Letters to the Editor

Court works with
Legislature against Constitution

Dear Editor,
In 2010 the Montana Alberta Tie Line, a proposed business to transport electricity from Great Falls to Alberta, filed a complaint for condemnation against a landowner for right of way for their proposed electric transmission line. It was denied by the Ninth Judicial District Court on Dec. 12, 2010, saying, “MATL does not possess the power of eminent domain.”
During the 62nd Legislature, in 2011, HB 198 was passed, while the above District Court decision was being appealed. After the Legislature was finished, the Supreme Court, on June 7, 2011 reversed the order of the District Court. From the court order: “The explicit language of HB 198 conflicts with the District Court’s order. The District Court concluded there was no support for MATL’s contention that a “private merchant transmission line, without express or implied authority for condemnation may pursue eminent domain proceedings by virtue of its establishing an enumerated use set forth in 70-30-102, MCA.”
As MATL correctly points out, HB 198 now expressly provides such authority. Furthermore, the District Court noted that the Major Facility Siting Act, Title 75, Chapter 20, did not include “any provision granting eminent domain authority.” However, HB 198 now explicitly codifies eminent domain authority into the Major Facility Siting Act.
In this discussion, to the layman, it seems the Supreme Court has showed the Legislative part of government how to change the meaning of the Constitution, without amending it.
Our Constitution in Article III, General Government, Section 1, Separation of powers: The power of the government of this state is divided into three distinct branches – legislative, executive and judicial. During the passage of HB 198, there was considerable media discussion that the Legislature was trying to prepare a bill that would be acceptable to the Supreme Court. In this instance I would consider the Legislature and the Court as a combined organization.
Jim Paugh
Coffee Creek

Funding cuts will impact nursing
services for disabled children

Dear Editor,
The Montana state legislature is proposing to cut almost $100 million from Medicaid healthcare services. A majority of these cuts will impact essential personal care services for our fellow Montanans who are elderly or low-income adults, and children with disabilities.
The Department of Public Health and Human Services and the Governor’s office are supporting cuts to these services, basing their decision on unspent service dollars in 2016, which appear to be “excess.”
What DPHHS is failing to consider is the staggering number of Medicaid recipients not receiving care because Medicaid reimbursement rates and wages for direct care workers are so low it isn’t possible to hire nurses and caregivers. This leaves hundreds of children and adults who are authorized for services not receiving care; leaving funding unspent.
The legislature also recently voted not to fund Direct Care Worker wages. The failure to provide adequate and necessary funding for nursing and care-giving wages means we have tens of thousands of hours of unstaffed nursing shifts across the state. Not only do we have a 43 percent turnover in our nursing staff, a minimum of 10 additional full-time nursing staff would be required to fill the hours which have been authorized by the state to care for those in need.
While we will continue to provide services to the best of our ability within these funding and staffing constraints, we fear further funding restrictions will mean we cannot continue to provide the level or amount of nursing services required by children with disabilities in our state.
Consumer Direct Care Network was started in Montana in 1990 and has since expanded to 14 states across the U.S., providing Medicaid and Medicare services. Nowhere else in our network do we find the staffing shortages as egregious as here in Montana. We are committed to our home state, our employees here, and the caregivers and participants we serve.
Please contact your legislators today. Urge them to support increased DCW wages and vote against the Medicaid budget cuts proposed in HB 2.
Montana Legislative Website: http://leg.mt.gov/css/find%20a%20legislator.asp
Bill Woody
Owner, Consumer Direct Care Network
Missoula

Give us a real,
qualified Montanan

Dear Editor,
The snake has raised his ugly head again. We felt we had rid our wonderful state of this carpetbagger when he ran for governor. Now Greg Gianforte wants to go to Congress. Please. Give us a break. This (in my opinion) dishonest outsider is not a Montanan, never has been.
What reason do we have for giving him not only a cushy job in Washington D.C., but to let this dreadful person – who calls himself a Montanan – have a right to represent our precious state. We know there are many real persons, qualified Montanans, to fill this position. We really do not want to vote Democratic, but we will do anything to remove Gianforte from our state.
Where has our pride of Montana gone that anyone can walk in, call themselves wonderful and a Montanan; then be rewarded? If Gianforte were so all-fired interested in our Montana, he would stay in this state and work his fingers to the bone to prove himself. He has to know he can never be a Montanan. We have said many times, his interest lies in his self-promotion and, by association, Daines is treading on thin ice.
Stop this nonsense and give us a real, qualified, Montana-born Republican who will protect and go forward with this position in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Janice N. Thaxter
Lewistown

Lock up the abuser;
don’t destroy families

Dear Editor,
In response to Tim Fox:
Get the religion evaluation out of the schools. Suicide and drug abuse would drop. So stop putting the abused in foster care or prison – same thing. In some cases, they get raped, molested and abused worse. So lock the abuser up – stop destroying the family. There are grandpas and grandmas, aunts, uncles that would gladly take them in.
You might want to read the Ten Commandments.
Dennis Cosner
Lewistown

Zinke promises to
remember his Montana roots

Dear Editor,
Today it is with a heavy but optimistic heart that I resign from my position as the Congressman for Montana. I’m resigning not because I do not wish to serve Montana, but rather it is to accept the role of Secretary of the Department of the Interior and serve Montana at a higher level.
First, I want to say thank you to the people of Montana. It has been an honor to serve you in Congress, and I appreciate the faith and trust you put in me to represent your values, interests, and priorities. It was my privilege to sit at your kitchen tables and in your schools to talk about problems we face and the solutions to tackle those issues. Perhaps no issues were more important to me personally than looking out for our troops, respecting sovereignty of the Tribes and maintaining access to our public lands.
As your Congressman, I always looked to you for guidance and it was with your resounding support that I actively fought to keep our public lands public. I consistently bucked party leadership and voiced my opinions loud and clear in the House Committee on Natural Resources, and I voted at every turn to oppose the sale and transfer of our public lands. I assure you that I will continue fighting for our public lands as I serve Montana and the American people in the Department of the Interior.
Soon I will take my fourth oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I am humbled that President Trump has given me the opportunity to continue my service to our great nation. However, I also promise that I will not be a stranger to Montana. I will always remember my roots. And I hope to continue hearing from Montanans.
Thank you again for your faith in me and God bless.
Ryan Zinke (Montana)
Washington, D.C.

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