The Front Line . . .

By Jim Anderson

The 62nd Legislature is underway.  With 38 new legislators and the Republicans in control, it will be interesting to see what happens over the next 90 days.

Even though most of the new freshmen were elected by the Tea Party, the leadership of this session is not all conservative. The more liberal Republicans moved quickly to gain control of both houses.

One can see that change isn’t going to come easily.  Government is one of our biggest employers and it doesn’t want to be trimmed or cut.

On the left we have the Democrats who say let’s create jobs by increasing the size of government.  On the other side we have the Republicans who say let’s decrease government and increase jobs in the private sector through small business growth. In the middle are those who intend to make money off both sides.

Hopefully, the people of Montana will benefit from this group of men and women who have been elected to keep our state solvent and heading in a positive direction.  It is our job to keep them honest and on track.  If we forget they are over there in session and don’t stay in touch, then we shouldn’t complain when it is over.

There are numerous issues to watch. 

Medical Marijuana

This was passed on an Initiative several years ago and has left law enforcement and cities in a quandary on how to enforce it.  It should be repealed and left for the courts to sort out.  However, this Legislature will not do that.  Instead, they will need to provide answers on how to enforce it.  Recent pictures in the Great Falls Tribune show two young women smoking “medical marijuana”. The initiative was sold to the public to help old folks struggling with chronic pain.  How are so many young people getting medical marijuana cards?  This isn’t going to be an easy one to legislate.

Obama Health Care bill

We should join with other states and repeal this bill and stop it from becoming law. This bill alone creates 147 new government agencies and increases taxes.

I-161

With the passing of this Initiative last fall it eliminated State sponsored Outfitter tags and increased the nonresident license 40 percent. We suspect that FWP is going to try and dictate to the Outfitters that they can only receive as many clients as they had in guaranteed tags. Now that these tags no longer exist, it would be unconstitutional to tell these businessmen how many clients they are allowed. The Legislature must protect a level playing field for the Outfitting industry.

Department of Environmental Quality

Cities all across Montana are being held hostage by the DEQ.

Increasing regulation is making it impossible for cities to comply.  The amount of money that must be spent in order to satisfy these new regulations means enormous tax increases. We must have protection from the DEQ who is saying they are only following the EPA guidelines. It is time for relief from government.

These are only a few of the important issues that must be dealt with by our Legislators. Most of these are hard working men and women who are dedicated to making our communities and Montana a better place. They need our input, encouragement and support.

Editor’s note: Jim Anderson is a Montana native, Choteau businessman and resident of the Rocky Mountain Front.