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April 15, 2015     Sidney Herald
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April 15, 2015
 

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SIDNEY HERALD -1 Around our area WEDNESDAY, APRIL15, 2015 5A Lawmakers advance Medicaid expansion, new state budget BY MICHAEL WRIGHT Bullock said the bill didn't COMMUNITY NEWS SERVICE, UM SCHOOL OF JOURNAUSM After wrangling over rules, the last remaining bill to expand Medicaid at the 64th Montana Legislature appears to be headed to the governor's desk. Senate Bill 405, sponsored by Sen. Ed Buttrey, R-Great Falls, expands Medicaid to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal pov- erty level. It accepts federal money available under the Affordable Care Act, asks some on Medicaid to pay premiums for their cover- age and creates job training programs for recipients through the Department of Labor. A House committee heard the bill early in the week and gave it a "do not pass" recommendation, meaning it couldn't be debated on the floor unless 60 representa- tives voted to do so. House Minority Leader Chuck Hunter, D-Helena, objected to that on the House floor, saying the bill was'one of their "silver bullets," refer- ring to a dealcut at the be- ginning of the session that gave Democrats six chances to bring bills to the House floor with 51 votes. Hunter sent a letter to House Speaker Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, before the bill's hearing that designated it as one of their "silver bullets," and Hunter argued that because of the letter, the "do not pass" report was improper. That led to a two-day rules fight that ended up going Hunter's way. A simple majority vote blasted the bill to the House Floor with support from Democrats and moderate Republicans. A long debate similar to the one seen at every stage of the battle ensued. Supporters of Medicaid expansion said the bill would provide much needed coverage, offer the poorest Montanans help in getting out of poverty and keep rural hospitals open by reducing uncompensated care costs. Rep. Frank Garner, R- Kalispell, said he supports the bill because it can help people get out of poverty, and incentivizes people to work harder. He added the bill covers important groups of people, including veterans. "I think this is the one chance we have to try to help them," Garner said. Opponents argued it will cover "able-bodied childless adults" and gives them ac- cess to care over those who are supposed to be on Medic- aid, the poorest of the poor. "This is a tragedy espe- cially for the disabled poor," Rep. Nancy Ballance, R- Hamilton, said. "But also for the working poor. This bill is facilitating their depen- dence on government." The bill passed 54-42. It will now head to the gover- nor's desk. Celebrating 90Years in Business Home ot 406.433.2305 Shops at Fox Run (404 N. Central Ave Sidney) www.ReynoldsMarket.com f ~gi~ BULLOCK VETOES ANOTHER TAX CUT Gov. Bullock handed down another veto on a tax cut bill last week. Last Thursday, shortly after the full House en- dorsed Medicaid expa~lsion, Bullock's office announced his veto of Senate Bill 200, which would have cut taxes by almost$80 million over the next two years. Knudsen issued a state- ment after the veto an- nouncement, calling the governor "disingenuous" for not signing the bill, which Knudsen said gave significant tax relief to the middle class. In the statement, Knud- sen added the governor has shown he "does not want to provide any relief to the hardworking men and women across this state" and only wants to "grow government and increase spending." Flavored Popcorn Popcorn Balls ,;! Towers Gift Bags Baskets provide relief proportion- ally to taxpayers. "The majority of it would have gone to the largest wage earners in the state," Bullock said. Bullock also said that after the 2013 session, he had to veto $150 million of spend- ing to make sure the budget was structurally balanced, and that he didn't want to do that again. The money for a tax cut would come out of the general fund revenue. The bill, carried by Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, cleared both Houses in March on largely party line votes. SENATE PASSES INCREASED BUDGET After adding more than $20 million in spending, the Senate passed House Bill 2, the state budget. The bill lines out al~out $4 billion in general fund spending over the next Dance two years. With the Sen- ate amendments, it spends Mikayla about $23 million more than the version passed by the Hot se last month. Both senators and the governor said the budget had been much improved by the Senate. '?~ have a tendency to parent "The bill has moved itself -~ ~:~ other people s children. I toward a better condition like to think it's because RILL VANDER WEELE I SIDNEY HERALD competition Sparks, left, and Audrey Burman perform during the dance competition held at Sidney High School Saturday and Sunday. at every stage of the jour- I was raised in a southern ney," said Sen. Llew Jones, home where things ran ac- R-Conrad, the chair of the cording to tradition. Senate Finance and Claims As the oldest girl child and Committee that added most grandchild in the family, I of the spending increases, was tasked with the job of "Improvements were cer- being "second mom." I was tainly made on the Senate the fill in for when mom/ side," Bullock said. But, he nanny's eyes weren't avail- added there were still more able. It was expected that things he'd like to see added I "keep an eye.out" for the to the bill. youngsters whenever I was One of the parts of his around. Luckily, my mother- budget proposal that hasn't ing instinct was honed to a been funded is the $37 mil- razor sharp edge after the lion for "Early Edge," the birth of my brother. He was plan to expand preschool, trouble from