Tester puts emphasis on infrastructure and development

Liberty County Times

by Paul Overlie

In a conference call with Senator Jon Tester, infrastructure projects were the lead item of discussion. From the water projects like Rocky Boy's/North Central Montana Water System to the Shiloh Road, several Montana projects are in need of funding. For Tester, that is something he is working hard to fix.

"Infrastructure, development and technology are at the top of my list [of priorities]," Tester said.

Discussing the North Central Montana Regional Water System, Tester noted that the funding is just not coming fast enough to get the project done.

"We've gotten, I believe, around $5 million at present, we are trying to get some more," Tester said. "We need to get some money to these projects and we are trying to get creative with these."

Tester was getting ready to head to a conference on mining laws in a committee looking to reform laws that date to 1872. According to Tester, these laws are long past-due for reform.

"We have an incredible number of mines in Montana, I think the conservative estimate is about 600," Tester said. "There are some that are seeping into our water and reclamation is needed. I think we need some royalty money from these mines so taxpayers do not have to pay for the clean-up. I think royalties are one way to take care of these issues."

Tester also discussed the farm bill and noted that the deadline was March 15. The deadline has been extended to April 18. "It is still in conference committee as Senator Baucus put in a disaster provision and they are still deliberating what should be included," Tester said. "I was hopeful it would just pass with the Senate version."

On the democratic primary, Tester noted that Montana is in play, as evidenced by visits scheduled by both candidates. Tester pointed out that this is good for Montana.

Tester is holding a first ever ethics audit of his office. This is an attempt to make sure everything done out of his office is above board and transparent.

"We have tried to do everything as ethically as possible," Tester said. "It will be interesting to see what transpires. We have tried to be transparent and open, in fact that is why we hold things like these conference calls."

Generally speaking, Tester is for a change in the attitude in Washington. "I think we need to get back to focusing on the middle class and small business," He said.