Letters to the editor Jan. 3

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A change is needed

Thank God a group of Republican legislators have taken the initiative to rid Montana House of Representatives of a 30-year supermajority experiment that has contributed to hyper-partisanship disdained by most of Montana’s citizens. The Montana constitution defines only a few cases when a legislative supermajority vote is needed, for example, before spending trust funds, amending the constitution, or overriding a governor’s veto. Nowhere does the constitution suggest the Legislature should adopt supermajority rules that limit debate and centralize power in the hands of a few. Returning to a simple majority rule for bringing bills to the House floor, the same rule that is in effect in the state Senate, in no way undermines principles upon which our representative democracy was formed, but rather ensures that all voices are heard as the legislature conducts the people’s business.

The 60-vote supermajority rule for removing bills from House committees has in the past allowed a powerful few legislators, who have received “silver bullets” or have made secret deals, to get their bills out of committee. This insider politics needs to end! It is time to bring fair and honest debate back into the process. Time to make the committees do their job instead of simply “killing” bills House leadership doesn’t like. Time to end the secret deals and bring transparency back into the process. Time to go back to the simple majority rule for bringing bills to the floor of the Montana House and ensure all Montanans are represented as promised by our state’s constitution.

—Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-Hamilton

Moral outrage

Of course Mohammed Bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, was the one who ordered the horrific murder of Washington Post reporter (sort of, although I’m not sure his connection to the Muslim Brotherhood makes him a saint) Jamal Khashoogi. Just like Putin ordered the death of dozens of his political opponents. Just like Kim Jong-un ordered the death of his political opponents. How far back do you want to go? Hitler killing 100 of his political opponents on his Night of the Long Knives or Stalin sending 2 million of his enemies to die in work camps in Siberia. Or should we go back to the Senators of the Roman Empire convincing Brutus to kill Caesar. If you want, I can probably go back to one of our ancestors from 20,000 to 2 million years ago and find evidence of similar atrocious murders to eliminate leadership competition.

We can all agree that this was a depraved act and has no place in a civilized society. So my question is: Why all the moral outrage of the press for weeks over the murder of one person when we hear crickets, for example, as Obama lets the Syrian president gas innocent women and children? Duh! Stupid me! Khashoogi was a reporter, one of their own. No wonder they have their knickers in a twist. Now it makes sense.

—David Myerowitz, Columbia Falls

In support of Medicaid expansion

As a local citizen, a fifth-generation Montanan, and also as a professional in the field of behavioral health, I am writing to share my support for Medicaid expansion in Montana.

Why should we support Medicaid expansion? In 2015, mental and behavioral health was determined as a top three concern for residents, as reported in the Flathead Valley Community Health Needs Assessment.

Since then, health-care providers have worked with local nonprofits to increase access to behavioral health, address needs in schools, and work with at-risk populations such as veterans to provide access to mental and behavioral health resources.

What has made the most difference in providing more access is the Medicaid expansion program, which passed in 2015. Now, people who wouldn’t have had access to these resources can, and are, getting the help they need. This allows payment for services provided by the organizations that provide these services and benefits the community overall.

Just in the Flathead County, with Medicaid expansion, providers have treated 2,577 mental health outpatient cases and 364 inpatient cases, according to the DPHHS. We are partnering together on this major issue in Montana – we don’t want to be the state with the highest number of suicides, and it takes a village to change this horrific truth.

I’ve also had the privilege to work with veterans in our state in a mental health capacity. Seeing our honored service members get the healthcare they need – for mental and physical health – through outsourced VA services or Medicaid expansion and get back to a better quality of life makes me feel like we do have the opportunity to thank them for their service.

I support Medicaid expansion because I’ve seen what it can do for our community, our veterans, and our greatest health needs.

­— Deven D. Robinson, Whitefish

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