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Wolf bill reflects bipartisan work ethic

As your representative in Montana’s legislature, I’ve spent the past month trying to take the views of my friends and neighbors to the state government in Helena. Here’s a report on how it’s going so far.

This week saw some exciting action on the House floor. We voted on a major package of job creation bills. We all know that Montana’s small neighborhood businesses are the people who create jobs. They hire our friends and neighbors and family members. So I voted for three bills that will make it easier for businesses to do that. They all focused on limiting litigation and workers compensation costs. When a small business spends less on liability insurance, it has more money on hand to put people to work.

We also passed “the wolf bill.” Known as House Bill 73, this bill opens up a lot of new avenues for controlling the wolf problem here in Montana. It allows hunting and trapping of wolves near national parks, allows hunters to get more than one wolf tag, and allows hunters not to wear orange when they’re outside the standard big- game season. That bill passed the House of Representatives 96-3 — the chamber I work in — in January on a bipartisan vote. This week, the Senate passed it, too. That’s what we mean about “more work and less politics.” People worked together across party lines to solve a serious problem in Montana.

I hope we’ll be able to keep this bipartisan work ethic as we get further into the real meat of the session. The fact is the majority of the legislature wants to spend less than the governor. The majority of the legislature wants to fix our pension system for the long-term; the governor prefers a taxpayer-funded bailout of the existing system. The majority in the legislature prefers real, permanent tax relief for everyone, not just a one-time giveaway to a select few.

When those differences come to the fore, it will be hard to maintain the atmosphere of civility we have here. We can’t know what the future holds, but what has happened so far gives me reason for confidence.

If you have any input about specific bills, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email at greghertz11@gmail.com or call or text me at (406) 253-9505. You can also leave messages for individual legislators or committees by calling (406) 444-4800. For more information on Montana’s 63rd legislative session, visit the legislature’s website at www.leg.mt.gov.

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