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Moderates provide success at Legislature

Frequently, any legislative session is compared to a chess match. There are a huge number of moving parts. There are numerous players, with skill levels ranging from master to no skills at all. The challenge isn't so much whether one party or the other can secure checkmate against the other, but that the elusive goal of finishing our business within the allotted 90 days, balancing the budget and making sure that the services provided by government are done with value to the taxpayers who foot the bills.

Sen. Greg Jergeson

It has often been my observation that for a multi-member decision making body such as a legislature to be effective there needs to emerge an essential center in the institution. That center needs to be made up of moderates from both parties who are equipped to lead, who are unafraid to challenge the those operating on the outer fringe of their respective parties, and who can work past all the sudden emergencies and surprises to maintain a strong relationship across the aisle.

This session, that essential center has emerged. From our great success in passing a good school funding bill, SB 175, to passing a balanced budget, HB 2, to fixing the retirement systems, HB 377 and HB 454, it has been that group of moderates who have achieved real solutions to some pretty vexing problems.

To be sure, the radicals and the demagogues are not at all happy about this emergence of the moderate center in this session. Even though there are only a very few days left in this session, I expect attempts from the radicals to wreck the session. It will be up to us in the center to hold the line and complete the session properly.

As always, I'm interested in listening to your thoughts and ideas on the legislative process. Your input ensures that citizens continue to run our democracy. Please email me online at, call me at 406-444-4800, or write me at Montana State Senate, PO Box 200500, Helena, MT 59620.

Thanks for reading — until next time.

(State Sen. Greg Jergeson from Chinook represents SD 17, which includes Hill and Blaine counties. During his 31 years of service as a state senator and public service commissioner, Jergeson has served north-central and northeastern Montana, including Liberty, Hill, Chouteau and Blaine counties. He'll be sending a weekly "Hello from Helena" update to keep the Hi-Line informed.)


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