The Billings Outpost

Killing coal

It is clear by now that the federal Environmental Protection Agency intends to destroy the U.S. coal industry.

This summer, the EPA moved towards restricting coal train traffic and now there is the pending 2015 shutdown of the coal-fired PPL Montana Corette Power Plant here in Billings.

As voters we have a responsibility. EPA is a federal agency that reports to, and works at, the direction of the Executive Branch (U.S. president). Either make a change there or make the change in the legislative branch (Congress), which funds the agency. Either approach works.

James E. Reno

Yellowstone County commissioner

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 September 2012 20:10

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Elect Bushman

It is important that we elect Kirk Bushman to the Public Service Commission. Kirk graduated from Billings Central High School, has an engineering degree from Montana State University Bozeman and for many years has worked on team projects locally, across the U.S. and throughout the world.

Kirk’s dad, the late Don Bushman, was a career employee at the Cenex refinery in Laurel. Kirk also worked at the refinery every summer during his college years. His education and background provide a balanced approach to the work of the PSC.

I served eight years on the Billings City Council with his opponent, Mayor Chuck Tooley, and found Chuck to be polite, cordial and easy to work with. However, my experience with our mayor and council was generally limited to watching a group trying to find ways to increase revenue for Billings rather than finding ways to reduce the budget. Looking for ways to increase revenue for the government without regard for the taxpayer is not the experience I want for our commissioner.

In addition, Chuck’s degree is in theater arts, and his energy/environmental work involved former Vice President Gore’s programs. I don’t believe that his education and background would give District 2 consumers the same balanced approach Kirk would provide.

If you elect Kirk Bushman to the Montana PSC, you will have a elected a commissioner who understands the needs of the consumer, has a rational approach to energy development and knows what is needed to protect the environment.

Shirley Girard McDermott

Laurel

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 September 2012 20:08

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Bullock a liberal’s liberal

If Steve Bullock wins the race for governor, it won’t be long until we will wish we had Brian Schweitzer back in the governor’s chair. At least with Brian, you knew every policy revolved around his own self interests regardless of party philosophy.

But Bullock is a liberal’s liberal. He has always supported bigger government since that’s the only job he has ever known. Bullock votes in lockstep with job-killing radical environmentalists and that means no support for oil, gas, coal and all the tax revenues they bring to our state. He fully supports the government takeover of our health care.

My vote will go to Rick Hill, an experienced small businessman and fiscal conservative. He has the ideas we need to get government out of the way so small businesses and entrepreneurs can take our great state in the right direction.

If you want bigger government, higher taxes, more regulations and increased unemployment, Steve Bullock is your man. If you want smaller, more efficient government, lower taxes, less burdensome regulations and more good paying jobs, the only choice in this race is Rick Hill.

Roy Brown

Billings

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 September 2012 20:06

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Voter ID needed

I write to address the vacuous and condescending assertions about voter ID laws made by Attorney General Eric Holder in his recent speech to the NAACP convention and by Cokie and Steve Roberts in a guest editorial published in the Gazette.

They allege that laws requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls on Election Day constitute a “poll tax” and disenfranchise elderly, young, poor and minority voters because members of those groups are less likely to have an acceptable form of identification. They go on to accuse those who support such a law of racism and attempting to suppress the vote.

As former chief elections officer of Montana, I reject these baseless claims. Those who make them have proclaimed themselves the chosen occupiers of the moral high ground while simultaneously engaging in the bigotry of lowered expectations. The absurd accusations of premeditated voter suppression and discrimination are demeaning to the very people these liberal elites supposedly seek to protect.

Mr. Holder and the Roberts paint every elderly, young, poor and minority voter with the same broad brush. In fact, they would have us believe that every member of these demographic groups is fundamentally incapable of meeting even basic societal responsibilities and requirements. The height of their collective arrogance is truly stunning.

Additionally, these three clearly consider themselves much brighter than the vast majority of Americans, given the fact that 72 percent of respondents in a recent Rasmussen poll support having to show photo ID at the polls. And, 73 percent of those polled remain unconvinced that these laws are either a “poll tax” or discriminatory in nature.

The Supreme Court of the United States also agrees with the unwashed masses rather than with our elitist friends. Recently, the court upheld Indiana’s photo ID law in a 6-3 decision. In his opinion for the majority, the liberal Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that requiring photo identification at the polls “does not qualify as a substantial burden on most voters’ right to vote, or represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting.”

