Keeping My Word
In my opinion, my greatest legislative accomplishment has been, with the best of my ability, to keep my campaign promises. My foremost goal has been to enter our State Capitol and do what I said I was going to do! Often times while encountering difficult legislation, I have had to reference back to my platform and principles I ran on and I have had to make some very difficult votes. I have had to ask myself ” what did I tell my constituents”. There often is a lot of pressure, but I can honestly say I can look myself in the mirror and know without a doubt I have kept my integrity!
Opposing Tax/Fee increases, and Protecting Private Property Rights
Unfortunately the way government functions is to over spend and then run into budget shortfalls. The greedy nature of government then looks back to the taxpayer to fill that financial void. This happened in Montana between the 2015 and 2017 regular legislative sessions. During the 2017 session over $260 million in tax increases were proposed. I did not support these tax increases but I did support a reduction in wasteful government spending.
We understand that one of the major foundations of freedom is the right for every individual to own private property. This can be anything from your cell phone to a car or your family ranch. According to Montana Property Owners Association, out of 150 legislators, I scored in the top five for protecting our property rights!
Public Land Access and Recreational Opportunities
Working towards increasing access to Montana’s “Land locked” public Lands. In my first session I carried, sponsored, and passed with almost unanimous support the “Unlocking Public Lands Program”. A program that had been designed to bring landowners and the public together to increase public land access through private property by incentivizing landowners to establish access points. This program can also be used to establish access points through the corners of checker boarded public land. By protecting the landowners choice and private property rights, this program establishes good relationships between these landowners and the public. My bill expanded this program to include federal public lands in which the majority of land locked public land consists of.
I also sponsored, carried, and passed a bill designed to increase recreational opportunities on state managed public lands. Our Montana Constitution mandates that our State School Trust Lands be managed first and foremost to raise revenue for our schools. Because of this, management for recreational opportunities on these lands often falls in second place. My legislation, served to identify areas where recreational allowances and opportunities on these lands could be improved upon. This legislation moved through the legislature with over 90% support.
In addition to these two bills I also supported the PLAN (Public Lands Access Network), a bill carried by a Republican lawmaker from eastern Montana. This program serves to collect contributions from individuals/organizations who believe in increasing access to public lands. The money collected in this program will be use to purchase easements, land, or land consolidation, and with an emphasis on access to lands that are completely surrounded by private. Shortly after this program passed, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation contributed $25,000 kick starting the program into high gear!
For more information on Jedediah’s Pro Public Land Record go to:
Protecting Our Children from Sexual Predators
Based on a suggestion from a concerned constituent I met while knocking doors during the 2014 campaign, I went to the legislature with the intention to pass legislation that would prohibit certain past high-level sex offenders from taking up residence in close proximity to schools and daycare facilities. While researching this subject and state law, I found a previous, but failed attempt at this legislation. Working with a member of the House of Representatives, I co-sponsored, carried this legislation on the Senate floor, and we moved it successfully though the Legislature. Now state law prohibits certain high level and “violent” sex offenders from taking up residence near to these child focused facilities.
Keeping Energy Costs Low
Previous to the 2017 legislative session, Montana’s largest public utility (who serves Gallatin Valley), had a special carve-out in state law that allowed them to pass on 100% of electric supply costs directly onto the consumer (you)!! Other smaller pubic utilities around the state have to shoulder at least some of these electric supply costs in a 90%/10% split. This means they cannot just simply pass all the high priced energy onto the consumer.
During the 2017 session a bill was carried by a Democrat lawmaker in the House of Representatives that basically ended this special carve-out and would require Gallatin Valley’s public utility to shoulder some of these costs before passing onto the consumer. This bill had passed the House but was tabled in the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee.
I personally had an interest in this bill to protect consumers from overbearing and ever-increasing energy costs, I worked to bring both Republicans and Democrats together. Having accomplished that task by garnering just enough support, I blasted the bill out of committee (pulled the bill out of committee to the Senate floor for an official vote), we passed it in the Senate and sent it to the Governor for a signing!!
Clarifying Vague Laws
In the 2017 session, I sponsored and carried a bill, in what’s purpose, was to clarify a vague law concerning hunting from a vehicle. The current law simply said that a person could not “Hunt from a vehicle”. However state law defined “hunting” as “shooting, pursuing, or the act of possessing a weapon”. This means that virtually every hunter in the state was technically illegal if their vehicle traveled to or through their hunting area with a weapon!!, Without changing the definition of hunting, my bill made allowances for a person to drive to or through an area, to spot game, and actually be legal!!
Additionally, game wardens in different regions were interpreting that law in different ways leading to unfair citations. Some Game wardens believed that a person could not be touching a vehicle while shooting, other game wardens taught hunters that as long as they had one foot outside the vehicle they were legal to shoot even though they may be touching the vehicle. Because there were so many different interpretations, my bill clarified and set a standard that both the hunter, and law enforcement could understand, making the law truly enforceable. Game wardens and hunters alike supported the bill, and it passed both legislative chambers with significant support!
This bill also kept intact the current law that prohibits shooting from any publicly maintained roadway, public right-of-way, or borrow ditch.
Creating the Montana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus
Believe it or not, out of 50 States, Montana was one of only three states that did not currently have a legislative sportsmen’s caucus. During the 2017 session, I was approached by Senate leadership and wildlife organizations to create a sportsmen’s/women’s caucus for our Montana legislature. This caucus was to be a bi-partisan caucus with co-chairs consisting of both parties and both legislative chambers, with a focus on advocating for and supporting legislation that enhances and protects our sporting heritage . The caucus has been up and running and we are currently refining it to have a smooth run during the 2019 session.