Billings Democrat Lynda Moss sat down with the Daily Inter Lake recently to discuss her campaign for Montana’s Congressional Seat.
Moss, 68, represented her hometown’s Senate District 26 from 2005 to 2011, serving as Majority Whip during the 2007 legislative session. She also has decades of experience in the nonprofit and consulting sectors working on conservation, Native American issues and cultural preservation.
“My work within public policy has always based on seeking common ground,” she said. “That’s what we need in Congress now.”
Discussing a wide range of issues facing the Treasure State, Moss placed less emphasis on specific policy solutions and more on the need to back local groups working on these problems.
“With my background in the nonprofit world, in philanthropy and in policy, I will make sure that Montana communities work from the grassroots up...I believe that Montana has an opportunity to work on positive solutions to community change.”
She cast the much-debated Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes water compact as one such solution, saying she would back its Congressional ratification. “The collaborations that enabled that to pass are remarkable, and we need to honor that work and make sure that we recognize that at a federal level.”
Moss took a similar stance towards managing Northwest Montana’s forests — and contrasted herself with Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., on the topic.
Montana’s current Congressman has blasted litigation by some environmental groups for halting National Forest projects and leaving more fuel for wildfires. He’s called for changing the Equal Access to Justice Act, which reimburses the legal costs of individuals and groups who successfully sue the government.
That would be a mistake, Moss warned. “That federal law, Equal Access to Justice, also helps Chambers of Commerce, it also impacts other nonprofits. It’s not just environmental organizations that utilize that law for their work.” Gianforte’s rhetoric toward environmental groups, she continued, was disrespectful of nonprofits’ work to mitigate fires.
She added that Washington needs to be ready to support these groups when the fires start. Noting the U.S. Forest Service’s funding challenges, Moss said “It’s really important that we work with our federal agencies at that federal level to make sure that they have the resources that they need.”
On health care, Moss sees a better system beginning locally. Her campaign website calls for universal health care, but she clarified during her interview that this is an “aspirational goal.”
“We will get there through increments,” she said. Improving health care, in her view, requires improving access to primary care, negotiating drug prices and creating an “ample pipeline of physicians in primary care.”
Bolstering those areas, Moss predicted, would require “health care professionals working with communities, working with foundations like the Montana Health Care Foundation, to figure out solutions.”
To connect with these groups, Moss would, if elected, create a “community action network,” assigning one or two staffers to work on planning and problem-solving with communities, at their invitation.
She favors a more centralized approach to some issues. While the Trump administration’s recent infrastructure proposal would rely heavily on state, local and private funding, Moss argued that in Montana, “We don’t have the tax base to support the repairs of the infrastructure and highways and bridges...It is the role of the federal government to provide the funding for those infrastructure facilities.”
Moss also backs stricter gun laws, proudly pointing to the “F” she received from the National Rifle Association while in the legislature, and recommending several measures – raising the age for purchasing automatic repeating rifles to 21, protecting schools without arming teachers, improving access to mental health care, banning “bump stocks” and storing guns more securely – as potential salves for gun violence.
“I’m willing to stand in Congress and speak on the behalf of 16-year-old teenagers who are concerned about their safety,” she said.
These stances will be on the ballot in the June 5 Democratic primary, where Moss faces Grant Kier, Jared Pettinato, Kathleen Williams, John Meyer and John Heenan. The winner will face Gianforte in November.
If voters choose her from these many options, Moss pledged “to move beyond ideology and find common ground where we can work together...I will do that as Montana’s Congresswoman.”
Reporter Patrick Reilly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 758-4407.