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The Montana Democratic Party's platform states our position on the issues that matter most to Montanans. We arrived at the Platform in June 2012.
Agriculture & Rural Development
Family farming and ranching affect all economic activity in Montana, are important parts of our cultural heritage, and have made agriculture our state’s largest industry. It must be enhanced through public policies that make it financially possible to improve family-oriented agricultural production. These include: fair prices; improved trade policies; value-added enterprise, including the production of renewable fuels and alternative energy; market promotion; community education; availability of credit; and reasonably priced transportation.
Agriculture & Rural Development Plank Appendix
We recognize that agriculture is our state's largest industry and directly or indirectly affects all economic activity in our state. The small town rural way of life in Montana is particularly threatened by the ongoing crisis in agriculture. There is increasing anxiety over the number of family farmers and ranchers who have undergone bankruptcy or foreclosure and left the community because they can no longer earn a living in agriculture.
We support agricultural policies designed to promote and enhance a decentralized, sustainable, community-based family farm system of agriculture, as opposed to the centralized, globalized, and industrialized model of agriculture. It is crucial that measures be taken to assure farmers and ranchers opportunities for profit supported by fair trade policies, value-added enterprise, market promotion, country of origin labeling, availability of credit and fair prices. We believe that in order for the farmer and rancher to survive, transportation for inputs and commodities must be competitive and reasonably priced.
Family farming and ranching is a valuable economic, social and cultural institution, which must be preserved through public policies that make it financially possible to sustain the family-oriented agricultural production so vital to our state. Public agricultural policies should be modified to include a financial security net with a goal of no net loss in the population of family agriculture producers. We support legislation that will enhance food security and maintain fair market access by curtailing the concentration of US agricultural production by multi-national corporations.
While current agricultural policies discourage continued ownership of farms and ranches by subsequent generations of Montana farm and ranch families, we support a combination of progressive land use and tax policies, as well as finance laws, to encourage the transfer of agricultural operations from parents to children or to new family farm and ranch owners.
We recognize that farmers and ranchers are the natural stewards of the land and that they have a responsibility to develop a productive, manageable, and sustainable approach to the preservation of natural resources for future generations. Since private property rights are a matter of civility and respect, eminent domain laws need to be addressed in order to protect all property rights equally. To promote the best possible management of public lands, we encourage the implementation of procedures to provide for reasonable fees, rental rates, and practices.
A goal of our educational institutions should be to prepare our current and future agricultural producers for the dramatic changes, emerging technologies, and the economic challenges facing agriculture. We support sufficient funding of state institutions of higher learning doing agriculture research, the Agricultural Experiment Stations, the Cooperative Extension Service, and related agricultural youth programs including, but not limited to, 4-H, Future Farmers of America (FFA) and Agriculture in Montana Schools.
Agriculture & Rural Development Plank Resolutions
WHEREAS, the nature of agricultural markets is changing and becoming more international; and
WHEREAS, competitiveness requires aggressive international trade;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports active investments in aggressive market promotion of Montana agricultural commodities.
WHEREAS, cooperatives have historically enabled farmers and ranchers to meet the economic challenges presented by geographic isolation and market forces beyond their control; and
WHEREAS, cooperatives enable individuals to pool their resources with others sufficient to capitalize an enterprise; and
WHEREAS, community-based cooperatives may be an effective vehicle to foster the creation of value-added enterprises in our rural communities;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports dedicating resources to the Montana Cooperative Development Center.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports the development of community-based and regional cooperative grocery, clothing and supply stores, rural marketing cooperatives, healthcare cooperatives, and energy and communications cooperatives.
State Hail Insurance and Grain Labs
WHEREAS, the State Hail Insurance Program is a self-sustaining entity and sets the standards for private insurance; and
WHEREAS, the state grain labs guarantee the integrity of the grain grading system which is an important factor in buying and selling of grain in this state;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party encourages the State of Montana to provide sufficient funding and to adamantly oppose privatization of these state agencies.
All-Risk Crop Insurance
WHEREAS, farmers sustain increased economic risk due to increasing costs and increasingly variable weather conditions;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports improving and expanding the USDA all-risk crop insurance program.
WHEREAS, agriculture is one of Montana’s largest and most important industries; and
WHEREAS, the family farms, ranches, and the rural businesses that support them are cornerstones of Montana's social, economic, and cultural heritage; and
WHEREAS, agricultural support through subsidies, promotion, and credit financing is of vital importance to beginning and established farmers and ranchers; and
WHEREAS, the Montana Democratic Party also encourages and supports non-traditional or alternative farming and ranching methods;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party urges the state of Montana and the United States government to provide financial support, marketing assistance, and credit financing targeting Montana family farms and rural businesses, beginning farmers, ranchers, and small rural businesses, implementation of successful business succession planning, and reintegration of Montana’s returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans into the rural workforce.
Conditions for Commercial Introduction of Genetically Engineered Wheat into Montana
WHEREAS, most countries that are major customers for Montana wheat exports have indicated that they will not purchase Montana wheat if it becomes contaminated with genetically engineered wheat; and
WHEREAS, serious liability questions related to the growing, selling, and distribution of genetically engineered wheat remain unresolved, such as pollen drift and the lack of a distribution system that is capable of segregating genetically engineered wheat from natural wheat;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports immediate measures to protect Montana’s valuable natural wheat from genetic contamination that could result in loss of export markets; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports measures to protect Montana’s family farmers from unreasonable liability resulting from the introduction of genetically engineered crops and maintain their independent production rights.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports measures to protect consumers by requiring labeling of genetically modified food products.
Agriculture Antitrust Enforcement
WHEREAS, agriculture is the number one sector of Montana’s economy and the ripple effect of poor commodity prices is felt throughout the state; and
WHEREAS, the retail price of commodities does not reflect the low prices agriculture producers are receiving; and
WHEREAS, there have been calls for antitrust enforcement to reduce the monopolistic power of multinational corporations;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party requests Congress continue to investigate and conduct field hearings on commodity manipulation and the effectiveness of antitrust enforcement; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports the efforts of the USDA and US DOJ and Montana Attorney General Bullock in investigating and rigorously enforcing federal antitrust laws in the agriculture sector including, but not limited, to the Packers and Stockyards Act.
WHEREAS, Montana farmers are captive shippers; and
WHEREAS, Montana lacks competitive grain transportation; and
WHEREAS, all railroads are shipping grain from Midwest markets to the west coast at lower rates than Montana grain;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party demands that all railroads offer fair shipping rates to Montana farmers, or be subject to regulation as a rail monopoly; and
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports efforts of Montana Attorney General Bullock in negotiating and securing fair and competitive railroad shipping rates for agricultural and other commodities.
Trade Resolution on Agriculture and Food Security
WHEREAS, the Montana Democratic Party believes that rules governing international trade must allow countries to give priority to sustaining family farms and achieving global food security;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that rules for the global economy should:
WHEREAS, a large part of Montana’s agriculture production is on irrigated land; and
WHEREAS, much of irrigation water is pumped with electricity; and
WHEREAS, electrical deregulation has drastically increased the price of electricity, driving up production costs;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party rejects electrical deregulation and advocates the re-establishment of a stable and affordable supply of electricity.
Advanced Biofuels Production
WHEREAS, Montana’s economy depends on agriculture; and
WHEREAS, biofuels such as biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol potentially offer a cleaner, faster, renewable approach to improve Montana’s air quality, build real long-lasting prosperity across the State, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and combat global warming; and
WHEREAS, renewable agricultural commodities can be converted into biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol, thereby increasing commodity prices and creating needed construction and operating jobs; and
WHEREAS, Montana farmers can produce advanced biofuels that don’t compete with food production;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic party supports a comprehensive plan to explore technologies to develop advanced biofuels; and
BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports the creation of a sustainable biofuels industry in Montana through programs such as WIRED and believe that our state and local governments should play an integral role in fostering the development of this industry by procuring biofuels and biofuel blends for state and local fleet vehicles.
WHEREAS the health of Montana’s livestock industry is critical to the state’s economy and agricultural heritage; and
WHEREAS the presence of brucellosis in wildlife in Yellowstone National Park and the greater Yellowstone area threatens the state’s disease-free status;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports the methods of management by which Montana’s livestock industry can maintain its disease-free status.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Montana Democratic Party supports a long-term global solution that works to eradicate the disease in both livestock and wildlife.
WHEREAS, in 1950, 70% of the food Montanans consumed was produced in the state and today that figure is 10%; and
WHEREAS, most food products now consumed in Montana travel an average of 1500 miles and are handled by an estimated 50 people prior to consumption; and
WHEREAS, for each percent more that we eat of Montana-produced foods, we add about $30 million to the state’s economy, according to the Montana Extension Service;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana Democratic Party strongly supports extending Montana’s capacity to produce, package and distribute a wider range of locally grown food and enthusiastically supports programs including, but not limited to, the Farm to School, Farm to College, Farm to Table programs; community supported agriculture; community gardens; and Farmers Markets.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party strives to incorporate locally grown, locally sourced food, fiber and beverages into all of its official functions at the state, county, and local levels.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports, as another example of value-added agriculture, the growth and development of a vibrant agri-tourism and eco-tourism industry which connects consumers with the rural producers of their food, fiber, and energy.
In Support of Relaxation of the Economic Trade Embargo with Cuba
WHEREAS, agricultural production is Montana’s number one industry, the Montana Democratic Party supports the relaxation of the economic trade embargo with Cuba, as it would provide an important market for family farms and ranches to sell their goods; and
WHEREAS, Montana Democrats join with every agricultural advocacy group in our state in pushing for the relaxation of the economic trade embargo with Cuba; and
WHEREAS, we support lifting the embargo, as Cuba imports over one million tons of wheat every year and the island nation’s eleven million residents could be potential consumers for Montana’s farmers and ranchers; and
WHEREAS, we reaffirm our support for Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester’s position that a relaxation of the economic trade embargo with Cuba would benefit Montana’s family farms and ranches; and
WHEREAS, we urge other members of our Congressional Delegation who have changed their views on this important issue to reconsider their conversion and return to supporting Montana’s number one industry, agricultural production;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that Montana Democrats strongly support the relaxation of the economic trade embargo with Cuba, as it would benefit Montana’s family farmers and ranchers and the overall economy of our state.
Federal Estate Tax
WHEREAS, uncertainty in the current federal estate tax regulation does continue to adversely affect the economic viability of Montana’s farmers, ranchers, and small businesspeople; and
WHEREAS, a rational and consistent federal estate tax system is essential to effective business planning and family-based business sustainability;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports the renewal of the Federal Estate Tax provisions and maintenance of the current federal estate tax exemption levels.
Renewal of Montana’s Charitable Endowment Tax Credit
WHEREAS, Montana’s current Charitable Endowment Tax Credit is set to expire in 2012; and
WHEREAS, Montana’s resident population is rapidly aging and the state will soon have one of the oldest populations in the nation, in that 1 in 4 Montanans will be 65 years of age, or older, by 2030; and
WHEREAS, Montana continues to export its most valuable commodity, its youth, to the coasts, larger out-of-state urban centers, or overseas in order to live, work, and raise their families; and
WHEREAS, by 2020, deaths in Montana will exceed births, and any population growth will be determined primarily by the number of immigrants moving to Montana; and
WHEREAS, the 2011 Montana Transfer of Wealth (TOW) study indicates that by 2020, more than $12 billion in wealth and assets in Montana will transfer from one generation to the next, and within the next 50 years, in Montana, there will be more than $123 billion in inter-generational wealth transferred; and
WHEREAS, improved financial literacy education and estate planning programs and the Charitable Endowment Tax Credit are all extremely valuable tools that can help capture and retain a portion of this inter-generational transfer of wealth, for current and future investment in community development, through community foundations, non-profits, and charities; and
WHEREAS, that capital will be available in Montana to build and sustain future wealth, as an investment now or in the future, and provide an opportunity to sustain and build our communities, by design, or allow them to decline, by default;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports improved financial literacy education and estate planning programs and the renewal and extension of Montana’s Charitable Endowment Tax Credit.
Implementing Federal Healthcare Reform Laws
WHEREAS, 1 in 5 rural Montana farmers and ranchers currently do not have and cannot afford health insurance; and
WHEREAS, health insurance premiums of individual farmers, ranchers, and small businesses in the open market are currently unaffordable; and
WHEREAS, more Montana farmers, ranchers and small businesspeople will seek bankruptcy protection due to unpaid medical bills than will be adversely impacted by federal estate taxes;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports implementing state legislation which will create a strong and broad-based state health care exchange, providing a minimum basic level of healthcare coverage and affordable health insurance options; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports implementing state legislation which provides authority to the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance to investigate health insurance companies’ operations and regulate the profits of those companies.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports the creation and operation of the non-profit Montana Healthcare Cooperative as a viable, competitive, alternative health insurance company which will compete with the existing for-profit and non-profit health insurance companies, while lowering premium rates, improving services, and healthcare outcomes, and reducing administrative costs and waste.
