solutions Caucus steer legislation under what appears to be a “pay to play” formula, after watching [NWE’s attempt to use the legislature to bypass the PSC], after watching medical lobbyists steer the legislature to override the voters mandate to not renew Medicaid Expansion and to use Welfare Expansion to fund member hospitals I figured that, since Tom Richmond was central to all of these, someone had to [remove him from that seat]. So I did; you are welcome..

My priorities include stopping utility ratepayer abuse (such as was evident in HB 597, SB 331 “Save Colstrip” and the FCC amendments to HB 22 and HB 597 (signed by Tom Richmond and [Duane] Ankney respectively). My presence there will preclude [things] like this from even being considered or dropped in by NWE acolytes; my function will be much like that of a junkyard dog.

With looming deficits approaching $500M we will not be able to provide matching funds for current federal programs or many state funded programs.  The only way to fund FY 2021 is to use up all reserves. We do not yet have a way to fund FY 2022. Cutting spending rather than raising taxes to meet the deficit, in a rational way, is my priority.

Legislators are “trustees’ and “delegates” at the same time. My oath to follow the plain wording of both constitutions comes before public opinion polls or barrages of emails. As deadlines approach it is common to hear 100 bills PER SITTING. Many bills are on issues neither the legislator, nor his constituents, have ever heard of. In that case the legislator is a “trustee”. On other issues, if the candidate has run on specific issues, he should be cautious to keep his word. Barring new information a legislator should stay true to those statements as they now are promises to be kept…despite lobbying efforts to the contrary.

I consider functional solutions to be the goal. The party, or caucus, of the solution finder is not important. Voting for amendments to achieve “party balance” and be “inclusive”, if it reduces a positive outcome, is just plain goofy.

My eight years in the legislature and eight years on the PSC provide more examples of my efforts to work with various stakeholders than you need. Has the Chamber violated the beliefs and values of its members to be “part of the solution”? Please give examples.

I voted to reduce the business equipment tax many times when I served in the House. With the looming deficit I do not see such a proposal advancing. My voting for a local option sales tax like the one the Billings City Council/Billings Chamber has championed over the last quarter of a century is not in the cards.

If the government shuts down your business because of a virus that causes flu like symptoms (or other rationals) then your business taxes should be reduced to match reduced revenue.

We need to quit shifting taxes on the same taxpayers and calling it “reform”. There are ways to increase revenues from out of state sources to reduce Montanan’s tax burden. I am working on the bill drafts to accomplish that. Real reform is more difficult than spouting well-worn cliches’.

Like most states Montana does not do viable contact tracing. So we never find “patient zero” in any string. Therefore establishing blame is not probable. However, that will not stop a lawyer with education loans to service from filing nuisance lawsuits or hoping for an emotional finding by a jury thus establishing new case law.

Businesses and individuals should be protected from unfounded civil liability though our liberal Supreme Court will probably strike down meaningful reform to protect their campaign financing. I do not understand why you think COVID-19 should have its own designer legislation. Effective general liability protection should be the goal; not just for businesses but also for individuals. Viruses should not have their own MCA#

Petting puppies at a rescue shelter for a few hours a week and/or not having a job meets the work requirement. Applicant claims concerning assets and wages are accepted without investigation. Please share why you promote this farce through your question structuring.

I would deny welfare to able bodied adults the same as I did when previously serving in the House (we cut the welfare rolls by 50%). And I would require work requirements that require real work.

Gianforte, Daines, and Tester should have handled the federal rules dis-allowing real work requirements years ago. But they spend their time standing in front of a camera, in an empty room, waving their arms and babbling about “Montana values”. The goal should be to reduce the welfare rolls, not to increase the number of families on welfare to fund hospitals.

I assume your medical members (St. Vs, Billings Clinic, Riverstone) supplied the color to this question. Instead of having their lobbyists demand the federal government fund the Medicaid program at realistic rates they chose to [subjugate] 96,000 more Montanans into the welfare system during the best economy in the history of the state (2018). In 2018 every business had Help Wanted signs on display. Yet, your members chose to promote multi-generational welfare. How does this comport with your “quality of life that fosters prosperity” goal?

Your MHA members should demand the government fund Medicaid programs in a manner that does not harm the participants. It would be easier than cross donations, independent in-kind donations, and dark money campaign donation bundling supporting Llew Jones’s Solutions Caucus members (to defeat conservative Republicans) thus ensuring the taxpayer money spigot remains open. Funding big spender PACs and candidates under the Montana Hospital Association and MHA PAC monikers at the same time must get confusing for them.

If local governments have the money and desire to take over a defunded state program what is the problem? If local government or charities do not see the need to pick up the program then what is the problem? I am not aware of any local government that picked up a cut mental health program. Do you have examples? If “yes” was the program more effective or less effective than state run? Inquiring minds want to know.

When the co-conspirators are defining “success” success is a foregone conclusion. At no point is/was the One Big Sky District, by any name, “wisely used public dollars”. Had it passed, the State of Montana would be deeper in the hole in 2022 than currently projected and, depending on “success” quite possibly owe an additional $100M+ with no way to pay the bonds without a tax increase. I am shocked that you even asked this question.

What revision would I offer? It died in committee. It did not survive a “blast motion” and the situation is worse now than then. My advice would be to face reality. My hat is off to the legislators that did not buy this pig in a poke.

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