Issues

Issues that are Important for Montana House District 3

 My focus is on seeking practical solutions to the problems at hand.   While I support the values that I describe below, I consider myself a problem solver—not an ideologue.  Here’s where I stand on the issues.              

Jobs & The Economy

  • HD3 is uniquely situated: it covers the western half of Glacier National Park and the “gateway communities” west of the Continental Divide. Our district also includes large stretches of Flathead National Forest as well as all three forks of the Wild and Scenic Flathead River. This landscape provides us with a wonderful quality of life—and fuels our local economy.
  • Our beautiful scenery and abundant fish and wildlife populations help drive our local economy by attracting tourists—and are instrumental in attracting new businesses and residents. Therefore, we need to protect this natural wonderland to ensure our economic well-being.
  • While outdoor recreation and tourism are the two main drivers of the HD3 economy, we also have a working landscape that supports farming and forestry. It is important that we maximize a sustainable local farming and forestry economy by supporting related value-added businesses, including mills and farm-to-market enterprises.
  • COVID-19 has hit our businesses hard and until we have a vaccine, it will continue to have a negative impact. As a legislator, I will do everything that I can to help our businesses flourish again and keep workplaces safe for employees.  This will require government and private business working together to create safe working environments, reasonable rules to prevent disease, and support for the innovation required to create and sustain the quality jobs necessary for a healthy economy.

Public Education

  • Public education is a cornerstone of our economy and prosperity. We need a strong public education system to prepare our children for the challenges and opportunities we face in an ever-changing world.
  • As a former public high school teacher and principal of a K-8th grade school, I understand the value of public education and will be an education champion in the legislature. As an advocate for HD3 in Helena, I will make sure that we receive our fair share of state funds to support our local schools.
  • Having been a public-school principal, I know the importance of keeping the reigns on multi-million-dollar budgets and assuring that our public schools are accountable to the high standards Montanans expect and our children deserve.

Affordable Healthcare

  • Montanans deserve affordable and accessible health care. Particularly now, in the middle of a pandemic that has affected every one of us, it is important to ensure all Montanans have available the health care they need.
  • As a legislator, I will support the continuation of Medicaid expansion, the right to choose your healthcare provider, and efforts to address mental health issues including substance abuse and suicide prevention programs. I support the individual’s right to make all personal medical and palliative healthcare decisions throughout their life and the right to privacy for all these decisions.

Affordable Housing

  • A decade ago, young families fleeing high real estate prices in Kalispell and Whitefish were able to purchase homes at affordable prices in Columbia Falls. In the last few years, this has changed significantly.  According to Zillow’s home value index, the median home price in Columbia Falls has increased 33 percent in the last five years while household incomes across Flathead County have increased about 3 percent.
  • While escalating property values add equity for homeowners, there are also challenges that are created. Specifically, higher home prices are driving higher property taxes for our older residents, and higher purchase prices are a challenge for our younger residents and first-time home buyers. We need to reform our property tax system so that it doesn’t drive our older residents on fixed incomes out of their homes; and we need to support affordable housing initiatives for our younger residents so that they too can build equity.
  • As your legislator I will work with the Montana Board of Housing to support and expand the public-private partnerships that have proven successful in building a larger stock of affordable housing, both rental properties and home ownership. It is critical that state and local government continue working with our nonprofit community so that together we can build housing for low- and middle-income families.

Tax Reform

  • Our tax system must be equitable and transparent. As property taxes rise, many of our retired residents and even working families in HD3 cannot remain in their homes.  Therefore, I am committed to a property tax circuit breaker that would adjust property taxes based upon the ability to pay, with the deferred taxes paid once the property is sold.
  • I am committed to making out-of-state corporations pay their fair share of taxes in Montana and this can be done by implementing a worldwide income reporting for multi-national corporations that also earn money in Montana.
  • Fairness dictates that taxation should be based upon the ability to pay, which is achieved through graduated rates. When those in the top brackets aren’t paying their fair share, then middle- and lower-income taxpayers end up paying more than their fair share. We need to ensure balance so that our working families take home enough to pay their bills.