2012 Farm Bill
WHEREAS, the current federal farm bill expires in September 2012; and
WHEREAS, in Montana, one in five jobs is directly related to the agriculture industry, and nationwide, some 16 million jobs depend upon the strength and continued success of American agriculture; and
WHEREAS, American farmers and ranchers grow the safest and most abundant supply of food, fiber, and energy in the world, and innovations in agriculture allow American families to eat healthy, nutritious food at a lower cost than most of the world; and
WHEREAS, Montana farmers and ranchers, as good stewards of the land, recognize their obligation to preserve the environment; raise healthy crops and livestock; provide reasonably priced, nutritious, high quality food; enhance food safety; invest in their communities; embrace innovation; and create an economically and ecologically sustainable future; and
WHEREAS, in the increasingly uncertain economic and political environment, timely passage of a new federal farm bill is essential; and
WHEREAS, this bill saves $23 billion, reforms, eliminates, and streamlines many agriculture programs, while strengthening the tools available to producers to manage risk and conserve natural resources;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports the enactment of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party recognizes and commends Montana’s Democratic U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester for their valuable contributions to the development of this essential piece of legislation.
Rural Post Office Closures
WHEREAS, in 2011 the United States Postal Services (USPS) placed 3,700 post offices on a list for study for possible closure, including 85 post offices in Montana, in its effort to become more financially solvent; and
WHEREAS, the vast majority of the 85 Montana post offices slated for closure are located in rural or frontier Montana communities at least ten miles or more from the next nearest postal facility; and customers often live many more miles from their existing post office; and
WHEREAS, Montana’s rural residents rely heavily on their post offices to receive time-sensitive documents, prescription medicines, veterinary supplies, and parts and equipment necessary for the viable operation of their farms, ranches, and small rural businesses; and
WHEREAS, many of these same rural and frontier communities have limited or sporadic internet, broadband, and parcel delivery services; and
WHEREAS, Postmaster General Donahue, at the only face-to-face town hall meeting he personally attended, in Ingomar, Montana, committed: to keeping those rural post offices more than ten miles from the next nearest postal facility open; to exploring all other options, including implementation of village post offices, use of cluster boxes, and reducing service hours to reflect revenue produced; and to further community and customer engagement before making any further USPS service changes in rural areas; and
WHEREAS, Montana’s Democratic U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester have resisted these efforts to close rural post offices and offered viable alternatives to such closure;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports legislative efforts to prevent the closure of Montana’s rural and frontier post offices and commends Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester for their efforts in that regard.
Energy Development Impact Mitigation for Rural Montana
WHEREAS, the state of Montana, since its creation, has endured numerous “Boom and Bust” economic cycles, wherein its non-renewable natural resources were extracted, developed, and exploited for the benefit of out-of-state corporations and their shareholder investors, leaving Montana’s residents to deal with the impact of such developments; and
WHEREAS, through implementation of new technologies, including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, multinational corporations are now extracting and developing Montana’s oil and gas resources in the Bakken formation, which extends from the North Dakota border to the Rocky Mountain front and in the Heath formation in south-central and southeastern Montana, and
WHEREAS, multinational corporations are planning to extract and develop Montana’s coal resources at Otter Creek and elsewhere across Montana, for international export to rapidly growing foreign countries around the world; and
WHEREAS, the states with the highest oil and gas production taxes in the nation, Texas, Alaska, and North Dakota, also produce the most oil and gas in the nation, and
WHEREAS, Montana, in its wisdom, has enacted an effective Montana Coal Trust Fund, and an effective Resort Community Tourism Sales Tax, to mitigate the impact of these respective industries, Montana has no such Oil and Gas Trust Fund and instead enacted an 18-month oil and gas production tax holiday for horizontal drilling; and
WHEREAS, most of the direct impact of increased oil and gas production will impact rural counties and communities, from Sidney to Richey to counties and communities on the Rocky Mountain Front, and the direct impact of increased coal production will directly impact rural counties and communities from Ashland and Broadus to Roundup and Red Lodge; and
WHEREAS, most of those impacts on schools, sanitation, roads, law enforcement, water quality, social services and housing occur during the first 18 months of natural resource development, when Montana has imposed the tax holiday; and
WHEREAS, Montanans should proactively take charge of their future through effective planning for sustainable development of its non-renewable natural resources instead of reacting to more “Boom and Bust” economic activity; and
WHEREAS, in effect, Montana’s resident taxpayers are subsidizing these multinational corporations as they seek to exploit and develop Montana’s non-renewable natural resources.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports:
(a.) Exploring of adjustments to the 18 month tax holiday for horizontal drilling for oil and gas production; and
(b.) Allowing energy impacted communities and counties the option of imposing an energy production impact fee or sales tax modeled upon Montana’s resort tax non-resident individuals and corporations to help mitigate the impact of development; and
(c.) Creating an Oil and Gas Trust Fund, modeled upon the Montana Coal Trust Fund and the Alaska Permanent Fund, to help, in part, mitigate the impact of energy development on rural communities and counties.
Bridging the Rural-Urban Divide
WHERAS, the rural-urban divide has been growing in the U.S. since the turn of the 20th century, as more people migrate to urban centers, leaving rural communities with an aging and financially challenged population; and
WHEREAS, fewer connections between rural and urban communities means that the capacity to understand each other’s lives and cultures diminishes and the ability to partner on projects, businesses, or even to have civil discourse can disappear; or becomes less likely; and
WHEREAS, Montana is not immune to this growing divide, as currently about 65% of our residents live within one of the seven larger, more urban centers of the state and by 2030 this percentage is expected to grow to 80%; and
WHEREAS, Montana is currently facing some big challenges and opportunities, from the energy boom in the east, to our aging population, to questions of land use, and solutions can only be found in coalitions of diverse stakeholders; and
WHEREAS, a proactive approach, involving rural/urban collaboration and a regional approach to building connections between rural and urban communities is the direction to go; and
WHEREAS, three examples of such attempts to bridge the rural-urban divide in Montana are the One Montana initiative, MSU’s Rural Community Conference, and the Montana Non-profit Association’s Build Montana initiative;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED; that the Montana Democratic Party supports the One Montana initiative, Rural Community Conferences, and the Build Montana initiative and their efforts to bridge the rural-urban divide in Montana that makes community vitality and development a priority, and makes the entire state a better place to live, work, raise a family, and recreate—the Last Best Place, indeed.
We support the sovereign status of the Indian Nations and are committed to recognizing their self-governance and self-determination to preserve their way of life within their individual tribal structures. This relationship encompasses the rights of self-government, self-determination, cultural preservation, religious freedom, and of meeting trust obligations included within treaties and executive orders. We, as Democrats, promote recommendations to advance the socioeconomic condition of American Indians in urban areas and on Indian reservations by pledging to advocate for and support legislation, adequate funding, and policies that will provide for equity in educational quality and achievement, increase parity in employment, protect natural resources, ensure equity in justice, and respect the government-to-government relationship with the State of Montana and the federal government.
American Indian Plank Appendix
Building our Party
We shall implement an ongoing American Indian educational process within the Montana Democratic Party, emphasizing sovereignty, education, and human rights. Each county's Central Committee shall offer, at the minimum, one program a year on American Indian issues, outlining both on- and off-reservation issues, with support offered by the Montana Indian Democrats Council and Montana Democratic Party through distribution of relevant materials.
We affirm our support for the constitutional promise made in Article X, Section 1, Number (2) of the Montana State Constitution, which states: "The state recognizes the distinct and unique cultural heritage of the American Indians and is committed in its educational goals to the preservation of their cultural integrity.” We support adequate, ongoing funding for the continued implementation of Indian Education for All K-12 and ask the Montana University System to include adequate funding for all at all units of the University System.
We recognize the disparity in educational achievement and high school completion rates between Indian and non-Indian students in our K-12 schools in Montana and support policy and funding for educational services designed to bring equity for American Indian Students.
We recognize the importance of Tribal Colleges in providing a vital part of the higher education services to all Montana citizens, both Indian and non-Indian, and support continued state funding of non-beneficiary students who attend these Tribal Colleges at a level commensurate to the state’s community colleges.
Tribal/State Government Relations
We recognize all Indian Nations in Montana as sovereign nations. We shall consult with tribal leaders and members prior to proposing or supporting legislation/policy that impacts Indian Nations.
We will honor all court decisions, contracts, and agreements between federal or state government and all Indian Nations.
We support MCA § 2-15-108 (Gender and Racial Balance law) that encourages the ongoing appointment of American Indians on all boards, commissions, and committees in state, county, and local governments to provide equitable and fair representation in these policy and decision-making entities.
The state will distribute funds equitably to assure that American Indians in Montana receive their fair share of appropriate funds.
We strongly support the concept of cooperative agreement between the State of Montana government agencies and the Indian Nations of Montana.
Urban Indian/State Relations
With over half of the American Indian people living off-reservation, and recognizing that the majority of them face similar socioeconomic challenges to on-reservation Indians, the Democratic Party and its leadership will advocate for policy, legislation and funding to help Urban Indians overcome these barriers.
Religious and Cultural Rights
We strongly support the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the Repatriation Act, and similar federal legislation. We advocate the protection of American Indian sacred and religious properties and encourage compliance by appropriate state agencies. We support the rights of institutionalized and/or incarcerated American Indians to access cultural and religious resources.
Health and Human Services
We recognize the unique cultural and socioeconomic needs of American Indians, reservation and urban, and we urge the executive branch of state government to continue to ensure the equitable and fair delivery of social services, mental health services, and quality, affordable health care.
We support exclusive tribal court jurisdiction over all Indian children and urge state courts to honor and transfer proceedings involving Indian children to tribal courts, according to the Indian Child Welfare Act.
We urge the inclusion of culturally sensitive training for all providers of health and social services within the state of Montana, including within the public school system.
We are committed to honor and encourage enforcement of the right of tribal governments to regulate and manage their air quality, natural resources, and to protect their sacred and cultural sites, both on and off reservation lands.
We support the Clean Water Act and honor the water rights of Indian Nations in Montana.
We support an ongoing equitable and fair employment plan that will increase the number of Indian employees at all levels within state government from its current inequitable rate.
We will work proactively for economic development on the seven Indian Reservations, with the Little Shell Band, and with all other Indian people (reservation and off-reservation) in Montana and encourage participation in all economic committees and programs, including tourism, state and federal contracts for minority business, and job training programs.
We support good-faith negotiation on tribal-state compacts, including Indian gaming compacts.
We support full compliance with Tribal Employment Rights Office (TERO) guidelines.
We recognize the right of self-government and self-determination of Indian Nations as stated in the Indian Self-Determination Act, the Indian Tax Act and the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.
The state will distribute funds equitably to assure that American Indians in Montana receive their fair share of appropriate funds. Intergovernmental tax agreements should ensure that tax revenues generated on Indian reservations stay on the reservation to support reservation economies and fund essential services provided by tribal governments.
We support continuing the three Indian majority senate districts and the six Indian majority house districts through the redistricting process. We support the Voting Rights Act, which has been critical in insuring the voting rights of Indian people. We will be proactive in ensuring that Indian people participate on an equitable basis, not only in voting, but in serving as state political leadership, on school boards, in county and city governments, and on other policy-making boards and commissions.
We are extremely concerned with the disproportionate number of American Indians incarcerated in Montana’s correctional system and will work with appropriate state departments, as well as Tribal communities in Montana, to assure justice in the judgment and sentencing process that will reduce this inequitable rate.
We recognize the positive effects of alternatives to incarceration. We encourage the expansion of the use of family, drug, DUI, and mental health courts.
We will urge the inclusion of culturally sensitive training for the judicial system, the court system, and their employees.
Federal Responsibilities to Tribes
We strongly support adequate funding for programs and services that are federal responsibilities to American Indian Tribes.
We will advocate for equitable state and federal funding for all Indian programs. We will work to ensure that federal funds generated by state statistics be distributed equitably to Indian programs.
Recruitment and American Indian Representation
We celebrate the strengths of the American Indian culture. We will actively seek, encourage, promote and support the involvement of American Indian Democratic members and candidates at all levels of government and within the Democratic Party.
American Indian Plank Resolutions
Continued Funding for Non-Indians at Tribal Colleges
WHEREAS, the participation of non-Indians at tribal colleges in Montana is increasing; and
WHEREAS, each Reservation in Montana has a tribal college; and
WHEREAS, the state currently provides funding for non-Indian students and students who are not enrolled in a federally recognized tribe (non-beneficiary) attending tribal colleges in Montana;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports funding for non-beneficiaries attending tribal colleges in Montana at parity with public community colleges of the Montana University System.
Support of the Little Shell Tribe of the Chippewa Indians
WHEREAS, the Little Shell Band of the Chippewa is undergoing the required review process for Federal recognition;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports the Little Shell Band of the Chippewa in their pursuit for Federal recognition.
In Support of Sovereignty Awareness
WHEREAS, the Montana Democratic Party recognizes that American Indian concerns can be addressed by the understanding of tribal sovereignty; and
WHEREAS, the tribes in Montana possess this understanding of tribal sovereignty; and
WHEREAS, elected officials of the Montana Democratic Party need to understand and respect tribal sovereignty;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party, with the assistance of the tribes in Montana, will sponsor orientation for elected officials to ensure understanding of tribal sovereignty.
American Indian Funding in Block Grants
WHEREAS, the federal government has certain responsibilities to the tribes; and
WHEREAS, the federal government may be considering block grants to fund certain programs in Montana;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party will advocate for appropriate funding for American Indian entities from the block grants and will support direct tribal funding.
Montana Advisory Council for Indian Education (MACIE)
WHEREAS, the Montana Democratic Party is committed to quality education for all Montana citizens;
WHEREAS, Montana's Indian people have unique educational needs; and
WHEREAS, effective and quality American Indian education can only be accomplished with adequate, ongoing funding of the Montana Advisory Council for Indian Education to support research, curriculum development, and other Indian education efforts;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports adequate ongoing funding of the Montana Advisory Council for Indian Education.
