On his way to another workday campaign event yesterday, Matt Rosendale tweeted out his support for Montana firefighters, letting Montana voters know how “thankful” he was for their efforts. It was probably wise for Rosendale to offer his drive-by thanks from his air-conditioned vehicle because his record of voting against firefighters in the Montana Legislature would likely have made him quite unwelcome.
— Matt Rosendale (@MattForMontana) August 11, 2018
Rosendale’s record of votes against firefighters in the Legislature is perhaps only matched by his record of votes against veterans.
In 2011, as a member of the House, he was one of only 24 representatives to vote against a Republican-sponsored measure covering volunteer firefighters with workers compensation insurance. In the interim committee hearing on the bill, Rosendale almost killed the measure, despite testimony from the leaders of the Montana Fire Alliance outlining just how dangerous it is for these volunteer firefighters to serve without workers compensation:
“That’s why we see the benefits. The silent auctions and dinners to help pay for benefits for medical payments that were incurred by volunteers in the course of duty. I’m tired of injured volunteers with no protection, nothing to fall back on. Career-ending, catastrophic injuries that ruin people,” he said, sometimes stumbling for the right words. “Maybe you can tell I’m pretty passionate about this. Every year we don’t do this, we have another injury or two or three or four that’s uncovered. And my heart breaks every time it happens. I don’t want someone to lose their business, their livelihood, the way they make money for their family because they were involved in a career-ending injury with nothing to cover them or the medical costs. It’s a shame.”
In 2015, Rosendale was one of 2 Senators who voted against a budget neutral measure that allowed firefighters and other first responders injured in the line of duty and permanently unable to return to work to fish with conservation licenses on rehabilitation trips.
Rosendale also voted three times against increasing pension benefits for volunteer firefighters, including a modest measure that Ryan Zinke presented, calling rural volunteer fire departments the “backbone of rural communities.”
Rosendale can save his damn tweets. They’re cold comfort to the firefighters and small communities he repeatedly voted against as a member of the Legislature and further evidence that Rosendale is far more invested in his reactionary, extremist ideas about the role of government than he is in the physical health of the men and women who serve our state and the economic health of the communities in which they live.