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Senator Jeff Welborn’s Weekly Report

This past Monday, in a joint session of the Montana House and Senate, we

heard from Montana’s congressional delegates when they all came to speak about their

individual work in Congress and the work they’d like to see in the statehouse.

Montana’s senior Senator, Jon Tester, the lone Democrat in the delegation,

spoke first about the state’s $2.5 billion budget surplus. He urged legislators to

use some of it to address Montana’s lack of affordable housing and child care.

Republican Sen. Steve Daines in his speech called on we as state lawmakers to

protect what he called Montana’s way of life, manage our forests, and pointed to

his recent suspension from, Twitter as evidence that it’s at risk. Daines' account

was suspended when he posted a hunting photo. My take away here was more

of a National perspective, but agree we must protect our privacy, our

constitutional rights, and do a better job of managing our forests and public


Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke is representing the state’s newly added western

district. He said it’s important for Congress to balance the federal government’s

budget and review what’s considered mandatory spending. Congressman Zinke

said, “We’re going to go bankrupt, quickly, and there won’t be social security, there

won’t be money for defense, there won’t be money for our parks and services.

So it’s time to act."

I agree.

Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale, from Montana’s eastern U.S. House seat,

spoke mostly about being among a handful of holdout votes, among hardline

conservative representatives, contesting the election of Speaker of the House

Kevin McCarthy. Congressman Rosedale, in his speech mentioned how the

faction forced change in how Congress operates, and that it was only possible

given the tight majority Republicans hold. Time will tell if his was a productive


All of the Federal delegates applauded the work of Montana’s Citizen

Legislature, and asked that we work together to solve the state’s challenges. I

also support that approach.

Now a little bit about on what we are accomplishing leading up to our transmittal

break. We worked several twelve or more hour days this past week, hearing

literally hundreds of bills across all committees in the Senate, on a host of issues

from water policy, land use, our housing crisis, and how to send some of the

budget surplus back to the people in form of tax cuts and direct rebates.

We also had some robust discussions in our Agriculture Committee on board

appointments by the Governors office, that have yet to be confirmed by the full

Senate. Lastly we continue to take action on setting the budget, and approving

the spending of State Government. It seems like there are lots of opinions in

best way to proceed, but I feel the best work gets done when all points are

considered. There is an undertone that Democrats have teamed up with ultra

conservative wing of the Republican caucus. This is causing concern with some

moderate voices in both the House and Senate, as well as the Governor's


As someone that fits somewhere in the middle of my own caucus. I feel like i'm

in a small group of free agents, that can help bring folks together, time will tell.

I feel most Montanans would agree that budget negotiations should be about

being inclusive, transparent, discussing other's ideas, and most importantly,

sharing a vision for the end game with all stakeholders.

That simply hasn't happened, and rather than pointing fingers, I'm asking all

stakeholders to take a deep breath, there are plenty of good ideas to go around,

if we all work together.

In closing, i'd like to thank the Big Hole business community for hosting their

annual skijoring event, Marni and I drove out on Sunday, and enjoyed an

awesome Montana kind of day.

Thanks for staying in touch on issues important to you.

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