Dialogues on Race and Diversity
The Montana Democratic Party supports local, regional, and state dialogue on the issue of racism, particularly focusing on Montana Indian concerns.
Montana Indian Educational Achievement
WHEREAS, the Montana Democratic Party is committed to quality education for all Montana citizens; and
WHEREAS, in Montana, Indians’ student achievement levels rank far below the national and state averages, as reported in recent standardized test score results in our public schools, and Indians’ drop-out rates far exceed the national and state averages by a ratio of three to one (or more), which negatively impacts opportunities for success in college scholarships, jobs, and economic growth; and
WHEREAS, The State of Montana took significant steps forward in 2005 in setting policy and providing funding to address these educational disparities, including the Closing the Achievement Gap Funding for American Indian students; and
WHEREAS, it is vital that schools utilize this funding for its intended purpose in order to address these disparities;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports continued funding for Closing the Achievement Gap for American Indian Students and urges the Governor, Board of Public Education, Office of Public Instruction, and local school boards to develop policy to ensure that the budgeting of this funding is targeted for the purpose it was intended.
Montana Indian Education for All
WHEREAS, the State of Montana took historic steps forward in 2005 in providing first-time funding for Indian Education for All in our K-12 educational systems in recognition of our state’s commitment in Article X, Section 1, part 2 of the Montana Constitution, to meet the definition of a quality education as outlined in SB 152, and to address the concerns outlined in Montana Supreme Court decisions;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, public schools in Montana should have adequate funding to implement Indian Education for All through professional development, purchase of culturally relevant materials, curriculum development, and other activities that will help all Montana students learn about American Indians of Montana and it is vital that these schools use this funding for its intended purpose.
Support for the Montana Indian Tribes Receiving a Share of the Expected Tobacco Settlement
WHEREAS, the Indian tribes represent eight percent of Montana’s population; and
WHEREAS, Indians pay taxes as part of Montana’s population; and
WHEREAS, economic success for the tribes is essential to the general economic health of the state; and
WHEREAS, the tribes have significant and often unique needs for development and funding of programs for education, healthcare, and employment;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana State Democratic Party be on record in support of the Indian tribes of Montana receiving a share of the tobacco settlement.
Reaffirming Commitment to the Tribal Justice System
WHEREAS, an independent tribal court system is essential to the sovereignty of Indian Nations; and
WHEREAS, there is concern that the Montana court system does not recognize tribal court orders;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party reaffirms its commitment to tribal sovereignty and the independence of the tribal court system, and pledges its opposition to allowing state courts jurisdiction over disputes on tribal land; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party recommends the Montana justice system give full faith and credit to tribal court orders.
Support for Home Ownership Opportunities for Tribal Members Residing on Indian Reservations in Montana
WHEREAS, tribal members residing on Indian reservations in Montana have historically been denied the same mortgage lending opportunities enjoyed by those residing off-reservation; and
WHEREAS, in the Community Development Banking and Financial Institutions Act (1994), Congress found that “many of the Nation’s urban, rural, and Native American communities face critical social and economic problems arising in part from the lack of economic growth, people living in poverty, and the lack of employment and other economic opportunities;” and
WHEREAS, many communities located on Indian lands in Montana face economic and social challenges that place them significantly behind the rest of the United States economy and in Montana; and
WHEREAS, there are a number of explanations why home ownership opportunities and mortgage lending have not been readily available to Indian reservations in Montana, such as a lack of access to capital and financial services on Indian reservations, that contribute to the investment gap;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports the continued efforts by Indian tribes and tribal members in Montana to eliminate the historical investment gap and improve the opportunities for home ownership and mortgage lending on Indian reservations in Montana.
Honoring our American Indian Women by Stopping the Violence
WHEREAS, the level of violence against American Indian women in the United States is even more alarming in light of a recent report by Amnesty International revealing that sexual violence against indigenous women in the USA is widespread and especially brutal. According to US government statistics, Native American and Alaska Native women are more than 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than other women in the USA; and
WHEREAS,federal government studies have consistently shown that Native American and Alaska Native women experience much higher levels of sexual violence than other women in the United States, and, according to the US Department of Justice, more than 1 in 3 Native American and Alaska Native women will be raped during their lifetime; and indigenous women are being denied protection, and there is a systematic failure to punish those responsible for these crimes; and
WHEREAS, Indigenous women are being denied justice and the perpetrators are going unpunished.
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED,the Montana Democratic Party calls on the US government, state and tribal governments to take the first steps to end sexual violence against American Indian women.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVEDthat the Montana Democratic Party encourages the state of Montana to follow Article 4 of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, which stipulates that “States should exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons.
We support the constitutional right of Montanans to a clean and healthful environment. A healthy environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. Responsible and sustainable utilization of our natural resources should be the guiding principle. Montana’s energy policy must ensure affordable, reliable, environmentally sound energy resources with a priority for Montana residences and businesses. Constructive responses to climate change are imperative.
Quality of Life, Now and in the Future
Having been endowed with one of the most magnificent natural environments on earth, we Montanans affirm our moral responsibility, enshrined in our state constitution’s guarantee of a clean and healthful environment, to ensure that future generations inherit a Montana as pristine and bountiful as the one we have been privileged to enjoy. We support legal protection for the care of the natural environment so that Montana remains a clean, healthful, and inspirational place to live, raise a family, work, and play. We support the responsible, sensible utilization of our natural resources.
The Environment and Economic Stability
We believe a healthy environment and a sustained, healthy economy go hand in hand. It is far-sighted and cost-effective public policy to protect the environment now rather than burden our children with the extraordinary costs of environmental restoration and remediation, and resource depletion in the future.
As part of this commitment, we recognize the role of extractive industries in Montana's economy and strongly believe that their activities must be conducted with the utmost respect for the environment and sustainable communities. The health and integrity of our environment must be maintained, including the pristine nature of wild places. Those components of our environment that have been degraded must be restored or remediated for present and future generations, providing enhanced human and ecological health, and developing a restoration economy supporting quality high-paying jobs. We believe the primary responsible parties should share the costs. We believe in the interconnectedness of Montana’s economy, quality of life and utilization of our natural resources.
We affirm that our natural environment is a significant basis for Montana’s thriving and growing tourism industry and that its preservation is important to our state’s economic future.
We support the management of our natural resources with the participation and cooperation of all levels of government, tribal government, business, and the public.
We recognize that a trained and dedicated environmental, natural resource, and public health work force is a valuable commodity.
We further recognize our commitment to encouraging the responsible development of quality jobs.
We support the retention of educated and experienced employees, the right of employees to an honest, open and respectful work place, and protection of employees from retribution, discrimination or illegal personnel actions.
Local governments should be allowed and encouraged to develop protection ordinances suited to the communities’ needs. Citizen involvement at all levels is essential to ensure that the environmental regulatory process is conducted in an open and fair manner. We subscribe to the principle that public participation also leads to more effective and efficient enforcement of environmental standards.
Private Land, Sprawl and Growth Policy
We recognize the importance of private property rights. We also recognize the importance of subdivision regulations, low-carbon transportation, and local land use planning. These public processes should be in place so that we maintain open space, private forestry, family agriculture, and conduct economically and environmentally sustainable community development. We must protect valuable farmlands, productive wildlife habitat, wetlands and riparian resources, as well as landscapes of cultural and historic importance. We believe the state should assist local officials and the public in establishing their own growth policies. We support legislation to include local officials and the public "at the table" when state boards, and all government officials are making decisions that affect that community. We encourage local and county governments to consider the cumulative effects of large housing developments during subdivision approval.
Montana's clean water is a crucial resource for human life, health, and our economy. We support protection, conservation and improvement of the quality and quantity of our ground and surface water. Except for bottled and processed water products, we oppose the sale, transfer, or marketing of Montana’s water for use in other states. The evaporative effect of increasing temperatures on soil moisture and surface water, rising population, and the use, salinization, and pollution of millions of gallons of water per gas or oil well developed magnifies the necessity that we be ever vigilant in protecting water quality and quantity. We oppose any privatization of public water systems. We encourage the development of standards and infrastructure for reuse of water.
Montana’s clean air is a crucial resource for human life, health and our economy, as guaranteed by Montana’s Constitution. We support the protection and improvement of our air quality, considering all sources of degradation.
Solid and Hazardous Waste Disposal and Recycling
Disposal of solid waste presents numerous threats to the environment. We believe that opportunities for true recycling should be available throughout the state for both environmental and economic reasons. We also believe in adequate reclamation of environmentally disturbed areas and disposal of hazardous and toxic waste so as to ensure public health and safety, as well as environmental integrity. We oppose transport and disposal, in Montana, of hazardous and toxic waste generated outside Montana.
Montana is taking a leading role in the development and the employment of new technologies related to energy efficiency, conservation, wind power, coal gasification, renewable resources, bio fuels, geothermal, energy storage and traditional energy sources. With a can-do spirit, we must utilize our entrepreneurs, workforce, university system and government agencies to produce clean, reliable and affordable energy for Montanans.
The most cost-effective sources of “new” energy are conservation, efficiency and demand-side management. Energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances, smart metering and other practices that reduce energy consumption and costs for homeowners and businesses are critical. We support transportation system improvements that decrease fuel consumption.
Montana must restore the model for a sound energy utility that was lost to “deregulation.” The model includes a properly regulated utility with vertically integrated functions, including its own cost-based generation. In this way we ensure that Montana energy consumers can take advantage of Montana’s vast and affordable energy resources. We need to forward legislation that encourages grid and utility improvements to provide the flexibility required for intermittent renewable resources.
We support the continuation and expansion of viable Universal Services Benefits programs and recognize the importance of low-income assistance, weatherization programs, energy audits of homes, farms, business, and industry, and energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable resources offered under these programs.
The cost of transportation fuels is critically important to consumers in a transportation-dependent, northern-climate state like Montana. Our low and middle-income residents and businesses cannot continue to shoulder the burden of high prices established by the petroleum and natural gas markets. For the sake of Montana’s residential, agricultural and business communities, Congress must eliminate manipulation of these markets. We believe energy efficiency, coal gasification and bio-fuel development provide Montanans growing opportunities to reduce reliance on the highly concentrated sectors of the petroleum markets and to develop new Montana businesses, both in agriculture and fuel production.
We recognize the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community that global warming is occurring and accelerating, that it is to a significant degree caused by human activities, and because of the consequences for Montana’s economy, environment, culture, and public health, it should be effectively and promptly addressed.
Because the problem is global, it can be best addressed by the United States through national solutions. Thus, we support the call from industry and environmental groups alike for the adoption of federal standards for reducing atmospheric levels of CO2 by, among other things, establishing strategies and protocols concerning capture, transportation, sequestration and liability for disposal of CO2, with a priority to create and conserve sustainable jobs.
Being a state with immense land resources, Montana can contribute to the solution and also economically benefit state lands and private business through terrestrial (land and plant-based) and geological carbon sequestration. Thus, we support market-based approaches, such as that conducted by the Chicago Climate Exchange, as an effective means to decreasing carbon emissions and providing economic opportunities for Montana. This kind of proactive approach for reducing CO2 will create additional, sustainable, and desirable jobs in Montana and invigorate our state economy.
Historically, Montana has suffered from corporate environmental exploitation and degradation. We encourage sustainable use of all resources, with the long-term health and benefit of all Montanans in mind. We need to empower local citizens to plan for our future and to discourage the "cut and run" mentality of the past. Continued emphasis must be placed on efforts to curtail adverse environmental impacts of logging, mining, grazing, subdivision, and other development activities.
Forest products constitute an historical and continuing part of Montana's economy. In order for logging to maintain its importance in our economy, it must be sustainable, and the manufacture of value-added products within our state should be encouraged. Our forest management practices should ensure the ecological health of our forests and also allow for the types of recreation which constitute an increasingly important component of Montana's economy, i.e. hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.
We understand the critical importance of maintaining a healthy vibrant forest products industry as a tool to effective forest stewardship. We call upon the federal government to coordinate with state and local government forest policy in order to enhance the management of our forests.
Especially in light of insect infestations and disease, the federal government must be active in managing forests, reducing forest fuels, and restoring watersheds and natural forest systems through the use of stewardship logging which ensures the health and integrity of the forest and provides jobs.
We realize that agriculture, including the livestock industry, is an important component of our state's economy. Recognizing not only our own self-interest, but future demands for our products as the world struggles to feed itself, we affirm and encourage the need for sustainable agricultural practices, including those which protect rangelands, riparian areas and wetlands habitats and which inhibit soil erosion, reduce dependency upon hazardous chemicals, maintain and enhance soil fertility and encourage the continued support of family farms. Our higher education extension and state government systems should foster agricultural adaptations to climate change.
While extractive industries have historically been part of Montana's economy, and we affirm the importance of environmentally responsible extraction of hard rock minerals, coal and coal bed methane, oil and gas, the state and federal government should maintain effective programs to reclaim the environmental impacts of resource extraction. Because of potential impacts to our state’s natural resources, we will advocate for policies that make sure all resource extraction is done responsibly with fully funded, vigilant environmental monitoring and protection by governments agencies and that coal bed methane and shale oil or gas development using hydraulic fracturing, does not damage Montana’s groundwater, rivers, streams and agricultural land. It is necessary to require sufficient bonding to both reclaim damages and to restore the environment. Extractive industries have a responsibility to protect the health of the environment and the safety of their workers.
