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Democrat listening tour stops in Ronan

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RONAN — State legislators are on a Legislative Listening Tour led by Democrats to hear from all Montanans. They stopped in Ronan with 11,086 miles traveled, so far, after beginning their tour in Great Falls.

On Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 6 p.m. the Ronan Mission Valley Senior Center filled with local community members who were all there to speak to and hear from legislators about the upcoming election. 

Community member Allen Matt said, “I know Montana is a red state but I wish the red and blue could come together to work together toward making Montana better.” His statement was met with applause from everyone attending the event.

Senate Democratic Whip Susan Webber (D-Browning), Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Committee Mary Caferro (D-Helena) and Sen. Shane A. Morigeau (D-Missoula) were all in attendance.

Reauthorizing Medicaid expansion in Montana was on the agenda as a hot topic for discussion. Caferro said, “In 2016, the adult uninsured rate was cut in half and a large number of members were college students with another large group being family members who are taking care of someone with disabilities or Alzheimers.” She added, “For the people who say people are sitting on their couch and eating lobster and doing nothing, if you see one of those people ask them how they are affording it because most of them are working.” 

Public schools were also on the agenda. Two school-based bills are currently being challenged. Community member Shirley Azzopardi said, “The big ones are the charter school bill and the other one is the special education bill. It says that families would be allowed to use money that would normally be used for the district special education fund to pay for private school.” 

The topic of special education did get some discussion from the crowd. One community member said, “Special education students have no protection in private schools while the government makes rules.”

The public continued to share opinions on a variety of topics with some becoming more heated than others. Once the meeting was over, legislators spent time talking to individuals before heading out to their next destination. 

Caferro thanked everyone for coming out and supporting the event.


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