Info for Students » Uncategorized

Democrats launch ‘listening’ tour of businesses for legislative ideas on jobs

HELENA — Democratic state lawmakers Thursday mapped out plansfor a statewide tour to talk with local businesses to gatherjob-creating ideas that can be taken to the 2013 Legislature. “We want to hear their ideas and thoughts on what we can do atthe state level to make things better,” said Rep. Chuck Hunter,D-Helena, appearing at a Helena printing and design business.“(We’ll) turn those ideas into some responsible solutions andlegislative strategy next session.” Hunter and five other legislators were in six locations Thursdayto announce the touring plans, including Billings, Missoula, Helenaand Butte. The actual tour will start next Monday with stops in Billingsand then move on to Miles City, Glendive and Sidney later in theweek. Hunter said lawmakers would then start working their way backwestward across the state, at yet-to-be-determined dates in Januaryand February. While the events are organized by Democratic lawmakers, Huntersaid they’ll be open to anyone, and that he hopes Republicanlawmakers will show up and be part of the discussion. “One of the themes we’re hearing is that people want(policymakers) to work together,” he said. “That’s really a themeand a value that we bring to this whole tour.” Republicans hold majorities in the Montana Legislature, with a68-32 advantage in the House and a 28-22 edge in the Senate. When asked Thursday about the Democrats’ tour, Republican PartyExecutive Director Bowen Greenwood said the GOP would be happy to“work with Democrats to create jobs in Montana by moving theKeystone XL pipeline forward and developing coal, oil and naturalgas resources in Montana.” Keystone XL is a proposed 1,700-mile pipeline that would crossEastern Montana and its oil fields and offer new transportationoutlets for oil produced in Montana. The Obama administration has postponed a decision on thepipeline’s permit until late next year. Montana’s top Democraticofficeholders — Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Sens. Max Baucus and JonTester — have said they support the pipeline. Hunter said being in the minority party in the 2013 Legislaturewon’t stop him or other Democrats from pursuing ideas developed bythe listening sessions with businesses. “If you’re in the minority, you can still have good ideas,” hesaid. “Democrats certainly passed bills in the last session.” Toni Broadbent, co-owner of Allegra Marketing Print and Web,which hosted Hunter’s appearance in Helena, said Thursday that shethinks businesses are looking for consistent policy so they canplan ahead over several years. She noted that many corporations have plenty of cash but aren’tinvesting it because they’re unsure which way general tax,regulatory and other policies are going to go. Hunter said Democrats expect to hear a range of ideas frombusinesses and their workers on several subjects, from housing tojob training and education to tax and regulatory policy. What they hear may be developed into campaign material forDemocrats in the 2012 election, but Hunter said that’s not thepriority of the tour. “I really see it as something that we could bring to the nextsession,” he said. “I think doing our homework in advance, comingto the session, with an organized set of ideas of things that we’dlike to accomplish, is what we hope to bring.”

Comments are closed.