Wetlands and Riparian Areas
Montana's wetlands and riparian areas, under the jurisdiction of both state and federal agencies, continue to diminish in both quantity and quality. We support the planning and protection of wetlands and riparian areas as an integral part of land-use planning and protection of water resources and related habitats.
The Environment, Natural Resources & Energy Plank Resolutions
Resolution on Fostering Private Investment in Energy Efficiency
WHEREAS, national potential for rising energy demand risks straining Montana’s existing power production facilities; and
WHEREAS, energy efficiency improvements are an attainable way to decrease energy consumption; and
WHEREAS, decreased energy consumption saves home and small business owners money which can be re-circulated into local economies; and
WHEREAS, while energy efficiency improvements create significant long-term savings, they are often too expensive up-front for many homeowners and businesspeople; and
WHEREAS, energy efficiency improvements create job opportunities for Montanans throughout the state;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports the creation of state or local government revolving loan funds or other public financial instruments to foster private energy efficiency improvements in homes and businesses across the state.
Resolution on Requiring Aquifer Recharge
WHEREAS, water is a limited resource in Montana and is the basis of the state’s farming and ranching economy and necessary for other economic development, as well as for wildlife, natural ecosystems, and domestic use; and
WHEREAS, coal bed methane development requires the dewatering of coal seam aquifers, which are often the only reliable source of water for domestic purposes and livestock watering in the Powder River Basin area; and
WHEREAS, groundwater withdrawal from coal bed methane production wells has been shown to cause significant drawdown of the groundwater table in areas that have methane development, thus threatening Montana’s water resources and putting senior water right holders at risk; and
WHEREAS, if pumped into streams, this water can threaten downstream uses, such as irrigation; and
WHEREAS, aquifer recharge through reinjection is practical and affordable;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports requiring the coal bed methane industry to recharge as much water as possible into the aquifer from which it was removed.
Resolution on the Importance of the Montana Environmental Policy Act to the Constitutional Guarantee of a Clean and Healthful Environment
WHEREAS, the Montana Constitution guarantees Montanans’ right to a clean and healthful environment; and
WHEREAS, the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) stewards the Montana Constitution’s guarantee of a clean and healthful environment as Montana’s bedrock environmental law; and
WHEREAS, MEPA is the primary way the public may participate in permitting decisions that impact the Constitutional guarantee of a clean and healthful environment; and
WHEREAS, MEPA requires accountable, informed and balanced decision-making from government;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana State Democratic Party pledges to protect MEPA and the Montana Constitution’s guarantee of a clean and healthful environment from being further diminished by legislative or administrative action; and
FURTHER, BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana State Democratic Party supports legislation that would restore the opportunity for public comment to 90 days and require adequate review of complex projects with the potential to harm the lifestyles and livelihoods of Montanans relying on government to steward the guarantee of a clean and healthful environment.
FURTHER, BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana State Democratic Party supports federal and state funding for research and development in public universities and affiliated private institutes to advance technologies for best practices in forestry, agriculture, extractive industries and energy production.
Resolution on Protecting Our Water Resources
WHEREAS, water is a limited resource in Montana and is the basis of the state’s farming and ranching economy and necessary for other economic development, as well as for wildlife, natural ecosystems, and domestic use; and
WHEREAS, deep shale gas development using the hydraulic fracturing technique has the potential to expand rapidly in Montana, and
WHEREAS, federal law exempts fracking fluids from the Safe Drinking Water Act, meaning that gas drillers don’t have to disclose what chemicals they are using underground, and
WHEREAS, the secrecy surrounding the chemicals used makes it very difficult for a water well owner to prove the source of the contamination, for neighbors to know about possible contamination, or for health care providers to provide the best available care,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports requiring the total disclosure of the contents of potentially life-threatening fracking fluids by well operators, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports notification of neighbors when a well has be identified as contaminated, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports fully funded state monitoring of land, air, and water resources affected by hydraulic fracturing.
Smart Business and Consumers Promote Re-Useable Shopping Bags
The use of plastic and paper shopping bags is expensive, can be harmful to the environment and consumes valuable resources. One re-useable bag replaces hundreds of disposable bags in its lifetime.
Eliminate plastic shopping bags
WHEREAS, it is estimated that 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used yearly, and only 1 to 3 percent of them are recycled, and
WHEREAS, plastic bags are made from petroleum, a non-renewable natural resource, there is damage to the environment from the extraction of petroleum, and plastics, polythene, are hazardous to produce and create pollution, and
WHEREAS, all the throw-away plastic bags litter or fly away, clog up sewers and waterways and get caught in throats of animals, and
WHEREAS, once the bags are in the environment, it can take hundreds of years for them to decompose, and they contribute toxins to the soil and water as they decompose, and
Eliminate paper shopping bags
WHEREAS, to make 100 million paper bags, using one-third post-consumer recycled content, takes 15,000 barrels of oil plus other energy sources, such as hydroelectric power, to produce the paper, and
WHEREAS, once trees are cut to produce paper, it takes 20 to 50 years to replace the ones that have been harvested,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party recommends that Montana retail businesses reward shoppers who provide their own re-useable shopping bags…five cents per bag when used to bag their products. This incentive will encourage consumers to use their own re-useable shopping bags, fostering a new and smart habit to protect the environment and save hundreds of thousand dollars. It will be user friendly for retail stores and their customers.
General & Local Government
We view government as the means by which people work together to solve mutual problems and accomplish goals. Government is constitutionally ordained to protect health and safety and to promote community, commerce and culture. A strong partnership among local, state, tribal and federal governments is vital to the success of local government. We support processes that facilitate wider citizen participation at all levels of government and mutual respect between Montanans and their government. Government should be responsive and accountable to the public.
General & Local Government Plank Appendix
Local Control and Taxation
We encourage local control and support the revision of state laws so that local governments can exercise discretion, flexibility, efficiency and responsiveness to their diverse constituents. The state should not burden local governments with cost shifting and unfunded mandates. We believe in fair and equitable taxation and budget policy that provides adequate funding for services.
Protecting Public Services
We support efficient and effective provision of services to the public. We oppose the diversion of public funding to private entities to provide public services.
We recognize the importance of robust and modern infrastructure to Montana’s future and economic well-being. We support creative planning and cooperative partnerships among local, state, tribal and federal levels of government to finance the building, maintenance and enhancement of all our critical infrastructure systems, including transportation, communication technology, water, sewer, energy delivery and economic development. We support expanding and enhancing a statewide high speed Internet infrastructure that is both affordable and accessible to all. We support providing transportation options accessible to all Montanans and “complete street provisions” that allow for all forms of transportation.
We strongly advocate open and transparent campaign finance laws to encourage greater participation by all citizens. We support the Montana Corrupt Practices Act, as enacted by the people of Montana in 1912. All campaign and ballot-initiative contributions and expenditures should be fully disclosed. The option of publicly funding campaigns at local and state levels should be pursued by the legislature or through public initiative.
Quality of Life
Recognizing that quality of life is essential to preserving Montana’s communities, we support local government’s right to protect and enhance a safe, clean and healthful environment for all Montanans. We encourage cooperative efforts between state and local governments to provide needed services. We support allowing local government to determine appropriate revenue sources to meet local needs such as access to health care, affordable housing, quality education and basic services.
Commissioner of Political Practices
We support adequate funding and staffing for the office of the Commissioner of Political Practices to effectively, efficiently and in a timely manner address those campaign financing and political practices over which it has jurisdiction.
We support improving civic literacy to provide for an educated, informed and active citizenry who understands the specific, unique and synergistic roles of local, state, tribal and federal governments.
Free, Fair and Open Elections
We support open and honest election procedures that ensure any citizen entitled to vote be provided that opportunity: late, same-day and online registration, mail ballots for any voter who chooses one and maximum transparency from county and state election administrators. We oppose all efforts to suppress lawful voting through repeal of current practices, the imposition of unnecessary barriers to voting, or intimidation and misinformation schemes.
General & Local Government Plank Resolutions
Resolution in Support of Initiative 166 - The Prohibition on Corporate Contributions and Expenditures in Montana Elections Act
WHEREAS, since 1912, through passage of the Corrupt Practices Act by initiative, Montana has prohibited corporate contributions to and expenditures on candidate elections;
WHEREAS, in 1996, by passage of Initiative No. 125, Montana prohibited corporations from using corporate funds to make contributions to or expenditures on ballot issue campaigns;
WHEREAS, Montana’s 1996 prohibition on corporate contributions to ballot issue campaigns was invalidated by Montana Chamber of Commerce v. Argenbright, 226 F.3d 1049 (2000); and Montana’s 1912 prohibition on corporate contributions to and expenditures on candidate elections is also being challenged under the holding of Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. _____, 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010) and this decision equated the political speech rights of corporations with those of human beings;
WHEREAS, in 2011 the Montana Supreme Court, in its decision, Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General, 2011 MT 328, upheld Montana’s 1912 prohibition on corporate contributions to and expenditures on candidate campaigns, stating in its opinion as follows:
· examples of well-financed corruption involving corporate money abound in Montana history;
· the corporate power that can be exerted with unlimited corporate political spending is still a vital interest to the people of Montana;
· corporate independent spending on Montana ballot issues has far exceeded spending from other sources;
· unlimited corporate money into candidate elections would irrevocably change the dynamic of local Montana political office races;
· with the infusion of unlimited corporate money in support of or opposition to a targeted candidate, the average citizen candidate in Montana would be unable to compete against the corporate-sponsored candidate, and Montana citizens who, for over 100 years, have made their modest election contributions meaningfully count, would be effectively shut out of the process;
· clearly the impact of unlimited corporate donations creates a dominating impact on the Montana political process and inevitably minimizes the impact of individual Montana citizens;
WHEREAS, ballot initiative I-166 would establish a state policy that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings, and charges Montana elected and appointed officials, state and federal, to implement that policy;
WHEREAS, with the passage of I-166 the people of Montana would establish that there should be a level playing field in campaign spending, in part by prohibiting corporate campaign contributions and expenditures and by limiting political spending in elections;
WHEREAS, with the passage of I-166 Montana’s congressional delegation would be charged with proposing a joint resolution offering an amendment to the United States Constitution establishing that corporations are not human beings entitled to constitutional rights;
WHEREAS, I-166 has support from across the political spectrum, including Governor Brian Schweitzer and Lt. Governor Bohlinger, as well as former Secretary of State Verner Bertelsen; and
WHEREAS, I-166 has support from Montana’s small business community, including the Montana Small Business Alliance and American Independent Business Alliance;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana State Democratic Party lends its full support to the passage of Initiative 166 and encourages all Montana voters to support this initiative.
We will work to ensure that every Montanan has access to quality and affordable health care. We support Montanans’ right to choose their health care provider and the privacy of personal medical information. We will provide healthcare coverage to all Montanans, including children, reduce the cost of prescription drugs, maintain the Insure Montana program to provide substantial tax credits to small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees, implement creative approaches to prevent and treat chronic disease, support community-based health care, and help small businesses and non-profit enterprises come together to purchase health insurance. We support a statewide public option.
Health Care Plank Appendix
We will explore affordable and comprehensive prescription drug benefit opportunities for all Montanans.
Health care policies must be designed to recognize and respond to the needs of all Montanans, regardless of age, gender, income or place of residence, especially rural Montanans and Montanans not yet eligible for Medicare.
Health insurance programs should encourage people to exercise preventative care.
Health insurance programs in Montana should provide coverage parity for mental health services.
Any changes to Medicaid must preserve adequate coverage for low-income Montanans currently covered.
Information about options for appropriate health programs and benefits should be provided to Montanans in a simple, understandable way.
We will work to ensure that people insured by private health insurance are not dropped and placed on the Medicaid program.
The Montana Democratic Party supports the Healthy Montana Kids Plan (I-155).
The Healthy Montana Kids Plan includes a strategy for effectively enrolling eligible, uninsured children through schools, hospitals, YMCAs, Head Start programs, and other public and private “enrollment partners.”
We support health insurance reform that promotes guarantee issue, ending insurance company abuses. We support families’ ability to keep children covered under their parents’ health insurance until age 26.
We support the WIC program in all Montana counties.
We support full inclusion of people with disabilities and Montana’s senior citizens in our communities through a well-funded network of community based services.
We support Montanans’ access to preventative and family planning services, through the statewide network of publicly subsidized entities.
Health Care Plank Resolutions
Gambling Addiction Counseling
WHEREAS, gambling is currently legal in the state of Montana, but some individuals suffer from an addiction to gambling;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Democratic Party supports funding for the treatment of pathological gambling addiction.
Addition of Preventive Care Services
WHEREAS, preventive health care and education improves the health of our people and reduces exposure to severe diseases; and
WHEREAS, many Montanans are covered by group insurance and have no opportunity to choose among health care plans; and
WHEREAS, preventive care has proven to be cost effective; and
WHEREAS, preventive care is not presently offered in many health insurance plans;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party promotes measures to encourage or require all health insurance plans to offer coverage for preventive health care services, including coverage for, but not limited to, priority populations identified by the U.S. Preventive Services task force.
Retirement Health Insurance Coverage
WHEREAS, many Montanans lose health care coverage upon retirement; and
WHEREAS, this is particularly harmful for people who retire at an early age;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana Democratic Party supports requiring all group plans to offer retirees comparable health coverage at the current group rate.
