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State Senate District 26

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  • Chris Friedel

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    Margie MacDonald

Biographical Information

What are the most important challenges facing our state and how do you propose to address them?

Which solutions to climate change do you think are most important and most feasible for Montana?

What, if any, specific steps will you take to address inequalities facing women, especially women in minority populations, in our state?

What should state government do, if anything, to provide an equitable, quality public education for all children pre-K through grade 12?

What should our state do over the long term to ensure healthcare access for all?

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In the wake of a global pandemic, Montana’s most important challenges will be re-booting what was a remarkably robust economy and keeping our state healthy. Long term, lawmakers also need to rethink how we fund state government in the future. We are living in a very different economy than existed twenty or forty years ago. We rely far less on natural resource industries, while we see considerable expansion in tourism and technology sectors. Historically, these are not areas where we have generated much revenue, except through income taxes, traditional property taxes, and some very limited, targeted tourist taxes. It is time to recalibrate revenue streams to reflect where the economy has moved.
Montana is a place where soil-based carbon sequestration and regenerative agricultural practices could have a significant impact on carbon levels. Carefully stewarding and regenerating our forest lands is also an important tool to cut carbon. While historically fossil fuels have generated much economic activity in Montana, the state also has enormous untapped wind and solar capacity. It is wise to adopt public policies to incentivize low carbon energy technologies, including the smart, demand-sensitive grid to advance clean, cheap, and abundant low carbon energy to power our economy into the future. We also can do more to back up wind energy with pumped hydro storage, thereby allowing us to maximize our robust wind resource.
First, I support and would continue to push for equal pay for equal work. Gov. Steve Bullock’s Equal Pay Task Force ( is a good start and I would advocate to continue to push for these policies. They include adopting systematic paid family leave for workers, salary transparency, broadly available affordable health care that is portable between jobs, affordable child care, universal Pre-K, and monitoring and reporting on progress.
The very first and most urgent public policy need in Montana at this time is universal free pre-K accessible across the state. I would look for strategies to help reduce college students' enormous debt loads, including continuing the practice of freezing tuition. I would not support diverting too-scarce public funds into private schools.
We have to begin by re-affirming medicaid expansion when it expires again in 4 years, and remove any sunset to this essential support for over 100,000 Montanans. We should be looking for ways to build on that foundation and to invest significantly in community based, easily accessed mental health and addiction treatment services. I think there is enormous potential to expand in home services to seniors, to support their caregivers, and community support agencies.