1. Do you support restructuring Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to provide more attention/revenue to non-hunting wildlife and recreation?
My understanding is there has been increased attention focused between license-fee paying activities such as hunting and fishing verses recreation and game management issues that do not have a license fee revenue stream. Much more information need to come out before I can make any legislative decision.
2. How do you plan to serve in the Legislature during a pandemic? Will you wear a mask while in the Capitol? Do you think the session should be held in-person, remotely or some mix of the two?
The same as I always have. I will wear a mask as rules apply and when I'm in situations where I feel the need. I hope for an in-person session as virtual meeting are not as effective for discussion information and comment. If session is not in person it will be much harder to secure research from legislative staff and get answers from the administration and various state departments and agencies. Most importantly the ability of citizens to add input will also be limited.
3. Climate change caused by human emission of fossil fuels has affected Montana, including an increase in average annual temperature and shifts in growing seasons for farmers. Should Montana offer subsides for clean energy creation? Do you support or oppose ending tax breaks and subsidies for coal, oil and gas production?
Montana should have an all-the-above energy plan. Renewable energy, which includes hydroelectric power generation, is being pushed on us. Unfortunately, renewables cannot compete in the marketplace without the tax breaks and subsidies they receive. Montana needs to get to where all forms of energy compete on an equal basis. Montana also needs to be smart and strive to keep the ability to have base load power generation capacity so we don't have the black- and brownouts that California is experiencing.
4. The University of Montana has seen a 40% enrollment drop since 2010, and now is struck with the effects of the pandemic. What, if anything, should be done to help the university?
The state's share of funding for higher education goes to the Montana University System and is then budgeted to each school. As legislators we have negotiated for higher retention and graduation rates and tuition freezes. The U of M must solve this problem themselves. President Bodnar has taken head-on some of the key issues. These include curriculum, public relations and budget issues from lower enrollment and high personnel costs. The improved recruiting of both in- and out-of-state students and the success in acquiring research opportunities is a great start.
5. What do you see as the No. 1 issue facing your constituents and how will you address it?
Montana's economy was performing at a very productive rate in 2019 and early 2020. We had solid natural resource production, new tech jobs coming in and low unemployment. Montana lost a lot of economic momentum starting in mid-March as many individuals and businesses had to rely on government programs for survival. We will need to see not just new businesses but the return of old businesses that are struggling or collapsed during 2020. For the economy to heal, we must get away from government giveaways and get back to the economy standing on its own.
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