Tim MacDonald Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Montana state Rep. John Musgrove, D-Havre, foresees a difficult session in the coming year, but he is hopeful that the Republicancontrolled House of Representatives will come around. The Republicans took a narrow lead in the house with a vote recount in Yellowstone County, which has enabled them to take over the powerful committees. “They have only a thin majority, just one seat, but that doesn’t show up in the committee makeup. Some committees they have three more members than we do.” Musgrove said. “I don’t think this is fair to the voters.” There are several bills and resolutions Musgrove plans to introduce in the coming session. One involves opening the Wild Horse port on the border between Canada and the U. S. as a 24-hour border station. “This will help the Alberta people, as much as Montana as far as opening the area up to more economic development,” Musgrove said. The senator is also introducing a bill on behalf of the Hill County Cemetery Board to adjust the supporting trust fund to better meet their needs. As a leader of the Auditing Committee, Musgrove plans to introduce two bills, one is a procedural bill dealing with the manner in which the state agencies are audited, and the other deals with the fact that the state has no “whistle blower” law to protect state employees who come forward to report waste or wrongdoing. “This would keep them from suffering any retributions or penalties, such as getting fired,” Musgrove said. He is cosponsoring a bill with Republican Sen. Balyeat of the Bozeman area to put some controls on state severance packages. He gave the example of the former head of the State Historical Society who drew $75,000 in state funds in the eight months after he left the position. Another bill concerns finding a source of funding for the Economic Development Office, the office is an under funded mandate from the federal government, meaning they required the state to form the office, but didn’t follow through with funding for the project. “I’m not sure about the future of this bill,” Musgrove said. “Some of these bills are going to be difficult to put through.” Musgrove plans to redefine the Minor in Possession law so that it would treat minors who have not been drinking and are driving minors who have been drinking much the same as it would an adult in the same position. “I am concerned that the law should treat everybody fairly and equally,” he said. Two major bills are on hold, one concerning statewide health insurance and the other concerning funding and maintenance of the St. Mary and Milk River Basin water project. “We want to see the St. Mary’s go forward in a timely manner,” Musgrove said. “It is very important to us. “It looks like it’s going to be a very busy session for us. The way some things are shaping up it might be very interesting,” Musgrove said. “I’m leaving the Legislature in two years when my term limit is up, and I’d always hoped to have one session where we had the majority,” he added. “Well, that didn’t happen. “But I think as things start to develop, we will be able to find ways to work across the aisle and get some work done. We aren’t just there for partisan politics, we are there to serve the people we represent,” he said.