By Ron VandenBoom
Merlin Wolery, Republican candidate for House District 90, told the North Central Montana Pachyderm Club Friday that his opponent, three-term Representative Antoinette (Tony) Hagener, has received failing grades from several agricultural and business related groups and questioned whether she should be sent back for a fourth term.
Wolery told the Pachyderms that because of Hagener's record the Montana Farm Bureau gave her an F in 1995.
He continued by citing The Montana Agricultural Business Association that in 1997 gave her voting record a 33 percent and The Montana Stockgrowers Association that in 1995 gave her a D minus.
"In 1999 she moved up to a D plus," he said.
e also cited The National Federation of Independent Businesses that gave her a 22 percent in 1995, a 30 percent in 1997, and in 1999 a 44 percent. The National Federation of Independent Businesses, he said, has 117 Hill County members.
Also cited was the Montana Chamber of Commerce which in 1995 gave her a 38 percent and followed it up in 1997 with a 24 percent. In 1999 she received a 25 percent, Wolery said.
Wolery said that in an interview with the Havre Daily News in February, 2000, Hagener said if we were to send her back to Helena for a fourth term she could be reasonably effective.
"I guess knowing how she represented our ag and business concerns, I don't think we should take the chance to send her back," Wolery said. "I don't think we need her being more effective."
Wolery also singled out several pieces of legislation he said Hagener voted against that he would have supported.
Wolery said if he had been the representative during the last session he would have supported Senate Bill 260 (SB 260) a bill to reduce the motor vehicle tax.
"My opponent was one of eight House member who opposed it," he said.
Wolery said SB 200, also known as Livestock and Business Equipment Reduction and Elimination Tax, was referred to by the Montana Chamber of Commerce as "the most important piece of economic development legislation passed by the Legislature in years."
Hagener was one of only 39 representatives to vote against it, Wolery said.
She also joined only 33 others in the House in voting against House Bill 15 (HB 15), Worlery said. This bill, Wolery said, was to study the impact of privatizing some aspects of government such as construction and maintenance.
Senate Bill 111, which passed the House 76 to 24, was also opposed by Hagener, Wolery said. The bill exempted intangible personal property such as stocks, bonds, copyrights, patents, and good will from tax.
"I'm not sure how you tax good will, but the state must have figured out a way to do it," he said.
The Employer Reference Protection Bill, SB 271, protected the employer from law suits stemming from information they might pass to a prospective employer about past employees during a reference check.
"It passed the House 69 to 31 and the Senate 48 to 2, Wolery said. "So the senators must have thought it was a real good idea. Representative Hagener opposed this bill."
He said that all of these bills were legislation that he would have supported and that Hagener voted against.
"I don't think we'll ever have economic development in Montana if we continue over-taxing and regulating our people," Wolery said.
Wolery told the Pachyderms that many people he has met during the campaign had told him he could not win the election just by being a nice guy.
"I am a nice guy, but then so is my opponent a nice lady," Wolery said. "This has to be a campaign of issues."
Wolery said he sees himself and Hagener as both very pro education and he believes they both see room for improvement in health care.
He said he believes Montanans enjoy an above average education system and pledged to insure adequate funding for K-12 and our colleges and universities.
The Business and Professional Woman Club and the Havre Daily News will be sponsoring a Candidate Forum for Hagener and Wolery at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, evening Oct. 17. Final details on the location of the forum are still being worked out and will be announced later. The forum will be open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend.