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 By Sondra Ashton    Opinion    March 21, 2019 

Looking out my Backdoor: What you gonna do when your well runs dry?

Three weeks and counting. Two deep wells supply the municipality of Etzatlan with water. One of the city well pumps quit working. Died the good death after a life of service to his community. Down on...

 

Legislators must address Alzheimer's epidemic

On April 2, Montanans will join hundreds of other alzheimer’s advocates from across the country in our nation’s capitol, meeting with Senator Daines, Senator Tester and Congressman Gianforte. The resounding message will again be loud and clear:...

 

Montana range war?

The Montana Legislature has gone all in on big government and socialism with House Joint Resolution 28. American Prairie Reserve has legally acquired federal grazing leases. The Montana Legislature is proposing to instruct the BLM to use “science...

 

Week 9

Our daughter, Maci, was in Helena with her family to spend this past week with us. Last session, she was the only member of our family who was unable to visit me at the Capitol, so it was special to have her and two of her children here. Judy and I...

 

It is time to make the 6-mill levy permanent

In 1947, thousands of WW II veterans eligible for G.I. Bill higher education benefits were overwhelming the Montana University System. The feeling in Montana and the rest of the country was that nobody was entitled to a living, but that everybody...

 
 By Pam Burke    Opinion    March 15, 2019

View from the North 40: Vaguely legal news briefs

A federal appeals court in Michigan gave unanimous support Wednesday to your First Amendment rights to communicate clearly with your middle finger. The Associated Press reports that in 2017, Taylor, Michigan, police officer Matthew Minard pulled...

 

Looking out my Backdoor: I got culture

Last Thursday Kathy, Richard, Nancie and I drove into Guadalajara for a night of highbrow music. El Teatro Santo Degollado, in the Centro Historico district where the Orquesta Filamonica performs, is...

 

Back to work after legislative transmittal break

This past week was transmittal week for the Legislature, which is kind of like spring break for Senators. Judy and I spent a couple days enjoying home in Chester and then came back down to Helena, as the Montana State Senate was back in Friday and...

 

Planned work tracking a bureaucratic train wreck that will derail Medicaid expansion

It’s helpful to be at the same line of work long enough to be able to be proven wrong. I’ve been working with NAMI Montana to improve Montana’s mental illness treatment system for the past 10 years. We’ve been really active on the local,...

 

Better elk management needed in Montana

There’s an old saying in Montana that elk make people do stupid things. There’s a lot of truth to that saying. Whether you’re a dedicated elk hunter, a landowner with 400 head of elk on a haystack or a wildlife manager seeking to balance the ne...

 
 By Pam Burke    Opinion    March 8, 2019

View from the North 40: Huh, the time change has a sucker punch

Twice a year, when the time change comes around, I am stunned by the amount of whining and complaining people do over one hour of sleep more or less. It’s an hour, not the end of times, you’ll survive. You’ll even adjust; it’s true. You will...

 
 By Sondra Ashton    Opinion    March 7, 2019

Looking out my Backdoor: Strange and sad and sweet, amid Mardi Gras

I’ve heard stories about this elderly couple who live in El Amparo, the abandoned mining town in the mountains, ever since I moved to Etzatlan. Every Thursday this traditional couple, she in her...

 

Can't please everyone as a legislator

Our first 45 days of the 66th legislative session have ended. We are in the transmittal break and catching up on emails and U.S. mail. I am going to change up my weekly report a bit. As legislators, we are scored on all of our votes. Some scores come...

 
 By Pam Burke    Opinion    March 1, 2019

View from the North 40: Making winter not so bad - Psyche!

Psychologists have long lists of terms for what they — and we, the flawed masses — call coping or self-defense mechanisms because, in the end, we all have to do what we can to get through to happier, or less suckier, days. Like spring. I’m not...

 

Support bipartisan youth suicide prevention bills

Montana is a state with a proud history of firsts. We were the first state to elect a woman to Congress: our very own Jeannette Rankin. We were also the first state in the nation to enact sweeping anti-corruption legislation in the Copper King era,...

 

Looking out my Backdoor: February is the longest month

Winter, we are weary. Whether she gambols like a bleating lamb or roars like a lion, we welcome March after the grim days of February. Skies may still be gray but a fleeting scent in the air says...

 

University system at Legislature in Week 7

Montana State University-Northern was in Helena for a legislative meet and greet. Last Monday, the folks from the university system had a presentation for a number of us Legislators from north-central Montana. We were made aware of some of the...

 

Catch and keep or let them swim away

It’s often said that Montana is like a small town with long streets. Montanans may be separated by hundreds of miles but it’s amazing how many mutual friends you find you have after talking with someone for five minutes in this giant small town....

 
 By Pam Burke    Opinion    February 22, 2019

View from the North 40: The beet definitely will go on

My husband doesn’t like beets. I do like beets. This is, I'll admit, inconsequential and the beet-thing obviously hasn’t been a deal breaker in this marriage or much of a “thing” at all (and you know what I mean by “thing” if you’re...

 

Looking out my Backdoor: A road less traveled

Jim phoned, “Would you like to go to El Amparo? John and Carol are coming. Be ready in half an hour.” I’ve been wanting to go see the ghost town of El Amparo for three years. Beginning in the...

 

Week 6 in the Legislature

The highlight of my week was that the Montana Association of Counties was in Helena for their annual meeting. Every session, county representatives come to Helena for their conference. I visited with commissioners, from both my district and some...

 

Common sense is the best medicine

Want to fix the high costs of medical provisions and the inherent shortcomings of the Veterans Administration, Public Health Service, military health program, Medicaid, Medicare, Indian Health Service, and Federal Employees Health Benefits? Think col...

 
 By Pam Burke    Opinion    February 15, 2019

View from the North 40: Maybe learn Canadian as a Second Language

Ian Hammond, which sounds like an actual name and not a user name, started as a joke an online petition to sell Montana to Canada for $1 trillion to help pay down the U.S. debt, arguing that: “We have too much debt and Montana is useless. Just tell...

 

Now is the time to build

For a decade or more, our Montana Legislature has grappled with the increasing need to renovate both Romney Hall on the Montana State University campus in Bozeman and the Montana Historical Society museum facility in Helena. A compelling case has...

 

Looking out my Backdoor: Distracted

When our Rancho gardener comes in the morning, Leo often asks me, “Sondrita, how is your wonderful retired life?” “Yes,” I say. We laugh. We both understand my meaning. “Yes, wonderful....

 

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