Representative Matt Rosendale provided his week sixteen summary of the legislature. As of press time, Rosendale was still waiting to hear about the final budgets from the Governor. He expects to have that answer by Tuesday and said “ I know he is receiving tremendous pressure from many groups to amend the budget. I hope that he has the courage and fortitude to base his decision on the long term economic health of our state by utilizing the cost and revenue estimates as provided by the Legislative Fiscal Division.”
Cancer was one of the issues tackled by the legislature this past week. HB 615 has passed 3rd reading and is a study to be taken up during the interim. Rosendale explained the bill will evaluate trial studies for cancer treatment, standard care for cancer treatment, and the interaction of the two. “It seems,” Rosendale said, “that if you have a unique strand of cancer and are a candidate for a trial treatment, your primary health insurance provider may be reluctant to cover the standard care while you are involved in the trial program. The goal of this study is to determine what the standard care would be, and then to establish treatment that the trial study and the standard care provider each would be responsible for. Rosendale commented “Hopefully, this would avoid a battle over the bill while someone is extremely ill and not in any position to be negotiating.”
Under resource development the legislature has approved SB 292 “coal gasification” legislation. This process, which is presently used in several countries, utilizes low grade coal without digging it out of the ground. The actual extraction of this type of coal is cost prohibitive, however, by using the process of gasification, this resource can be developed and the gas products sold for industrial and commercial use.
Several weeks ago state employees gathered on the steps of the Dawson County Courthouse protesting proposed wage freezes. The rally did not change Rosendale’s vote, however he did explain why he voted against state pay raises. HB 13 was the request to raise wages for state employee’s. Rosendale explained that “While I agree that our state employee’s are some of the most dedicated and hard working individuals in the workforce, so are those in the private sector. And many in the private sector have lost their job in the last three years. Many are taking reduced hours or even reduced wages rather than force a company to lay someone off, or worse yet, completely close. As a developer, I can assure you that my income has dropped dramatically over the last three years and so has the income of every builder and contractor that I deal with. Meanwhile, even though their wages have been froze, when you count benefits the average state employee’s total compensation has risen from $58,660 in fiscal 2008 to $61,663 in fiscal 2010 according to the Legislative Fiscal Division. Additionally, the raises would cost the budget approximately $21 million at a time when we are having difficulty providing core services to the most vulnerable in our communities. After giving careful consideration to all of this I have voted against the state pay raises.”
Finally, Rosendale noted concerns about an election bill HB 530. He said he is anxious to hear the rules for implementation for the bill which allows the election board to open mail in ballots the day before the official election. Rosendale said “While I understand the issue of the enormous work load for our election officials on election day, the integrity and privacy of each ballot must be protected. The more hands that these ballots pass through and the more time that transpires between opening and counting, increases the likelihood that there will be a problem.”
Rosendale said that even those this should be the last week of the legislative session, there are still many important bills to come before the legislature and he still would like to hear from area residents about them through the end of the session. Bill comments can be sent to [email protected] or call him at 406-444-4800.