The candidates in the race for House District 34 in eastern Havre and northern Hill and Blaine counties showed sharp differences during a forum Thursday, especially on the record of the 2011 Legislature.
Democrat Karen Sloan, who is challenging second-term Rep. Wendy Warburton, R-Chinook, said she was having run-ins with the elected legislators during the last session.
“(I) decided if I was ever going to run for the Legislature, it should be now, ” Sloan said. “I don’t want some of the out-of-state corporations and people that are trying to run our government to continue to do that. … I want to be your representative. I don’t want someone else running the Legislature from far away and from a big corporation with a lot of money. ”
Warburton said the last Legislature was productive, although she noted that Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s VETO brand killed a lot of its accomplishments. She said she wants to return for a third term and continue her work there, citing the values for which she stands, many of which stem from her growing up on her family ranch in Blaine County, she added.
“I am continuing to stand for the same values throughout my legislative career, and I have been very open about those, those are family, faith, freedom and prosperity for Montana, ” she said, adding that Second Amendment rights and family values also are part of the list.
But Sloan said she agreed with the governor on most of the bills he vetoed
“I was really embarrassed by some of the things that were put out in the Legislature. I got calls from my cousin in Seattle about some of the bills that had been introduced. It kind of made us the laughing stock of America. ”
Warburton disagreed, saying, “the governor vetoed some great bills, ” citing a bill she co-sponsored to partially repeal Montana’s unisex insurance requirement, and her bill to require Fish, Wildlife and Parks to consult with county commissioners before moving buffalo, and bills to reduce health care costs.
“They were vetoed just because the current administration wanted to push through Obamacare or nothing, ” she said.
She said that, at the end of the day, the legislators still are friends, cordial and professional.
“So it is a little bit frustrating sometimes to hear the news reports make it sound more confrontational than it is, ” she said.
Sloan responded on the health care reform comment, saying that the state auditor tried to put in state programs to implement the reform, which was shot down by the Legislature.
“She was not allowed to even look at how we could work it into the program, ” she said. “So whether it was Obamacare or nothing it looks like to me like we decided (for nothing), and it was really because of the confrontation. ”
But Warburton said she supports a referendum to prohibit the federal government requiring people to buy health insurance — a main provision of the health care reform act.
“This is something that is outside of the constitutional bounds of the federal government …, ” she said. “I wholeheartedly support this, and I will fight Obamacare to the bitter end. ”
Sloan said it seems odd to her that people can be required now to buy auto insurance, but people oppose the health insurance requirement. The biggest reason for health care cost increases are the people without insurance, she said, adding that many people already are pleased with some provisions such as parents keeping their children on their policy until their children are 26.
The two did nearly agree on one issue — on a ballot initiative that requires doctors to notify parents if a girl younger than 16 seeks an abortion.
Sloan said that can cause a problem. While she is pleased that her children always have been able to talk to her, she said, that is not always the case in all families.
She said that, because the referendum includes a legal process where a young girl still can get a judge to approve the process without parental notification, it could work.
“It’s certainly not something that anybody would wish to have happen, but there have been times it has been appropriate. There are legal things in that bill which I think are good, that would make it so it would be possible if this person could not talk to their parents. ”
“This bill should already be law, ” Warburton said, adding that parents now have no right to know if their underage daughter is getting an abortion.
She said she amended the bill in committee to be for all girls up to age 18, but that was stripped out.
“I’m pleased that it’s actually going to be on the ballot, and I encourage everyone to vote for this, ” Warburton said, “It’s a very big step in the right direction. ”