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The best social program is a good job and a thriving economy. Initiative 186 hurts both.

A good job gives us food on the table, shoes for the baby, a shiny car in the garage, a home, insurance and pride in life. A thriving economy provides bigger paychecks, college funding and better chances of successful school levies. Taxes help pay for county services, and funding for state programs includes Medicaid and welfare assistance.

That’s what the Troy mine gave to Lincoln County. It was a big part of our Golden Goose. Today the entire Troy mine project is near completion, start to finish, with no ongoing cost to state government. No big environmental disaster, no polluted rivers. Troy mine is proof that Initiative 186 is unnecessary.

Initiative 186 would chase good mining companies out of Montana. Make no mistake — Montana already has very stringent mining laws. New mines struggle to get permitted under existing laws, like the two proposed mines in Lincoln County. Don’t kill the Golden Goose with the vague, unnecessary wording in this proposed new law by initiative.

Misleading statements, partial truths and fictitious suggestions promote I-186. Think for yourself. Mining practices from a hundred years ago were never part of Troy mine. Use your own eyes and common sense. Troy mine was good for us, good for Lincoln County, Montana, our nation. The copper and silver is needed. We all use these minerals every day, multiple times a day.

Mining companies must provide millions of dollars in bonding up front to Montana Department of Environmental Quality for possible future costs. That’s state law. The law didn’t always exist, and at times DEQ didn’t require enough bonding, so some unanticipated cleanup costs are covered by fees on production of minerals, oil, gas and timber, rarely from other state funds. I know because I chaired the subcommittee that approved the expenditures for the 2013 state budget.

The 66th Legislature convenes in January. If a new law is needed, it can be discussed openly and honestly in the normal legislative process. Let proponents and opponents present their ideas in open committees. Let the facts be known. Let amendments be considered. Don’t rush to judgment.

Initiative 186 would eliminate good jobs and hobble the economy in Lincoln County and Montana.

I will vote "no" on I-186!

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Rep. Mike Cuffe, R-Eureka, represents House District 2 in the Montana Legislature, and is running as a candidate for Senate District 1. 

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