Mental Health Coverage
WHEREAS, mental illness does respond to appropriate treatment; and
WHEREAS, coverage for mental illness is often inadequate; and
WHEREAS, Montana currently provides partial parity for mental health;
WHEREAS, the failure to adequately address mental illness often results in higher long-term costs to the individual and to society;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party strongly supports coverage for mental health services and coverage parity for these services.
Tribal Health Care
WHEREAS, the Montana Democratic Party recognizes the unique cultural and socioeconomic needs of American Indians on reservations and in urban settings; and
WHEREAS, there is an overall disparity of health care funding and resources which adversely affects the tribal nations of Montana; and
WHEREAS, many physical and mental diseases are more common among American Indians;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party urges federal and state governments to ensure the equitable and fair delivery of quality, affordable health care to American Indians.
Women's Health Care Decisions
WHEREAS, the number of unwanted pregnancies is best reduced through medically accurate and comprehensive education, planned parenting, safe sex, abstinence, and other alternatives as decided by a woman and her licensed health care provider; and
WHEREAS, a woman, no matter what her age, should be able to make decisions about all aspects of her health care without loss of privacy and confidentiality;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party opposes laws and government interference with the privacy and rights of a woman in making her own health decisions and accessing services.
WHEREAS, Montana and forty other states settled suits against the nation’s tobacco companies to hold them accountable for the billions of dollars of damage they have caused to public health in the United States; and
WHEREAS, Montana will receive nearly one billion dollars over the next twenty-five years; and
WHEREAS, the proceeds of this recovery must be applied to remedy public health problems and risks created by tobacco; and
WHEREAS, tobacco use jeopardizes funding for public health services and threatens the lives of thousands of Montanans; and
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports efforts that dedicate all funds received from the proceeds of litigation against the tobacco industry and interest from the tobacco settlement trust fund to fund public health programs, including, but not limited to, health care for children, smoking cessation and prevention programs, health-related research and health education programs, CHIP, and MCHA.
Stem Cell Research
WHEREAS, science shows that embryonic stem cells are a key to finding cures for diseases including, but not limited to, cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), and spinal cord injury; and
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana Democratic Party supports state and federal funding of stem cell research.
Rural Health Care
WHEREAS, the proximity of quality rural hospitals, nursing homes and medical providers to small communities saves the lives of many critically ill patients;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party supports efforts to maintain and improve funding for rural health care.
Health Care Reform
WHEREAS, Montana Democrats worked hard to bring about real reform of our nation’s health care system; and
WHEREAS, Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester helped lead the fight to pass health care reform legislation that will reform the insurance market, end insurance company abuses, provide health insurance coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans, bring about accountability and better health outcomes, and close the Medicare doughnut hole; and
WHEREAS, thanks to their efforts, health care reform will also reduce the federal deficit, provide tax credits for small businesses and promote an increase in primary care and wellness; and
WHEREAS, the work of health care reform continues;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED,THAT AS MONTANA DEMOCRATS:
We recognize that the future of our state is tied to the health of our citizens. Our businesses will not succeed without healthy workers. Our state will not grow without healthy kids. Our families will not prosper when health care costs force more and more into bankruptcy. We must make health care reform work; and
We believe that we must seize this opportunity to usher in real change in the health insurance industry and hold insurance companies accountable. That means:
We will work to ensure that health care reform works for Montana and keep as much regulation of the health insurance market as possible at the state level, which includes giving the Montana Commissioner of Insurance the authority to take action against insurance companies that unreasonably raise health insurance rates; and
We will push for state involvement and a transition to state management of a health insurance exchange.
We must ensure that there is transparency in the market and that insurance companies spend at least 80% of premium dollars on delivery of health care and not administrative expenses; and
We support federal and state tax credits for small businesses and programs like Insure Montana, which help Montana businesses and not-for-profit enterprises provide health insurance to their employees, and premium assistance and tax credits that will help individuals afford health insurance; and
We believe in a strong Medicare program for our seniors and support new federal reforms, including those that will make over 28,000 Montana seniors eligible for a $250 rebate and begin to close the so-called “doughnut hole” and those that will improve Medicare by adding free annual wellness and preventative services; and
We recognize that the federal expansion of Medicaid will provide access to health care to tens of thousands of Montanans and their children and we will work hard to find a way to provide this new coverage in challenging economic times, making the most of the opportunities available to Montana; and
We stand united in support of the development of the newly formed Montana Health Cooperative (Co-op). Supporting the creation of a company that has as its core principal becoming an insurer in Montana that is “of the people for the people by the people,” that is committed to providing high quality, affordable health insurance options for Montana’s men, women, and their families, is a long-standing democratic tradition.
We also recognize that a strong and vibrant health care community is critical, not only to our personal well-being, but to the economic health of our state. Doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, mental health professionals, dental practitioners, physician assistants and others involved in the delivery of health care play a critical role in shaping our future. Montana Democrats understand the important role state fiscal and tax policy plays in our delivery system. We will work to find solutions to provider shortages in rural Montana. We support the provisions of Health Care Reform that provide primary care Medicare doctors with a payment bonus, and we will encourage growth of community health centers and other creative delivery system reforms to ensure that Montanans continue to have access to world class medical care; and
We understand that an important part of controlling health care costs means that our citizens must lead healthier lives. We applaud efforts to promote wellness, including both ongoing efforts and the provisions of Health Care Reform that require prevention and wellness benefits and the shift from fee for service to outcome-based payment systems; and
While we face many challenges, none is more critical to the personal and economic health of our state. We must make Health Care Reform work for the people of Montana, and, as Montana Democrats, we will.
WHEREAS, diabetes is a serious, costly and increasingly common chronic disease that affects almost 24 million Americans, and millions more are at risk for the disease; and
WHEREAS, diabetes contributes to almost 234,000 deaths a year and is the fifth leading cause of death by disease in the United States; and
WHEREAS, almost 48,000 or 6.4% of adults in Montana were diagnosed with diabetes in 2006 while in 1994 only 2.5% of adults were diagnosed with diabetes, making diabetes one of the most common yet most costly chronic diseases impacting the state; and
WHEREAS, diabetes causes preventable complications that can be life threatening; and
WHEREAS, diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, leg and foot amputations, pregnancy complications, and death related to flu and pneumonia; and
WHEREAS, the leading causes of death in people with diabetes are heart disease and stroke; and
WHEREAS, minority populations, especially Native Americans, suffer from diabetes at rates much higher than the general population and have higher rates of complications associated with the disease; and
WHEREAS, geographic regions home to communities of Native Americans of Montana saw staggering increases in the rate of diabetes; and
WHEREAS, though Native Americans only represent 6.8% of the population, about 25% (or 12,000) of all cases of diagnosed diabetes among Montana adults are Native Americans; and
WHEREAS, federal funding provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for state-run diabetes control programs decreased 4.3% in FY 2009 with a greater than 12% reduction in program funding for the Montana program suggests government focus is not upon the needs of people impacted by diabetes in Montana.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports implementing programs and coordinated efforts to reach and motivate people diagnosed with diabetes and their healthcare teams in Montana to obtain and provide appropriate medical care to prevent, diagnose and treat diabetes while reducing the risk of complications associated with the disease. Efforts that allow Montana’s Native American communities, tribes and the state to implement efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat diabetes while reducing the burdens associated with the disease for Native Americans living with or at-risk for diabetes should also be implemented. Efforts must also be undertaken to assess the work currently underway in the state aimed at reaching populations living with diabetes to ensure the efforts are reducing the impact of diabetes complications in Montana. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal government entities are called upon to provide Montana with relevant and necessary resources to prevent, detect and treat the population impacted by the epidemic of diabetes in Montana.
Care for Elderly Montanans
WHEREAS, by 2015, US Census data indicates one out of four (1 of 4) Montanans will be age 65 or older as the baby boomer generation matures; and
WHEREAS, at that point, Montana will rank 4th in the nation in percentage of population 65 and older and 3rd in the nation in percentage of its population aged 85 and older; and
WHEREAS, by 2015, there will be more elderly people living in Montana than there are elementary, secondary and post-secondary students, with some approximately 250,000 elderly over age 65, and only 143,000 school-age children, and 40,000 post-secondary students; and
WHEREAS, those elderly residents will increasingly need and demand assistance and services, such as home health care, adult day care, assisted living and nursing home care, as they age and live longer lives; and
WHEREAS, currently, annual care costs in Montana for nursing homes average nearly $60,000, for assisted living average almost $34,000, for part–time adult day care average $17,500, and for full-time home health care are $45,000 to $60,000 per year; and
WHEREAS, the majority of those Montana elderly will be considered low to moderate income, having incomes of less than $25,000 per year; and
WHEREAS, Montana currently grants only a very limited number of Medicaid waivers for any alternative kind of elder care services and facilities, other than nursing homes;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that to better meet the needs of Montana’s rapidly growing elderly population, the Montana Democratic Party supports the implementation of legislative and administrative policies and procedures that will substantially increase the flexibility for low and moderate income seniors in need of alternative elder care services and facilities other than nursing homes, and look for ways to help seniors buy into long-term care federal insurance.
WHEREAS, the voters of Montana approved by initiative the compassionate use of medical marijuana
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana Democratic Party supports the right of qualified patients, with a medical condition where marijuana is appropriate, to have safe access to medical marijuana.
WHEREAS, scientific research provides high-paying quality jobs, advances the frontiers of our knowledge and improves the quality of life for Montanans;
THERFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana Democratic Party supports a state-based funding system to support scientific research in our public universities and affiliated private institutes.
Every human being has unique worth and must be given a fair and equal opportunity to fulfill his or her potential. We support the right to hold one’s personal beliefs without interference from those with different beliefs. We oppose restrictive legislation or governmental intervention into the private decisions of all Montanans. We must ensure all Montanans are free from harassment and discrimination, and are treated equally before the law, regardless of race, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, language, national origin, physical or mental ability, or marital status. We support cooperation between public, private, non-profit and faith-based organizations in providing policies and services that strengthen all families and communities. Individuals and their families should have access to the basic necessities of life, which include, but are not limited to, health care, education, shelter, adequate nutrition and lives free of violence.
Human Rights & Social Services Plank Appendix
We acknowledge that a democratic society cannot survive without the support of and respect for the diversity of all Montanans.
Rights of Children and Families
We support necessary steps to strengthen all families, regardless of structure. Specifically, we strongly endorse measures that protect the health and safety of Montana's children. We deplore policies that hurt children's welfare or their fundamental right to access basic necessities. These basic needs should be provided for all children regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, creed, religion, national origin, legal status, or physical or mental ability.
We strongly encourage funding domestic violence and child abuse prevention through education, early intervention, more resources for shelters, treatment, including residential treatment, and personnel to work on these programs. We support strong accountability for those found guilty of assault on a partner or family member. We affirm that children usually thrive best in the care of their families, but that in cases of abuse, children's rights to protection must take priority while permanent placement be addressed under established guidelines.
We strongly support communities in creating environments free from fear, violence and harassment.
Rights of Working Montanans and their Dependents
We encourage workplace environments that allow individuals to meet their dependents’ needs and responsibilities, including a living wage, healthcare, flex time, family medical leave and employer-assisted childcare. Recognizing the significant and broad impact the lack of pay equity has on Montana families, we support continued efforts to achieve pay equity. We support the continuation of affirmative action to provide opportunities for all people to pursue meaningful, substantial, and gainful activity. Regarding nondiscrimination in the workplace, we support the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in the Montana Human Rights Act. We further support the well-being of children by encouraging programs that recognize parenting as valued work.
We believe that the federal government should continue its historic commitment to senior citizens by supporting Social Security and Medicare programs, railroad and all federal retirement programs, and the Federal Older Americans Act. We strongly oppose any privatization of Social Security.
As the longevity of the population increases, so does the need to maintain or enlarge services for adequate housing and assistance in living at home. Further, community-based services should be designed to help citizens maintain independence. We strongly support ombudsman and advocacy services in all facets of senior living experiences and endorse measures that protect the health and safety of Montana's seniors.
Dignity of Life and Death
We affirm the dignity of life and an individual’s right to make end-of-life decisions.
Persons with Special Needs
We support the right of all persons with special needs to be served in the least restrictive environment appropriate. Therefore, we continue our commitment to expansion of community-based programs, including early intervention as well as services for unserved and under-served Montanans. We further advocate increased awareness of the need to provide full accessibility in workplaces, parking, theaters, courthouses, schools and other public facilities.
We support the philosophy of and full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to allow everyone to lead a productive, dignified life. We further encourage public and private employers to hire people with special needs and to provide appropriate workplace accommodations.
We support federal, state, local, tribal, and private efforts to ensure all Montanans are guaranteed their inalienable right to essential human dignity and life’s basic necessities. Our society must share the responsibility of ensuring that individuals unable to provide for themselves are afforded the means to meet their needs and to assure their long-term self- sufficiency.
Housing should be available to all regardless of race, creed, age, gender, marital or legal status, family structure, sexual orientation or physical/mental ability.
We support safe, affordable and accessible housing for all Montanans, particularly programs for low-income people including low-rent housing and availability of low-interest loans to assist in purchasing homes.
We recognize the important role of renters in funding every level of government and their right to participate in policy discussions.
We support the efforts of municipalities to protect the health and safety of all residents within their communities.
We support efforts to reach out to help homeless men, women, and children find and secure decent, safe, and accessible shelter, to obtain social services, and to assist them in finding means of supporting themselves when they are able. We support emergency, transitional and long-term programs.
We believe nutrition programs to feed the hungry should be strengthened and the causes of hunger addressed, as the number of homeless and hungry is rising and privately funded volunteer food programs are less able to meet demands. We believe that government should support and fund nutrition programs to feed the hungry and address the underlying causes of hunger.