Veterans

  • Our military personnel and their families are important to our country, to our democracy—and to our community. We owe a great debt to the women and men who have served in our military; their sacrifices must not be forgotten. I was born in a military hospital and grew up in a career military family.I understand the needs of military personnel and their families.
  • Across Montana we have more veterans than most states and it is important that we make sure that they are provided timely and effective services, including healthcare, quality mental health services, education and job training, meaningful employment, and small business assistance. In Columbia Falls we are proud to be home to the Montana Veterans’ Home, which I will work hard to support.

Public Lands

  • Our abundant public lands are a priceless treasure and access to these lands is the mainstay of our HD3 economy. I will fight to maintain public access to our public lands.  Likewise, I am a strong supporter of keeping our public lands in public hands and will oppose any attempt to sell or give-away these lands to industries or individuals.
  • I oppose any attempt at top-down decisions to remove protection for our last remaining wild lands. These public lands are used by our citizens, and millions of visitors to our state, for recreation, hunting and fishing, solitude, and inspiration and are an important part of our lifestyle, heritage, and economy.
  • I participated in the collaborative work of the Whitefish Range Partnership which succeeded in establishing a sustainable yield of forest products, preserving high quality recreational opportunities, and proposing wilderness in the Flathead National Forest. For all of these reasons, as a legislator I am an unapologetic champion for our public lands. 

Clean Air & Water

  • The Montana Constitution guarantees the right of every Montanan to a clean and healthful environment for present and future generations. I support regulations that protect our clean air and water and ensure this basic right. House District 3 has some of the cleanest air and water in the world. It brings tourist dollars to our businesses.  As your legislator, I will work hard to preserve and protect our clean air and water for us—and future generations. 

Renewable Energy

  • As we confront global climate change, we must reduce reliance on fossil fuels through a combination of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and the development of clean, renewable energy sources. We can achieve this goal while providing transitions to good-paying jobs in a clean energy economy.
  • It is important that the state of Montana sets ambitious and obtainable goals for greenhouse gas reductions, as neighboring states have done. The legislature needs to support the development of clean, renewable energy and remove obstacles to net-metering so that homeowners and businesses who want to install solar panels and wind turbines are not discouraged from doing so.  In addition, we need to set standards for energy conservation on buildings.
  • Montana has the second highest wind energy potential of all states, and we need to incentivize utility scale wind and solar energy in eastern Montana to utilize the transmission capacity already coming out of Montana, which usage is now diminishing as Colstrip Units 1 and 2 have been shut down. While we are making this transition to clean energy, we need to make sure that fossil fuel workers can make the transition to good-paying renewable energy jobs as we have seen in Texas and Iowa.

Gun Ownership

  • The rights of law-abiding citizens to own and use firearms must not be abridged—whether for sport, personal protection or simply the pleasure of ownership. We, in Montana, have a long tradition of responsible gun ownership. As a gun owner, I support our Second Amendment Rights. Given the proliferation of gun violence, mass shootings and the ever-increasing destructive power of new weapons, however, I stand with the majority of gun owners who support firearm education and reasonable measures, such as universal background checks that protect our communities and still respect our constitutional right to bear arms. 

Protecting Our Democracy

  • The right to vote is at the very heart of our democracy. In Montana, we have some of the strongest voting-rights and campaigning laws in the entire country.  All voters have the right to same-day voter registration, the right to mail-in ballots, and voting machines that use a paper ballot and cannot be hacked from the outside.  I support these measures which protect Montanans’ exercise of their right to vote.
  • We have a non-partisan committee which handles our re-districting and protects us from gerrymandering. Montana has reasonable campaign contribution levels and has made a valiant attempt to keep secret “dark money” out of our state elections.  I will work hard to preserve these protections and not allow our state to slide into any attempt to disenfranchise voters or make it more difficult for our citizens to cast a vote.