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Senate District 47 candidate Q&A: Devin Braaten

Senate District 47 candidate Q&A: Devin Braaten

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1. Do you support restructuring Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to provide more attention/revenue to non-hunting wildlife and recreation?

Montana public lands should remain public to everyone. Why should people need permits to access public land? It should not be the government’s business to legislate and regulate when or where any Montanan can enjoy our land recreationally. Bringing more people into Montana for tourism will bring in more revenue for the state. Let's not overburden our own citizens with unnecessary licensing, permits and regulations.

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?

There is a vaccine due to be circulating by November to prevent COVID-19 infection. If I win, I hope to be serving in a post-pandemic Montana. Should that not be the case, I will wear a mask if it is required of me. I will plan to be in Helena in person serving my constituents. I understand if local representatives will want to stay at home.

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?

The government cannot and should never decide what businesses win. That is favoritism, which leaves the doors wide open to cronyism. Winners who are decided on by who is in power is what destroys the free market and the small businessman. I do not support subsidies for clean energy creation. With that, I do not support tax breaks or subsidies for coal, oil and gas, either. Going green should be a priority, but no good idea should be forced upon anyone.

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?

Government shouldn’t further subsidize education when it has seen a 40% decrease in its consumers over 10 years. The U of M and the Board of Regents have had that many years to change their business plan and provide a realistic growth model. If the consumer population thinks that the U of M is not a good investment, why should the taxpayer continue subsidizing it? We already have a property tax levy for the university system in Montana with 10% of our state taxes going to universities; they don’t need more, they need to re-focus.

5. What do you see as the No. 1 issue facing your constituents and how will you address it?

COVID-19 has opened our eyes to many financial issues. Farmers and ranchers have suffered greatly due to farm-to-market barriers. There are too many steps for food to take before it reaches your table. I want to remove those barriers that legislate how food must reach us. We know what we want. We want Montana grown food straight from the farm, the ranch, the dairy yard. We know what’s best for us. We should be able to get it.

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