We support repealing Section 7, Article 13 of the Montana Constitution. All adults should have the right to legally marry another adult of their choice, regardless of sex or gender. We believe same-sex spouses should have the same legal benefits, protections and responsibilities granted to all those who marry.
Human Rights & Social Services Plank Resolutions
WHEREAS, violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression is real, exists in Montana, and is a common occurrence; and
WHEREAS, current law does not offer sufficient redress for victims of crimes committed against individuals due to their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that sexual orientation, gender identity and expression should be included in the Montana Hate Crimes Act.
Predatory Lending Practices
WHEREAS, credit is a vital part of the modern economy for businesses; and
WHEREAS, the people of Montana depend on access to loans and credit for all manner of purchases;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democrats oppose lending practices that prey upon persons or institutions of disadvantaged economic means; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we encourage responsible lending practices with reasonable rates of return, conducted fairly and in good faith. This includes building community initiatives to educate consumers and encouraging financial institutions to create lending programs that meet these community needs.
Human Trafficking must be Stopped Resolution
WHEREAS, human rights groups estimate that millions are enslaved in forced or bonded labor, child labor, sexual servitude and involuntary servitude at any given time; and
WHEREAS, to stop the human trafficking trade, educating societies about this inhumane treatment is the first step; and
WHEREAS, this trade industry is degrading to the victims and most often violent towards defenseless children and women;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, Montana Democrats advocate for support and treatment for victims of human trafficking and demand that predators be brought to justice.
WHEREAS, the 2011 Montana Legislature cut $500,000 for contraceptive services provided by the DPHHS;
THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED, the Montana Democrats oppose the cut in funding; and
THEREFORE, LET IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED, the Montana Democrats support full restoration of $500,000 to Department of Public Health and Human Services in support of Title X for contraceptive services.
We support the right to keep and bear arms as defined in both the Montana and U.S. Constitutions. We recognize that hunting, fishing, trapping, and other outdoor recreation activities are essential components of the Montana culture. We also believe that the opportunity for Montana families to enjoy nature’s bounty is an important part of our state’s heritage. We support the public ownership of the fish, wildlife, streams and rivers of our state, and believe that the state holds these resources in trust for the beneficial use of its citizens. As such, we believe that Montanans are entitled to reasonable access to these public resources, consistent with private property rights, and that no commercial entity should be allowed to hold a vested interest in them.
Hunting, Fishing & Outdoor Recreation Activities Plank Appendix
We affirm Montanans’ right to participate in fair chase hunting, fishing, trapping, and outdoor recreation on our public lands as part of our state’s heritage. We believe that public access to public lands is an important part of our existing traditions.
Access to public lands and waters should be maintained and increased, and public lands should not be diminished in size or recreational quality. We oppose any net loss of publically owned lands.
We will defend, without compromise, Montana’s Stream Access Law, including the public’s right to access streams at public bridges.
We recognize and appreciate the contribution of private landowners to plentiful and healthy fish and wildlife populations, including the public access they provide. We support appropriate incentives to compensate landowners for the impact of hunting and fishing as well as the maintenance of wildlife habitat on private land.
We reject any program that would allow the private sale of wildlife or any tags or permits intended to legally authorize the harvest of wildlife by any source other than the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
We are committed to stemming and reversing the increasing trend toward privatization and commercialization of public fish and wildlife resources in this state. We are in favor of using existing authority to elevate public interest over commercial interest in hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities in the state.
We believe that commissions and boards that are charged with influencing public resource policy shall be composed of diverse stakeholders and be required to represent the diverse interests and values of Montana’s citizenry.
We recognize that chronic wasting disease, whirling disease and other wildlife afflictions are potentially devastating to Montana’s fish and wildlife populations. The same is true of habitat degradation brought about by the spread of noxious weeds and invasive aquatic species. Therefore, we advocate the development of aggressive research, prevention and control programs on private and public land.
We support responsible travel management planning that insures resource and private property protection while allowing reasonable public access and minimizing conflicts.
We believe that public hunting continues to be the most appropriate tool to successfully manage wildlife populations. Public hunting has been a valuable part of the most successful wildlife management system ever devised. Rejection of this method often leads to problems of overpopulation and unbalanced age and gender segments within big game herds.
Jobs & Economic Growth
We support the development of opportunities that assist Montana’s profit and nonprofit businesses, attract quality employers, and address the needs of responsible businesses, both large and small. Our policies must foster a healthy and prosperous business climate that respects and protects Montana. We are committed to increasing both the number and quality of jobs in Montana, jobs that provide good salaries, benefits and a healthy, safe workplace. Democrats support efforts to strengthen and diversify the economy by creating growth in all sectors throughout the entire state, including rural Montana and Indian Country. We believe that creating quality jobs and preserving our quality way of life can be accomplished together. We believe in educating a Montana-made workforce that can fill the jobs that Montana is creating. It’s our responsibility to make sure new workers, and those who have lost their jobs, have access to education and training that fit the jobs of the 21st century. Businesses, educational institutions, and government should work together to ensure Montana’s children can stay and work in Montana.
Jobs & Economic Growth Plank Appendix
We support economic growth that fosters an equitable and positive business/worker atmosphere, promoting good-paying jobs with benefits that allow all Montana workers to share in prosperity while respecting traditional Montana values.
Unemployment remains a challenge. In order to meet the employment needs of Montanans, we must develop opportunities in the new economy. We can create jobs while preserving our priceless natural heritage.
Solid communities and strong infrastructure are the foundation for economic growth. Montana must provide tools with funding that foster business growth and sustainability at all levels – local, regional, and statewide. We support continued or expanded support for critical programs such as State Revolving Loan Fund, (SRF), (Treasure State Endowment Program (TSEP), Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), and Community Transportation Enhancement Program (CTEP). These programs improve critical water, sewer, and road systems, particularly in rural Montana. These should include access to affordable capital for small businesses, available and affordable transportation, including full-service air, rail and bus travel, workforce development, and high-speed telecommunications. Federal, state, tribal, and local transportation systems are fundamental to Montana’s economy.
We recognize that effective business development requires safe, strong, and effective communities. We are committed to providing Montana communities with universally accessible medical services, quality public education, a clean environment, clean water and sanitary services. Effective communities require proper growth planning in order to provide decent attainable housing and transportation.
We encourage sustainable economic activity that responsibly utilizes Montana’s resources and maximizes the public benefit of dollars spent in our state. This includes producing products in Montana from Montana resources and supporting Montana-owned businesses. Procurement of goods and services by Montana government should promote expansion of markets for Montana businesses. We support promoting Montana through tourism and Montana-made products and services in the global marketplace.
We advocate the development of opportunities that assist existing businesses and attract quality employers. Examples include employer training in personnel areas, workforce development and training, matching money for research in our university system, local access to telecommunications technologies, continued support for economic development councils, and government incentives for job creation.
Democrats recognize the importance of existing businesses in Montana. Small business provides most of the jobs in Montana. We want to strengthen our commitment to growing small business in rural communities. We recognize their unique circumstances and support policies that encourage efforts to start small businesses, equal and fair access to capital, timely information and services, simplified governmental procedures, and access to technical assistance.
We believe government should be of service to business growth. We support emphasis on the importance of workforce training and education in the success of economic development; accessible and affordable public higher education and training; quality K-12 public schools that prepare students for workforce participation; strategic and planned investment in Montana’s educational, transportation, and information infrastructure; an affordable workers' compensation system that protects the interests of employers and employees; simplified licensing procedures; and incentives to provide adequate benefits to workers, including health care and retirement benefits.
We believe that for Montanans to prosper in a highly competitive international economy, we must promote "fair trade" agreements that enhance and improve the export value of Montana products, thus protecting Montana jobs.
We support federal funding for the development of science and technology centers of excellence connected to, and sharing faculty with, Montana’s universities and colleges. Such centers would attract manufacturing, high tech, and rural agricultural private industry to Montana.
Jobs & Economic Growth Plank Resolutions
WHEREAS, Montana’s roadways are growing congested, we face a dwindling supply of oil, and trains are the most energy-efficient way to move people; and
WHEREAS, the cost of owning and driving a car is growing increasingly more expensive, so working Montanans need transportation alternatives; and
WHEREAS, commercial airline service to most communities in Montana is inadequate and at risk of further reductions and/or ending altogether; and
WHEREAS, as a result of global climate change, we need to take every possible step to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and
WHEREAS, AMTRAK was created in 1971 from what remained of the private passenger railroads; and
WHEREAS, the AMTRAK Empire Builder is the number one long-distance passenger train in the United States, with over ninety percent on-time performance, and is greatly needed for the citizens of Montana’s Hi-Line who have limited public transportation options; and
WHEREAS, the North Coast Hiawatha is a former AMTRAK route that ceased operation through southern Montana in 1979; and
WHEREAS, transportation to and from the major population centers of southern Montana would be greatly enhanced by resuming AMTRAK rail passenger service; and
WHEREAS, the Congress and AMTRAK Corporation have opened the door to new AMTRAK routes and the State of Montana is studying the opportunity for a southern rail passenger route;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports the continuation of AMTRAK passenger rail service along the Hi-Line and the reintroduction of AMTRAK passenger rail service to southern Montana.
Resolution Applauding the Efforts of Montana Democratic Elected Officials in Economic Development
WHEREAS, the Montana Democratic Party has assisted in the election of Democratic officials who have been dedicated to economic development and job creation across the entire state; and
WHEREAS, those same Democratic elected officials have committed themselves to achieving better, high-quality jobs in a manner that does not reduce the quality of life in Montana;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party applauds the efforts of Governor Brian Schweitzer; U. S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester; other statewide, regionally and locally elected Democratic officials, and Democratic members of the state legislature for their efforts in support of quality economic development across the entire state of Montana, which has led to a strengthened economy in many areas and improved opportunities for economic growth throughout the entire state.
Public State Bank
WHEREAS, Montana needs to look at new ways to increase jobs and economic stability in our communities;
THERFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED, Montana Democrats support any and all studies being conducted to look at the North Dakota Public Banking System and see how it could apply to the need for economic development and reduction of unemployment in Montana. The history and structure of the North Dakota Public Banking System tells us of its success and is considered an economic “miracle.”
We support a free and independent judiciary. We support the right of all people to assert their rights in the courts. The proper role of government is to support the private choices of its citizens, protect citizens from hate crimes and violence in any form, and to provide safe communities while emphasizing personal and corporate responsibility and accountability. Early intervention, prevention, and treatment at the local level are critical to success in curbing crime.
Judiciary Plank Appendix
Importance of a Free and Independent Judiciary
We support a free and independent judiciary. The judiciary should not be influenced by or concerned with any personal prejudice, political or religious dogma, or personal agenda. We oppose political party endorsements of judicial candidates.
The proper role of government is to support the private choices of all citizens, and to protect all citizens from hate crimes and violence in any form.
All people have the right to feel safe and secure and should be assured that criminal acts will be dealt with swiftly and fairly. The criminal justice system and all Montanans should emphasize personal responsibility and accountability. Montana’s criminal justice system should require victim and community restitution by the offender. We support funding of the crime victim’s compensation fund.
The criminal justice system should focus on early intervention, prevention, and rehabilitation. We support alternatives to incarceration for non-dangerous offenders, including community-based corrections and restorative justice programs. We support fair and just incarceration that is commensurate with the crime. Prisoners and correction dollars should remain in Montana
All Montanans must assume responsibility for the state’s youth by valuing children and families. Early intervention, prevention, treatment and consistent sanctions are critical to success in curbing youth crime through a comprehensive approach, involving cooperation among community agencies and families.
Right to Keep and Bear Arms
We support the right to keep and bear arms. We support increased efforts to keep guns out of the hands of unsupervised children and affirm the value of gun safety and hunter education programs.
We support crime prevention through government and community efforts to fight domestic violence, youth violence, child abuse and neglect, and substance abuse.
Corporations must be held responsible and accountable for their actions to the full extent of the law.
Access to Justice through the Courts
We support the right of all people to assert their rights under our state and federal constitutions and statutes in the courts, including expanding resources to assist self-represented litigants and ensuring equal access to justice regardless of income.
We support the protection of all Montanans against fraudulent financial practices, including financial scams, and fraudulent internet and telemarketing practices by providing adequate resources to law enforcement professionals, preservation of access to our state courts and renewed insistence on corporate accountability.
Judiciary Plank Resolutions
Resolution on Public Funding of Judicial Races
WHEREAS, in order for the rule of law to continue in our state and nation, we need a free and independent judiciary; and
WHEREAS, history has shown us that the necessity of raising funds for political campaigns, and the sources of those funds, may influence the judgment and actions of some political candidates; and
WHEREAS, it is vital that our judiciary be free from any influence other than the rule of law;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana Democratic Party supports public funding of judicial races at all levels of government.
Resolution on Citizens United vs. FEC
WHEREAS, the Citizens United Supreme Court opinion overturned years of hard-fought campaign finance law, and made corporate interests more powerful; and
WHEREAS, corporation can now spend unlimited amounts of money to influence the outcome of elections;
WHEREAS, 100 years ago Montana’s citizens passed a voter initiative to protect the voices and voters of Montana in order to keep elections in the hands of the people;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party strongly supports reform including amendment to the U.S. constitution to ensure that citizens’ voices are not drowned out by special interests and highly financed corporate interests. These reforms should also ensure that foreign corporations and foreign nationals be prohibited from spending money to influence American elections. We support Attorney General Steve Bullock’s efforts to protect and defend Montana’s campaign finance laws.
