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Two vie for Senate District 5 seat

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Democrat Edd Blackler and Republican incumbent Verdell Jackson are candidates for Senate District 5. Both candidates were asked what they felt were the top three issues that should be addressed by the 2011 Montana State Legislature.

Since families are the foundation of the United State, Jackson said the top three issues he’ll continue to work on are financial strength, freedom and safety.

Financial strength for Montanans would include good paying jobs, reducing property taxes, eliminating the business equipment tax and a low-cost energy supply. Montana now has a tourism economy with average wages that are 49th in the nation, Jackson said.

“Prudent expansion of the harvest of natural resources, especially energy resources,” Jackson said, “can provide low cost energy, good paying jobs, eliminate the need for the business equipment tax and mitigate the tax burden on property owners.  Legislation to reduce unnecessary regulations and litigation is needed to improve the financial opportunities of families in Montana.”

Jackson added that property rights, water rights, gun rights and access to water and public lands are all under attack each session by socialist, conservation groups, and government bureaucrats who do not trust citizens to be good care takers of their own property or for the responsible use of guns and public lands and water.”  

The trend is to take freedom away from everyone because a few people cannot be trusted, Jackson said, but he added,  “It is a much better policy to punish the guilty and not infringe on the freedom of the rest of us. Legislation that infringes on the freedom of the innocent is present each session.

Safety is an issue that required proactive legislation and enforcement of existing laws.

“We need to pass adequate state laws to protect our borders, to support our law enforcement officers, and protect our citizens from drugs, pornography and predators,” Jackson said. 

“The most urgent challenge facing our State Legislature is the matter of funding,” Blackler said. 

“Our elected representatives need to immediately work together to ascertain exactly which state- provided services are mandated by our constitution, what level of funding is required to provide these services, and what means of generating revenue will be used to raise these funds.”

Blackler said legislators would have to take a serious look at cost saving possibilities in all departments. 

A second issue Blackler is concerned about is property tax. The Montana State Property Tax needs to be reformed, Blackler said. 

“It is not reasonable or moral to allow citizens to be taxed out of their homes,” he said.

Blackler’s third issue is that measures need to be taken to protect the quality of our air and water. These are the fundamental reasons that “we all prefer to live in Montana.”

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