Christine Johnson is a resident of Huson and the Democratic candidate for House District 14. She is running against Jessie Nichols, an Independent from Alberton, and Nicholas Schwaderer, a Republican from Superior. The following are Johnson’s responses to a Missoulian questionnaire.
Should the Affordable Care Act – national health care reform – be repealed? And if so, what would replace it?
Health care is an important part of our society, and health care reform is definitely needed to make it more affordable, consistent and accessible. The ACA was an important first step, but parts of the act need to be revised and parts may need to be repealed. While one vital piece of health care reform was addressed in the ACA, access for persons with pre-existing conditions, another piece of reform that needs to be discussed is the ability to purchase insurance across state lines.
If Republicans don’t win the presidency or Congress and the ACA is not repealed, should Montana continue to resist implementing it, even though it would be federal law?
Montana’s elected officials will need to work together to continue to implement the ACA for the betterment of the state’s residents. When new laws and regulations are handed down, Montana’s government needs to determine if the changes will be for the benefit of Montanans or if amendments or implementation strategies need to be altered to better serve the state.
Under the ACA, Montana has the option to expand Medicaid and cover at least another 50,000 people, with federal assistance. Would you support or not support expanding Medicaid in Montana? Why?
Expanding Medicaid will benefit the groups most in need in Montana, including children, the elderly and Native Americans. The expansion will also help hospitals better serve communities and their residents.
Should the state money spent on public schools be increased or not? What changes would you suggest in this funding?
As the daughter of a teacher, education has always been important in my family. Public schools help mold future generations of inventors, scientists, entrepreneurs and even educators. In order for Montana and the United States to succeed, K-12 education needs to be a foundation piece. Any changes in funding, including increasing or reallocating school funding, should not only be discussed among government agencies, but also with the communities and schools that are in greatest need of additional resources.
The oil-and-gas boom in eastern Montana is putting pressure on services, schools and infrastructure in that area. Should the state be doing anything to assist these areas and encourage the boom?
Montana should be encouraging businesses to expand to eastern Montana. Montana has many small businesses that could benefit from extending services to areas experiencing the boom and surrounding communities. In addition, the state could help educate other areas or interested businesses and individuals in what is needed in these areas. Not only will this help alleviate state resources and help create more job growth, but it would help build a stronger economy in the communities and in the state.
Should Montana’s incentives for renewable energy be amended in any way? If so, how?
Renewable energy helps create a better, more sustainable and independent economy and environment. Montana, especially western Montana, is rich with renewable resources, including wood. A lot of the renewable energy incentives have been focused on new solar, wind and biofuel technology, which are vital for increasing the future use of renewable resources. Wood can be used to produce biofuels, but oftentimes it is cost-prohibitive. Currently, wood can be used in many different forms to provide heat and energy. Hogfuel, pellets and wood chips can be used to efficiently heat homes, businesses, hospitals and schools, and it would be great to see more competitive incentives for wood and other existing renewable energy resources.
Should Montana be encouraging coal production for export? How?
Montana has many natural resources. Coal production is an essential part of some communities in eastern Montana. In our current economy, jobs need to be retained and increased wherever possible. Supporting additional coal production will help create more jobs, not just in the production plants, but in supporting businesses as well. With any industry expansion, however, ensuring all business and government stakeholders work together to develop proper oversight and regulations will create a better, stronger industry and help make sure safety and the environment are managed and protected.
Is there anything Montana should be doing to encourage oil-and-gas development in the state?
The oil-and-gas industry is creating jobs, boosting economies and helping create more independence from other countries. Working together with industry, community and government stakeholders now will help businesses, communities and the environment in the future. By working with the different groups, Montana can market itself to potential development companies, and developers will know the requirements and regulations in the area. Developers will also be able to work with the communities that support and encourage growth.