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State House District 20

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  • Fred Anderson

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    Melissa Smith

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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I believe we have seen the limits of governing by ideology. We have forgotten our commitments to each other, to the environment we all share, and that individual rights come with obligations and responsibilities. We have collectively abandoned the “common good”. Legislators must represent the concerns of all Montanans, not just the concerns of special interests. Without trust in elected leaders, it will be difficult to address the challenges of climate change, adequately fund public education, guarantee justice for all citizens, provide food security, and maintain our infrastructure. Restoring this common good through ethical representation and public programs would benefit all who live and work here, ensuring a thriving Montana.
Clean Energy is our future. Just as Montana is rich in fossil fuels, we are rich in renewable energy sources: solar, wind and water. We must stop burning coal for our electricity needs, and -- most critically -- we must not expand Colstrip with another coal mine. The Legislature working with the private sector can provide the support necessary for retraining workers at Colstrip,helping convert Colstrip into a Clean Energy producer. Conserving water will be crucial as our climate changes. Montana’s agricultural sector is already repairing soil with cover crops and introducing soil carbon conservation practices such as tillage reduction, erosion prevention, and improving water retention of Montana's soil.
Violence against women is prevalent in Montana. Addressing the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis with data management resources was a step in the right direction. Protecting a Woman’s right to choose is critical. Whoever controls a woman’s reproductive choices controls her economic destiny. I believe in making abortion unnecessary, through universal, high-quality sex education and reproductive health services for all women and girls. To address economic inequalities for women, we must also provide resources for family leave, child care and increase flexible work schedules.
Public education is and should be on the top budgeting priorities of the Montana Legislature. To ensure that Montanans have a quality education is a requirement in order to successfully compete for high paying jobs and to be fully participating citizens. The state government should not be funding private schools -- especially since revenues are limited and private schools do not provide access to all citizens. Generating more revenue from our public lands and making sure that fossil fuel companies are paying all of their taxes would help to increase the funding we need for quality public education.
Our communities are neither safe nor thriving. We need to understand that everyone in Montana suffers unless everyone has adequate health care. Collectively ensuring we are all cared for is one way to restore the common good. Medicaid Expansion is a perfect example; I would advocate to extending Medicaid to all Montanans. Montanans have lost faith in our public health officials. Politicizing public health through ideology is almost guaranteed to limit health care choices for our citizens. Food security is also critical. Developing programs to enable local ranches and farms to process their food in Montana for Montanans to eat would address the "nutrition deficit" we see throughout Montana – especially on native reservations.