Resolution on the Vigorous Prosecution of Investment Scams and Embezzlement
WHEREAS, business and investment are necessary to a healthy economy; and
WHEREAS, crimes such as investment scams, embezzlement and theft discourage, harm and even ruin investors and businesses; and
WHEREAS, labeling such crimes as “white collar” crimes diminishes the serious harm of such crimes to individuals and businesses and thereby the economy; and
WHEREAS, this minimizing of the harms of scams has a detrimental effect on attracting and keeping investment and business; and
WHEREAS, a healthy economy benefits the citizens of the state;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we support introducing legislation or amending of existing law to ensure criminal prosecution and stringent punishment of investment scams, embezzlement and anyone who professionally preys on individuals, businesses, institutions, or the elderly for financial gain by way of deceit.
Stable jobs with livable wages are the cornerstone of family values. The vast majority of Montanans make their living as wage earners, relying on fair compensation for their labor in order to sustain and build their communities, raise their families, and educate their children. All workers deserve a safe and healthy workplace, just compensation for job-related injury, and unemployment benefits when they suffer loss of their job. We support the right of workers to organize, bargain collectively and strike, if necessary, without threat of permanent replacement. We oppose so-called "right-to-work" and any legislation or initiatives that would skew the political balance of power or restrict the use of union dues for political or legislative activities.
Labor Plank Appendix
We recognize and celebrate the basic honor and dignity of work. We recognize that the vast majority of Montana men and women make their living as wage earners, relying on fair compensation for their labor in order to raise their families, educate their children, and sustain and build communities. We strive to represent working families by standing on these basic principles.
Democracy in the Workplace
We recognize that free collective bargaining is the primary and often only avenue for workers to achieve fair wages, safe and healthful working conditions, and protection against arbitrary and unfair treatment in the workplace. We support democracy in the workplace as well as in the political arena, and strongly defend the right of workers to form and join independent unions for the purpose of bargaining collectively. We oppose attempts to restrict collective bargaining through open shop laws (falsely labeled "right-to-work") and we support labor law reforms that will increase the ability of workers to form and join unions without employer interference.
We regard the relationship between employee and employer as a contract between equals. We believe that the right to withhold one's labor, the right to strike, in the resolution of a labor/management dispute is a basic human right and we therefore oppose the use of "permanent replacements" to undermine that right.
We believe that public employees should enjoy the same rights and deserve the same respect and protections afforded private sector workers and we oppose any weakening of those rights and protections.
Equality in the workplace
We support the basic right of all people to have equal access to meaningful employment so that they and their families may live with dignity.
We support nondiscriminatory practices in hiring, promotions, working conditions, and compensation, regardless of any distinction that has no bearing on a worker's ability to fulfill job duties.
We support equal pay for equal work and commensurate pay for work of comparable worth.
Family and Work
We recognize that stable jobs with fair wages are the cornerstone of family values.
We believe that no worker should have to choose between keeping a job and fulfilling family responsibilities. We believe that, through such protections as family and medical leave, as well as employer-assisted child and elder care programs, the workplace can and should be structured to allow workers to meet their families' needs.
We believe that children deserve to spend their childhood learning, playing and growing rather than working to support themselves and their families. We, therefore, support strong prohibitions against child labor and strong protections for young adult workers with appropriate employment.
We believe that retired workers deserve to live in dignity and with the respect earned by a lifetime of hard work and contributions to their families and communities. We therefore support strong protections for Social Security, pensions, and Medicare. We believe that public and private retirement funds are the property of employees and should be protected as such. We support legislation to ensure the establishment and protection of defined benefit plans for both public and private portable pension systems that allow workers to move pension coverage between places of employment. We believe in equal taxation of retirees' benefits.
Full and Meaningful Employment
We believe that no worker willing and able to engage in full-time work should be forced to raise his or her family in poverty due to unemployment, underemployment, or inadequate compensation for employment.
We strongly support the creation of meaningful jobs by responsible businesses that provide livable wages and benefits. We strongly oppose the practice of hiring part-time or leased employees in order to avoid or reduce paying fringe benefits, including health insurance and retirement benefits.
We believe that any building project supported with taxpayers dollars should require that workers be paid the prevailing wage rate for their work, and that any public funds in the form of tax breaks, tax deferments, loans or grants used for economic development be tied to the creation of jobs which pay livable wages and provide adequate benefits.
We believe Montanans should get the best value for their tax dollars on public construction works. We support best value bidding and project labor agreements.
We oppose the use of prison labor to replace workers on jobs normally performed by public or private sector workers. We support skill-training programs that enable prisoners to obtain employment upon release.
We believe that continuing education increases the ability of both workers and businesses to compete in a changing marketplace. We support quality education, training and skills upgrading programs for all Montana workers.
Basic Workplace Standards
We believe that workers, employers and government, together, can achieve safe, productive, healthy workplaces, improve the quality of our shared environment and build communities that can sustain and educate Montana families.
We support increases in the minimum wage indexed annually to increases in the cost of living to offer some minimal protection to those workers at the lowest end of the economic scale.
We believe that no workers should be forced to risk their health or their life in order to earn a living. We affirm that a safe and healthful work environment is a basic right of all workers and believe that government should promote, protect and enforce workplace health and safety standards.
We believe that worker’s compensation must sustain the worker and his or her dependents in time of injury and/or occupational illness.
We believe that unemployment insurance must be available to all workers and must sustain the worker and his or her dependents in time of job loss due to seasonal employment, dislocation or layoff. We also believe that workers should receive unemployment insurance during a labor dispute when the employer continues to operate during the strike or lockout.
We believe in efficient and effective government and believe that efficient and effective government is not achieved by privatization of public services. We are, therefore, opposed to privatization of public services.
We support fair trade; however, we vehemently oppose normalization of permanent relations with all countries who engage in religious persecution, child labor abuses, forced prison labor, environmental degradation, or forcibly oppose the rights of workers to form unions. We believe Congress should have a greater say in trade agreements and should have the ability to amend trade agreements.
Labor Plank Resolutions
In Support of Collective Bargaining in Reclamation/Restoration Projects
WHEREAS, the Montana State Constitution guarantees a clean and healthy environment; and
WHEREAS, a healthy social and cultural environment includes good-paying jobs with health insurance, retirement benefits and working conditions that allow workers to live and work in dignity; and
WHEREAS, restoration and reclamation are producing and can continue to produce many jobs, along with a healthier natural environment; and
WHEREAS, the State of Montana is committed to both a healthy environment and good-paying jobs, as demonstrated at the Governor’s Reclamation/Restoration Forum;
THERFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party is committed to protecting Montana’s natural environment, along with the economic and social well-being of its residents;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party is committed to reclamation and restoration efforts where work is performed under collective bargaining agreements, with sustainable union jobs, defined benefits, and workforce development through apprenticeship programs.
Job Training Programs in Emerging Economies
WHEREAS, the State of Montana has a vested interest in developing a competent and diverse workforce; and
WHEREAS, defining a strong workforce for Montana in the 21st century must include programs to train people for the emerging restoration economy, and the transition of workers to fill emerging trades; and
WHEREAS, Montana has and must continue to have an education system that leads the way in training workers for a changing economy; and
WHEREAS, currently Montana’s unions provide skilled training and apprenticeship programs that have made Montana workers the envy of surrounding states; and
WHEREAS, we are now involved in a worldwide economy that demands that we all roll up our sleeves and meet the new demands on our workers and our resources;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana Democratic Party urges the State of Montana and Montana labor unions to cooperate in developing programs to train and prepare the workers of Montana for tomorrow’s jobs
Support for Rail Transportation Study
WHEREAS, fuel prices have increased with no end in sight due to foreign oil increase costs; and
WHEREAS, Montana’s rural/urban travel distances have become costly for individuals and small businesses; and
WHEREAS, rail passenger train services across Montana’s southern east/west rail routes would alleviate travel and express costs;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports Senator Jon Tester’s amendment to the Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2007 (S294), requiring AMTRAK to perform a study to reinstate the former North Coast/Hiawatha passenger train, to operate with direct connection with the Empire Builder at Fargo, North Dakota and Spokane, Washington; and
THEREFORE, BE IT FUTHER RESOLVED the study should consider the rail routes traversing BNSF track from Fargo, North Dakota to Billings, Montana, Montana Rail Link (MRL) to Logan Montana via BNSF – Butte- Garrison MRL to Spokane, Washington. The Logan – Butte – Garrison route makes up running time, arising from lost time made by Coast/Hiawatha operated in 1979.
Support for Collective Bargaining
WHEREAS, national and local organizations are seeking to weaken a worker’s constitutional right to collectively bargain with his/her employer by pushing so-called “right-to-work” laws; and
WHEREAS, the National Right to Work Committee has invested significant money in our state targeting pro-worker legislators; and
WHEREAS, the State of Montana—with full support of the Montana Democratic Party— has always supported collective bargaining both in the public and private sector; and
WHEREAS, the Republican Party adopted language in their Platform hostile to a Montana worker’s right to collectively bargain with his/her employer;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party unequivocally reaffirms our strong support and commitment to a worker’s right to collectively bargain both public and private sector employees with his/her employer and our opposition to so-called (but falsely labeled) “right to work” laws.
A Resolution of the Montana Democratic Party urging elected officials to address the egregious practice of worker misclassification
WHEREAS, worker misclassification is a deceptive effort by bad-acting employers to purposely identify workers as independent contractors to avoid paying employee-related expenses such as Unemployment Insurance and Worker’s Compensation; and
WHEREAS, misclassified workers are robbed of basic workplace protections under federal and state law which have protected employees for more than a century, including the National Labor Relations Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act and even the Americans with Disabilities Act; and
WHEREAS, misclassified workers are often denied healthcare benefits and retirement benefits from their bad-acting employers; and
WHEREAS, bad-acting employers save nearly 30% on worker-related expenses due to misclassification, forcing employers who play by the rules to cover unnecessary added expenses; and
WHEREAS, federal and state governments lose billions of dollars annually due to this egregious practice; and the federal government loses nearly $4.7 billion annually while fifteen states which compiled dollar amounts fixed to worker misclassification lose more than $3.2 billion collectively each year; and
WHEREAS, statistics suggest this practice is increasing in frequency, forcing federal and state governments to take unprecedented steps to crack down on bad-acting employers.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE MONTANA DEMOCRATIC PARTY THAT:
Worker misclassification fundamentally challenges much-needed protections for workers and compromises state government.
The federal and Montana state governments should take all necessary steps to eliminate this egregious practice under wage-and-hour, fair labor standards, worker’s compensation, and unemployment insurance laws.
All efforts will consider every industry in which worker misclassification exists.
The Montana Democratic Party supports the continued protection of Montana’s independent contractors’ enforcement program.
A Resolution thanking Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester
WHEREAS, in the past four years, American retirement funds have been depleted as we have struggled through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression; and
WHEREAS, people who have worked their entire lives making regular contributions to their pension plans now face an uncertain future as their retirement funds fluctuate with an unsteady market; and
WHEREAS, the harmful effects of the recession have underscored the urgent need to work with organized labor to develop policy that prioritizes the needs of working families at each stage of their lives, from entry into the workforce to well-earned retirement; and
WHEREAS, multi-employer pension plans have worked for our grandparents and parents, and thanks to the continued support of our Congressional delegation, they will work well for our children and grandchildren as well;
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, on behalf of working families across Montana, we the delegates of the Montana Democratic Party would like to express our deepest gratitude and thanks to Sen. Max Baucus and Sen. Jon Tester for their support of HB 4213, ensuring and protecting the pensions of thousands of working and retired union members.
Montana Democrats gratefully remember Senator Mike Mansfield’s quiet insistence that America treat all nations and peoples with the same dignity and respect that we expect of one another. We support democratic policies and actions that will lead to global stability and promote human equality and civil rights for all peoples of the world. We encourage the use of diplomacy as a means to improve communication and peace efforts among all nations. We seek to empower people and nations with positive efforts to improve people’s lives, including foreign aid that meets basic human needs.
Peace & Foreign Policy Plank Appendix
We recognize that Montana’s people, land, and economy are interconnected with the world as a whole. We therefore support fair trade practices and the promotion of Montana products and services in the global marketplace. We support policies that promote human and civil rights, including the right to political and economic self-determination, for all peoples of the world, and we encourage debt forgiveness for impoverished nations.
We support democratic policies and actions that will lead to global stability and nuclear, chemical, and biological disarmament.
We recognize the importance of seeking multilateral solutions to global problems.
We support foreign aid that meets basic human needs rather than the supplying of military equipment.
We affirm the need to reduce the risk of war; abide by international treaties to which the United States is a signatory, especially the Geneva Conventions; combat terrorism; and promote peace while continually re-assessing our global military policy.
We support environmental and energy policies that protect and encourage environmental health as a foundation for peace and stability in the world.
Peace & Foreign Policy Plank Resolutions
Resolution Reaffirming US Military withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan
WHEREAS, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have continued to drain vital resources from domestic programs;
WHEREAS, Montana has one of the highest per capita military participation rates in the nation;
WHEREAS, the extended deployment of National Guard Soldiers and Airmen is a burden to Montana families and communities;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Montana Democratic Party affirms the President’s policy to withdraw troops from Iraq and encourages the speedy drawdown of troops in Afghanistan.
