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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....

 

Bill fills need for hazardous material spill task force

I’ve been enjoying the recent patch of typical sub-zero Montana winter weather. The colder the snow, the easier it is to shovel. It was lucky that Rocky Creek was frozen over when 39 train cars derailed last week, dumping over 4000 pounds of coal...

 

Legislature finishes Week 5

This week was a wild one with a couple of committee meeting running over 3 ½ hours, needing to be cut short, and then finished at the next meeting. In my Energy Committee, bills that were closely related, often called companion bills, came to the co...

 
 By Pam Burke    Opinion    February 8, 2019

View from the North 40: Separation of church and insurance is the real issue

When I was in high school we lived in a house that had a metal-covered gambrel roof — aka barn roof — with a shallow slope from the peak to the first angle and a steeper slope to the eve which was actually an 8-foot deep porch roof that was at a...

 

Looking out my Backdoor: Be happy, don't worry

Yes, I know, the song says “don’t worry, be happy” and I reversed the order. Which comes first, chicken or egg, or does it matter and who cares? What I noticed is that when I am happy, I tend...

 

Legislature finishes week four

We finished up the month of January and the fourth week of the 66th legislative session. This week, one of the things we worked on in Tax Committee was extending the qualified endowment tax credit program. This tax credit has been in place for a...

 
 By Pam Burke    Opinion    February 1, 2019

View from the North 40: That weed is some bad sh-tuff

While the whole country is debating the mary jane, ganja, dank, 420 issue of legalizing marijuana, I’m obsessing over weed of the noxious list kind. I know. I wrote about noxious weeds sometime in the last year or two. I swear I had every...

 

Looking out my Back Door: Tequila, pole dancing and more tequila

Yesterday John and Carol, Leo, our gardener, and I took a trip up to the top of the sacred Mountain, Volcan de Tequila. Tequila Mountain dominates a huge section of Jalisco, can be seen from...

 

Increase access to care

It is no secret that Montana has the highest rate of suicide in the country. Compounding this crisis, Montana has a critical shortage of mental health services that has been well documented for the past ten years. At least 68 new psychiatrists would...

 

It's not safe to be an Indian woman in Montana

These words come as no surprise to many of us. It is our lived experience that Native American women are more likely to go missing, more likely to be murdered, and less likely to have justice in our state. It is our lived experience that when we...

 

Week 3 at the Legislature

The 66th Legislature Senate Tax Committee saw 10 Senate bills coming forth this week and no House bills have crossed yet in any of my committees. We did review a controversial bill, SB 96, that would put vapes — e-cigarettes — in the category...

 
 By Pam Burke    Opinion    January 25, 2019

View from the North 40: Right hand doesn't care what the left is doing

Yes, 40 years is a long time to hold a grudge, but I think it’s safe to say, now, that my whole brain can let the resentment go, thanks to some German researchers and a small herd of horses. In 1979 an art teacher named Betty Edwards wrote a book...

 

Looking out my Backdoor: Merry Christmas in January

Dear Lee and Roy, Imagine my surprise when Leo handed me mail this morning. He climbs the stairs at the Mercado every Monday morning to check my mail box. I suspect the real reason Leo checks mail...

 

Legislature hearing bills in 66th session

Snow is starting to fall, cattle are being fed and the Legislature is back in Helena for the 66th Legislative Session. This session 58 Republicans and 42 Democrats have pulled up stakes and moved to Montana’s capitol for the next approximately...

 

Bills seem to be moving slower this legislative session

As week two of the 66th Legislature progressed, the feeling I had was that bills seem to be moving slower than last session. My thought was that maybe I was not seeing the big picture, but visiting with other legislators, it seems we all feel the...

 

Montana House finishes second week

With the second week of the Montana Legislature in the books I would like to give you an update on some accomplishments that were made in the House. At this point, more bills are starting to pass out of committees to be discussed on the floor of the...

 
 By Pam Burke    Opinion    January 18, 2019

View from the North 40: Where's wall dough?

The other day I was presented this mind-bending analogy by someone attempting to put the government shutdown and border wall into perspective: “Trump is asking for $5.7 billion out of an annual budget of $4.407 trillion … In other words, Trump...

 

Looking out my Backdoor: Oh, for pity's sake!

Those words came out of my mouth with full exclamation stop. And nobody near with ears to hear. Among other things in this mysterious and strange aging process, things like talking with myself, I...

 

Bill would lower the cost of medication in Montana

Everyone agrees that the high cost of prescription medications is a huge issue, but there hasn’t been a serious attempt to solve the problem in Montana. We’re changing that by bringing forward legislation we estimate will save Montanans about $8...

 

Legislature needs to roll up sleeves and work across the aisle

The 66th Montana Legislative Session began Jan. 7 and, based on the 3,101 bills that have been submitted so far, lawmakers will be working in overdrive. For Democrats, top priorities include keeping health care accessible for all Montanans, promoting...

 

Starting work as a senior freshman legislator

It is strange, after serving 14 years, to be a “freshman” representative in the House. However, as a “senior” freshman, I chair Joint Education Finance and vice-chair Full Appropriations. These familiar committees are where I held leadership...

 

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