Local Republican candidates for the Montana Legislature called for help turning more of the state red in the 2012 election, saying that it is crucial in helping them pass their ideas to help the state.
Reps. Wendy Warburton and Kris Hansen and Sen. Craig Tilleman, all Havre Republicans, were joined by Harlem Republican Don Richman, who is challenging Tilleman in the primary race for his Senate seat, in addressing a capacity crowd Sunday at the Lincoln-Reagan Day fundraiser in the Montana State University-Northern Student Union Building Ballroom.
Hansen said the work, at least in the House, was very successful, with more than 600 bills proposed in the Legislature, many passed and a record 78 vetoed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat who is terming out this year.
“We did a lot of work that kind of got shoved back at us, ” Hansen said. “We are looking to do a better job next time. With one of these governor (candidates) in the right place, we can do a lot for the state of Montana. ”
Warburton said the Republican majority passed many bills successfully, although some, such as cutting the state budget and reforming Workers Compensation, had to be compromised in negotiations with Gov. Brian Schweitzer, but still were improvements.
She also cited bills including one to help wind energy development, one she sponsored to allow certified nurses aides to receive new accreditation to help nursing home facilities deal with nursing shortages, revising the business equipment tax, requiring parental notification for girls younger than 16 trying to get an abortion.
Others included reforming the environmental protection act, challenging the endangered species act, bills on wolves, on bison relocation, illegal immigration, and a bill she sponsored to allow insurance companies to consider gender in setting rates. She also named a bill requested by Attorney General Steve Bullock to implement a round-the-clock, seven-day a week testing program to enforce driving while intoxicated sentences.
“We in the Republican majority passed a lot of good bills, ” Warburton said. “Unfortunately, as Kris mentioned, Governor B. S. vetoed 78 of them. … (He) characterized our bills as off-the-wall or crazy, but they were good bills. ”
Tilleman, who was appointed to take the place of Sen. Rowlie Hutton, R-Havre, after Hutton resigned last summer, said he and Richman are going to focus on the issues, not attacking each other, to try to build on Republican success in Hill and Blaine counties.
“This doesn’t happen by accident, ” Tilleman said. “It takes the best candidates out there with the best organization behind them. Success builds success. ”
Tilleman said he and Richman are joining the other Republicans in the race who want to stand up and make the state a better place for their children and grandchildren.
“We have before us the right people to continue improving our government and making it accountable. … They are going to make Montana, and the nation, the best they can be, ” Tilleman said.
Richman said he wanted to echo what Tilleman said.
“Craig will never hear a bad word from me about his candidacy, ” Richman said. “This is going to be a campaign about the issues. ”
He said the room was filled with a great slate of gubernatorial candidates.
“The best part of our governor election right now is the one who is going to be leaving, ” he added to laughter and applause. “I think it’s time to take our country back. ”