the get go. The program would be col- Three cowlicks at the untary for both schools and crown of his head gave him students, a wild shock of bright white Sen. Brad Hamlett, D-Cas- blond hair that would be cade, triedone amendmenthis trademark for years. I to fully fund the program, could easily pick him out of saying full discussion on the a crowd when he turned and program hadn't happened bolted away from me. I re- yet. ally don't think my mother "This is a priority withhas any idea of how many the administration," Ham- times I lost him over the lett said. "And we need to years. Lean and fast, ihat have the discussion." little guy could truck! Jones, who led the sub- He was given his first committee that handled the tricycle and forget track. I education portion of thespent all my time chasing budget, opposed the amend- behind him. He was reckless ment, saying it wasn't prov- to the max. Frequently tak- en to be completely effective ing corners on two wheels, and mostly helps "at-risk" crashing into parked cars students and larger school and even at times trying to districts, jump the ditch. A hug and a He said it would be hardBand-Aid fixed the tears but for rural school districts to nothing would break that hire accredited preschool wild spirit. teachers. Ditches in the South are "I am not a supporter ofbig and deep, which means this version of Early Edge," it was the perfect place to Jones said. swim and frolic out of the The amendment failed sun. Who needed a town along party lines 29-21.pool? Those ditches were Hamlett brought a secondalso filled with frogs and amendment that would crawfish a plenty. have partially funded the It was one hot day and I program, which also failed was supervising him and along party lines, his gallon ice cream bucket In addition to the $23 mil- as he "fished" in the big lion added to the 2016-2017 ditches outside our high budget, a Senate committee also added about $24 mil- lion to cover deficits in the 2014-2015 budget, usually included in a different bill that 'was killed by the House last month. That money will prevent furloughs in some state offices and budget shortfalls for schools. The bill will now go to a House and Senate confer- ence committee to hammer out final details before it's sent to the governor. Michael Wright is a reporter for the Community News Service at the Universily of Montana School of Journalism. He can be reached at michael.wrigh umontana.edu. Chiropractic Physician Cert~ied Medical Exa'niner 222 2nd Ave. SW, Sidney 433-4757 Toll Free 1-866-433-4757 Open Mon,-Fri. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Accidental parenting school foot- ball stadium. Barefoot, blond hair blowing in the wind, his frustration at not catching Outside anything made him living in careless in his footing. ' Kolynn Brazed I wasn't fast enough to grab his arm to prevent the full facedown fall into the mhrky water. When I snatched him up, it was all I could do to not scream. There hanging from his little nose was a tiny little claw. Completely oblivious to the fact that his face was now hosting a live creature, he screamed when I squeezed his nose hard and yanked that little crayfish out. Then there was the time he was stuck between two aisles inside the grocery store. The huge display cas- es that are pushed back to back to hold grocery items apparently have access areas at the ends. I know this because chasing him through the grocery store, I was completely frustrated to not see him anywhere. Then suddenly directly behind the Best Food's Mayo came his little taunting voice. He ran down through the vinegars and oils before stopping at the barbecue sauces before I was able to flag down a store employee to assist me in removing him from the inner-workings of the aisle. My mothe thought we were in the bathroom. He hated regular food. He tried to exist solely on chick- en nuggets and peas for years. Peas were only eaten after they were .mixed with a healthy (gag) helping of '1 really don't think my mother has any idea of how many times I lost him over the years. Lean and fast, that little guy could truck!' Kalynn Brazed Columnist i i i ii iiiiiiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiii mayo and hot sauce (yeah as a toddler) and his preferred bowl was an empty whipped cream container that never seemed to get thrown away. My mother would often come home from work to find him eating from that bowl, dressed in his super- man underwear with a towel tired around his neck Z L 71117 i " [] as a cape watching TV. She would smile and ruffle that hair, then pass me a treat for being a good big sister. He was stubborn, free- willed and a big blessing to my life. The older I got, the more I looked forward to his escapades. One thing was sure, whenever my own chil- dren would eventually come along, nothing really topped his adventures. His ability to sniff out trouble eventu- ally faded as he grew by the time I went away to col- lege he was learning to be a teenager. Although today he stands heads over me and is no longer needing me to extract him from one mess or anoth- er, in my mind, he'll always be that little wild headed blonde boy riding his little red tricycle as fast and far from me as he could. Kalynn Brazeal writes and lives 'in Sidney. y listed as 2/$12i:::: :::: :iii iiii iiii!iiiii Richland County Fairgrounds Event Center- S dnev] ~booth! ~, ?i~ i Largest event of its kind Concessions se (dby. " in the area! Over25 booths! Heaven to Earth Church Companies Represented: Avon, Damsel in Defense, Discovery Toys, DoTERRA, Dove Chocolate Discoveries, DynaMAXX, In A Pickle, Jamberry, in Candles, Just Jewelry, Mary Kay, Mary Martha, Mialisia, Norwex, Origami Owl, PAWTREE, The Pampered Chef, Pink Zebra, Plexus, Rodan Fields, Scentsy, Thirty One, Usborne Books,Younique, Young Living Essential Oils. J