We believe that public education is the foundation of democracy. We recognize and defend the Montana Constitution’s guarantee of quality and equity of educational opportunities for all students. We affirm an adequately funded educational system promotes a higher quality of life for children, families, and communities and fosters employment opportunities and promotes social justice. We are committed to keeping neighborhood and community schools under local control. We insist that local school districts and local public libraries be guaranteed the resources necessary to promote academic achievement, access to information and the development of innovation, collaboration, and creativity.
Recognizing that education is key to improving quality of life and economic growth, we support all of our Montana public education environments: early childhood, K-12, Adult Basic and Literacy Education-GED, career and technical education, two year colleges, tribal colleges, and the university system. The state must provide adequate and equitable funding to assure that post-secondary education is affordable to all Montanans.
We support programs to develop and exhibit artistic talent, preserve and interpret historic sites, and provide cultural and educational opportunities, including libraries and museums, for all Montana citizens.
We recognize the importance of preserving and promoting Montana’s cultural and historical heritage, including Indian Education for All (Article X, Section 1, Subsection 2 of the Montana Constitution).
Public Education Plank Appendix
We as Montana Democrats believe:
Montana’s Cultural and Historical Heritage
General Philosophy of Public Education
The goal of education is to create individual fulfillment and to nurture a democratic, productive, and responsible citizenry.
· High-quality early childhood education helps prepare young children to succeed in school and become better citizens.
· Head Start and other early childhood programs are a vital component of our children’s educational experience.
· A strong public educational system is essential for economic development.
· Public education promotes lifelong learning skills that increase employment opportunities.
· A strong educational system depends on a respectful partnership among students, educators, parents and communities.
· We affirm our support for Montana’s constitutional promise that every Montanan learn about the distinct and unique cultural heritage of American Indian people and tribes, and we are committed to the preservation of American Indian cultural integrity.
· We recognize the disparity in educational achievement and high school completion rate between Indian and non-Indian students in our K-12 schools in Montana and support policy and funding for educational services designed to bring equity for American Indian Students.
· Quality education is based on high, rigorous, and clear academic standards.
· Our children should learn the skills to become responsible citizens and leaders in the local and broader community.
· In expanding opportunities for ongoing educator professional development and mentorship programs.
· Providing access to educational technology is fundamental to quality learning.
· Arts education is an essential component of a quality education.
· Schools must be academically accountable to prepare students for advanced learning.
· In order to recruit and retain quality professional educators for Head Start through higher education, Montana’s public schools must provide salaries and benefits that are nationally competitive.
Adult Education and Literacy
· In assuring that Americans are the best-skilled, best-trained workers in the world.
· Adult basic education and literacy programs afford our citizens the opportunity to upgrade their skills to support 21st century jobs and participate fully in civic life.
· In supporting high quality online learning so that Americans everywhere can learn from experts anywhere, at any time, and in any place.
· Opportunities for lifelong learning will also keep America competitive in a global economy, will help to break the cycle of illiteracy, and enrich democracy.
· Education of our youth is the responsibility of all Montanans.
· Control of our schools should remain community-based.
· All children deserve to be educated in a safe environment, free of violence and intimidation.
· Public education is a top priority for the use of public funds.
· All Montanans must be guaranteed a publicly supported, quality education including early childhood education, K-12, and post-secondary.
· The State of Montana must not shift the responsibility of funding public education to local taxpayers. The state is responsible for fully funding a quality education.
· Schools must be fiscally accountable to their communities.
· Every school should receive a basic funding entitlement.
· We support Indian education for all for k-12 and ask the Montana University System to include adequate funding for Indian Education for All at all units of the University System.
· We support sufficient funding for quality higher education including the university system, community colleges, vocational, technical, and adult education.
· All Montanans must have affordable access to quality post-secondary education that addresses their needs and goals as lifelong learners.
· Montana must reduce its reliance on increasing student tuition for higher education funding by increasing state support.
· Post-secondary programs should be flexible enough to meet the realities of our changing economy, advancements in technology and the needs of the state.
· Post-secondary education creates economic development and advances the quality of life for Montanans.
· We support funding for federal grants, loans, scholarships and other financial aid for students.
· We urge the Montana Board of Regents to redress faculty salary compression and inversion and otherwise provide for faculty salaries that are competitive and approximate to the national average.
· We affirm our support for Montana’s constitutional promise that every Montanan learn about the distinct and unique cultural heritage of American Indian people and tribes and we are committed to the preservation of American Indian cultural integrity.
· Recognizing that research and scholarship are central to the Montana State University System’s mission, Montana Democrats support state and federal funding for research and scholarship.
· We support establishment of a state based financial aid system for post-secondary public education. We recognize the disparity in academic achievement and graduation rates between Indian and non-Indian students in our University system and support policy and funding for educational services designed to bring equity for American Indian Students.
· We recognize the importance of tribal colleges in providing a vital part of higher education services to all Montanans, both Indian and non-Indian, and support continued state funding of non-beneficiary students who attend those tribal colleges at an equitable level with the state’s community colleges.
· We support an amendment to Article X of the Montana Constitution to require that all Montanan’s shall have access to an affordable, high quality post-secondary public education.
Public Education Plank Resolutions
Funding of Mandates
WHEREAS, Montana has often funded educational requirements established by the United States Congress,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the United States Congress fully fund all of its mandates, such as ESEA and IDEA.
Opposition to NCLB
Whereas, the last Congressional reauthorization of ESEA, misnamed “No Child Left Behind,” produced many intended and unintended bad outcomes in the Montana public schools,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana Democratic Party urges Montana’s Congressional delegation to support a reauthorized ESEA that does not punish or endanger Montana’s public school students, teachers and communities, but instead honors and respects Montana’s historic and cultural commitment to state and local school district control and accountability for quality public education.
Opposition to Public School Privatization
WHEREAS, diversion of public funding to private sectarian education violates the separation of church and state and is prohibited by the Montana State Constitution, and
WHEREAS, diversion of public funding to private, non-sectarian education unwisely diverts precious resources from public investment in our public schools,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Montana Democratic Party opposes any public funding of private, sectarian and non-sectarian education through pay vouchers, tax credits, charter schools, or any other private school funding plan.
WHEREAS, in Montana, the median family dedicates a third of its annual income to just one year of college, after students receive financial aid,
WHEREAS, the average in-state Montana student graduates with over $20,000 in student loan debt,
WHEREAS, the amount of loans students are required to take out has doubled in the past decade,
WHEREAS, the proportion which the state government has committed to education has been drastically reduced, shifting the burden onto the students,
WHEREAS, access to post-secondary education for all Montana citizens should be a right, not a privilege;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, we stand resolved to make post-secondary education accessible to all serious students, regardless of income.
· Montana must reduce its reliance on increasing student tuition for higher education funding, and commit to achieving a 50/50 student-state funding partnership with the overall goal of restoring a historic 2/3 cost share.
· We oppose further cuts to federal grants, loans, scholarships and other essential financial aid. We are committed to keeping interest rates on student loans low by preserving the 3.4% cap.
· We unequivocally support the periodic passage and renewal of the six mill levy.
Graduation Matters Montana
WHEREAS, nearly 2,000 Montana students drop out of high school each year;
WHEREAS, Montana is one of only 18 states in the country that allows students to drop out of school at age 16;
WHEREAS, 75% of Montana’s incarcerated men and women did not graduate from high school;
WHEREAS, high school graduates earn, on average, $143 more per week than high school drop outs;
WHEREAS, more than half of the new jobs in the next decade will require some post-secondary education;
WHEREAS, in today’s global economy, a quality education is the key to economic prosperity for our young people and for our state;
WHEREAS, school, student, families, businesses, and community leaders all across Montana are coming together to launch the Graduation Matters initiative;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports Superintendent Denise Juneau’s efforts to ensure Montana’s public schools graduate students prepared for college and careers and cut Montana’s dropout rate in half by 2014 through her statewide initiative, Graduation Matters Montana.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports legislation to raise the legal drop out age from “age 16” to “age 18.”
We seek a fair, just, progressive and equitable tax system that reflects and enhances our changing economy and adequately supports a full range of quality public services and public education. We believe in maintaining fiscal responsibility while promoting equality of opportunity for our citizens.
Taxation Plank Appendix
We adhere to the principle of fiscal responsibility, which means being accountable for the wise use of revenue, and identifying and disclosing publicly both how new programs, when proposed, will be funded, as well as, when tax cuts are proposed, what such cuts will cost the public in the form of cuts in existing programs and services and what shifts in taxation will occur.
Resolution regarding the Coal Tax Trust Fund
WHEREAS, many attempts have been made in the past to bust the Constitutional Coal Tax Trust Fund;
WHEREAS, budget shortfalls may once again provide an impetus for raiding this Coal Tax Trust Fund;
AND WHEREAS, Democrats have always held firm in their opposition to busting this trust;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party reaffirms its strong support for the Constitutional Coal Tax Trust and opposes any attempt to bust the Trust or lower the tax.
More than one in seven Montanans age 18 and older is a veteran, a per capita number second only to Alaska. Montana Democrats recognize and commend the service and sacrifice of all veterans, active duty personnel and their families. We challenge our elected leaders to ensure our veterans and active duty personnel and their families are able to access and receive all benefits promised them upon their entry into service.
Veterans' Needs Plank Appendix
We direct our Congressional delegation to maximize coordination between Federal Veterans’ Services and the state of Montana. We recognize that Montana has a proud tradition of service to our country in time of war and national emergencies. We are proud of our Montanans in uniform and grateful for their willingness to serve our state and nation. We are committed to ensuring their service and sacrifice is never forgotten.
Montana’s veteran population, old and young, are scattered across our very rural state, some a thousand-mile round trip from our only full service U.S. Veteran’s Administration Hospital. We support efforts to ensure local and/or regional services be made available and accessible for all Montana veterans.
We ask our elected leaders to provide adequate funding and resources to ensure delivery of a wide array of services for our veterans and their families including, but not limited to, the following: medical and mental health services, disability compensation, quality and affordable education, meaningful employment and job training, housing, and small business assistance. We urge services be especially targeted to treatment of PTSD, TBI, suicide prevention, and the needs of our homeless vets.
We acknowledge all Montana service members, including National Guard and reserve, have been deployed for federal wartime duty in ever increasing numbers. These service members have served heroically and professionally and we commend and support efforts to ensure those members have access to the services that will ensure their healthy and successful readjustment when returning to their families, communities and workplaces. We urge our leaders to recognize that these issues are dynamic and ongoing.
We thank and commend Montana’s state veteran service officers, veteran service organizations and other volunteer organizations for the essential work they do every day on behalf of Montana’s veterans.
Veterans’ Needs Plank Resolutions
Montana Veterans’ Home
WHEREAS, the Montana Veterans’ Home in Columbia Falls has consistently provided high quality services to Montana veterans, starting with veterans of the civil war and continuing to the present day;
WHEREAS, there was a proposal to privatize the Montana Veterans’ Home and close it as a state facility;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports the Montana Veterans’ Home and opposes all efforts to privatize it.
Southwestern Montana Veterans’ Home
WHEREAS, the need exists and is growing for housing and care for Montana veterans;
WHEREAS, existing facilities are not adequate in Southwestern Montana;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Montana Democratic Party supports the funding, construction and continued support of the Montana Southwestern Veterans’ Home as a public facility.
Women’s Plank Appendix
Supporting Equal Opportunity for Women
Montana is the proud home of women who have blazed new trails in business, culture, and politics. We are the Party that believes in recruiting women to run for office, which is reflected in the numbers of women running for public office on the Democratic ticket. We know that when Montana works to elect women to office, the result is increased opportunity for families, communities, and aspiring people everywhere.
We reaffirm our historic support of the Equal Rights Amendment. We are the Party whose Senators helped to combat pay discrimination by passing the Lily Ledbetter Act. We will work to combat violence against women. We believe that standing up for our state and country means standing up against sexism and all intolerance. Demeaning portrayals of women cheapen our debates, dampen the dreams of our daughters, and deny us the contributions of too many.
A Woman’s Right to Choose
We support and respect an individual’s right and ability to make personal decisions regarding childbirth and the full range of reproductive choices, as constitutionally guaranteed. We oppose restrictive legislation or governmental intervention into these private decisions. We support the right of women to receive health care in a safe environment. We further support the protection of those who provide women’s health services. We support funding reproductive and family planning education and STD/AIDS prevention for men and women. We support programs and policies which seek to change attitudes and behaviors in order to reduce unplanned pregnancies and the transmission of STD/AIDS.
We support efforts to address the economic disparities that exist for women in our state. As Democrats, we will promote and support equal access for women of all ages to training, jobs and promotions, and equal pay for equal work.
In addition to equal pay for equal work, we acknowledge the need for programs and services to address the unique needs of women in regard to affordable and appropriate healthcare, access to housing, child support, child care, job training and education, and other public benefits that address the reality that women are the primary caregivers of children and elderly family members in our communities. We support valuing caregiving as work, including policies that allow for paid leave from employment.
Preventing and Ending Violence Against Women
We support efforts to address violence against women in all forms, including domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and sexual harassment. We strongly encourage comprehensive funding for prevention of these crimes through education, early and ongoing intervention, as well as funding for direct services.
Of particular concern is the pervasive problem of sexual assault. As sexual assault is the most underreported crime in our communities, it is necessary to address the need for increased expectations and resources for training, investigation, prosecution, and coordinated community responses. We strongly encourage state and federal entities to address the particular jurisdictional and social barriers facing Native American women who are experiencing sexual assault and violence at the highest rates.