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Throughout this pandemic we have seen sweeping executive actions that have stifled bottom-up solutions to challenges brought on by COVID-19 and the subsequent economic shut down. The legislature should reform the emergency powers in Section 50 of Montana’s code to re-balance the executive branch and agencies with the legislature and local officials so those closest to the democratic process can be involved and actively accountable for such impactful public policy.
Montanans are rightly concerned about government abuse of their personal information in a rapidly evolving, tech-centric society. This is evident in our citizens reluctance to participate in the state’s contact tracing effort. Lawmakers must create firmer constraints on data use in order to safeguard Montanans right to privacy and increase trust in our pandemic response.
COVID-19 has demonstrated the inflexibility of our current education system. The legislature should consider reforms which allow more flexibility for teachers, families, and students including adjustments to the Tax Credit Scholarship program, and Individual Tax Credits. Lawmakers should work to empower families with options to address their children’s unique needs for this crisis and beyond.
The legislature has several opportunities to reign in excessive regulations which threaten both individuals’ ability to find fulfilling work, solve problems with new businesses or even operate in our state. AFP-Montana is supporting a regulatory review and REINS act.
The Regulatory Review Act would require the executive branch to look backwards at all regulations in the Montana ARM and set a budget for them in line with our neighboring states regulations per-capita, and target eliminations of old and unneedful regulations to bring the total onto the trend line.
A Regulatory REINS act would require any new regulation in Montana above $10 million dollars in economic impact to be passed by the legislature.
Montana’s economy is reliant on a competitive agricultural industry. Large producers have boxed out the smaller entrepreneurs with too many regulations which hindered growth and innovation. AFP-Montana looks forward to working with lawmakers to address the cronyism in the current system to increase opportunity in this sector of our economy from ending the ban on raw milk, to expanding commerce rights to sell goods to willing buyers in Montana.
As members of the newly launched Montana Coalition for Public Safety, AFP-Montana is committed to a long-term effort to make Montana’s criminal justice system one that keeps our communities safe while recognizing the ability in every person to improve their life. The legislature should address Montana’s current pre-trial surveillance, and parole systems can drive recidivism and pre-trial incarceration unconnected to public safety. We also plan on looking at how Montana can lower barriers for employment of the previously incarcerated and take a solid look at a better data system within our state so new policy changes can be better tracked and understood in the future.
AFP-Montana will work with the legislature to pass health care reforms that increase access and lower costs for all Montanans. We encourage the legislature to abolish Certificate of Need laws which stifle access – particularly for Montana’s most rural citizens, expands Direct Care access and tele-health access, and end the ban on doctors providing prescribed medication directly to patients.
Montana’s budget has increased far beyond trends for population and inflation. Lawmakers must reign in our state’s overall spending to ensure we are not spending beyond our means, bringing the government back onto the trendline.