In addition, those opposing these laws conveniently ignore their provisions to assist voters who do not have the proper form of identification. The statutes in question all recognize driver’s licenses, passports, military identification cards, and other forms of government-issued ID as acceptable proof of identity. If a voter does not have an acceptable form of ID, the state will provide one free of charge.

Citizen concern is on the rise over increasing incidents of voter fraud coming to light across the country. It is time that we take a prudent and commonsense approach to preserving and enhancing the integrity of Montana’s elections. Montanans take the threat of election fraud very seriously. Our policy makers should do the same.

The goal of these laws is not to suppress the vote or to disenfranchise voters. The goal is to maintain, at the highest level possible, the faith and confidence the voters have in the outcome of our elections. Clearly, that confidence has been shaken when 64 percent of likely voters in the above mentioned Rasmussen poll believe that voter fraud is a serious or somewhat serious problem. The desire to provide Montanans a greater level of assurance that our elections are fair and secure is neither racist nor partisan. It is reasonable, rational and the right thing to do.

Brad Johnson

East Helena

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 September 2012 20:05

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Uncertainty hurts job creators

 

You can’t steal second base with one foot firmly on first—a saying that is as true for business as it is for baseball.

Businesses are either confident enough in their future and the stability of their surroundings to move forward, innovate, hire new employees and grow — or they are plagued with uncertainty, afraid to move forward, and hesitant to risk being faced with some new and unexpected barrier to success.

We all know that certainty, or the lack thereof, governs our day-to-day decisions — it is no different for businesses. But the Obama Administration, government agencies, and even some of our elected officials seem to ignore the impacts that their policy decisions can have on business confidence. Time and again, we’ve seen elected officials like Sen. Tester disregard what is best for businesses and take positions on bills and administrative rules that exacerbate the level of uncertainty for Montana’s job creators.

Recently, the National Labor Relation’s Board, the members of which are appointed by President Obama, passed a rule that will allow for the formation of micro-unions in businesses across the United States. Micro-unions, or multiple small unions that form within a business, can create not only conflict in the workplace, but also place financial strain on small business owners.

While the impacts of micro-unions on business costs and workplace environments are substantial, what’s entirely worse than both is the level of uncertainty that this rule forces on businesses. If a business is unable to reasonably predict fluctuations in major expenses, they will remain bearish in terms of how they approach expansion. By creating uncertainty in overhead cost estimates, micro-unions not only make the budgeting process more difficult, but also affect how willing the firm is to hire new employees, innovate, and grow.

Sen. Tester had the opportunity to vote against the rule allowing micro-unions that was passed by Obama’s National Labor Relations Board, but instead of standing up for Montana’s businesses and speaking out against this rule, Senator Tester has remained silent on the issue. He chose, not to stand by the side of Montana businesses, but to allow the passage of this rule that will make success more uncertain for Montana businesses.

It comes down to success v. stagnation. Certainty v. uncertainty. It’s that simple. And by remaining silent and allowing the rule to be implemented, Sen. Tester is leaving Montana businesses susceptible to all the uncertainties and barriers to success that micro-unions pose. At this point we can only hope that, should the opportunity present itself again, Senator Tester won’t leave Montana’s job creators stuck on first base.

Sen. Bruce Tutvedt

Senate District 3

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 September 2012 12:11

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Bushman for PSC

 

Most are not aware of huge impact the Public Service Commission has on employers and families of Montana. The commission often intervenes at the federal level on energy and telecom policy to protect Montana ratepayers. And the PSC collaborates in regional energy and transmission development worth billions of dollars with rate payers being the final holders of risk.

Commissioner Brad Molnar, brought not only a consumer's view but years of construction/ business experience to the table when the commission wrestled with construction projects ranging from gas-fired plants, wind farms, hydro generation and transmission projects. Molnar is term-limited and his expertise in developing the business case for projects, contract requirements, project oversight, quality control, etc will not be available during the planning stages forcing the commission to rely on the testimony of lobbyists promoting the projects.

That is why it is crucial that Kirk Bushman be elected to replace Molnar. Kirk has a degree in engineering and has developed projects around the world, worked in a team environment to bring projects in on budget, and understands the need to keep the end consumer in mind.

If this is the only seat on the Commission to change this election Kirk will be joining an attorney, a 27-year-old whose first real job is serving on the commission, an environmentalist whose business experience was renting canoes, and an environmentalist/retired school teacher.

Do yourself a favor and elect Kirk Bushman to the Montana PSC.

Arthur Hollowell

Joliet

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 September 2012 12:10

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