Liz Bangerter: More Enthusiastic About Confiscating Federal Lands than Medicaid Expansion

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In the past few months, I’ve taken a look at Helena Representative Liz Bangerter, who is running for re-election to the Montana House in District 82. Specifically, I’ve taken her to task for her absolute refusal to run a substantive campaign and a record of supporting reactionary Republican policies that are not aligned with the values of her district and community.

After the interview that appeared in the Independent Record, it’s even more obvious why Bangerter won’t tell constituents where she stands. She’s wrong on the issues. Consider this incredible effort to have it both ways on the conservative notion that Montana should seize control of federal land in the state:

On the topic of Montana taking over federal lands, she said, “I understand the idea and am enthusiastically behind the idea, I just don’t think realistically it would work out. It’s too big financially and geographically. I can’t imagine having to fund all those jobs.”

For those of you scoring at home, her answer was that she’s “enthusiastic” about an idea that she admits wouldn’t be realistic for the state. And that’s Ms. Bangerter as a legislator: she’s an enthusiastic supporter of truly terrible ideas, like letting ALEC write health care legislation, criminalizing federal law enforcement, and huge tax breaks for the worst kind of pollution-emitting energy suppliers. She also wants to have it both ways when it comes to Medicare expansion. Knowing that the voters of her district surely support the sensible (and moral) policy of expanding access to health care, Bangerter tried to tell readers of the IR that she supports it…sort of:

“I carried a bill (HB623) in the last legislative session” on Medicaid expansion, she said, However it was killed in the final hours of the Legislature, and she was among those voting it down. “It had been stripped in the House Human Services Committee” and then massive changes were made to it on the Senate floor, she wrote in an email, so that “nothing in the bill resembled ‘my’ bill.”

Back in 2013, she told the Washington Post that the process was just “too fast” for her to follow:

Bangarter, the original sponsor of the legislation, is among those who changed her mind. “It kind of all happened so fast,” she recalls. “The minority leader opposed it, and I was thinking wait a second, I haven’t read the rules. I did that before the second vote and agreed, it was totally legal what he was doing. Myself and a few others switched our votes because of that.”

That’s hardly a ringing endorsement for someone who claims that her experience in the Legislature is a reason to return her there, and more likely a disengenuous effort to make voters in her district believe she supports their priorities. The choice in House District 82 couldn’t be easier for voters: Moffie Funk will be an energetic supporter of public lands and public education, equality and health care. Once elected, she won’t need to explain away bad votes, because she won’t make them. Instead, she’ll vote with the values of our community always in mind.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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