U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, spoke before the Montana State Legislature Feb. 20, stressing his support for abortion rights as well as efforts to improve services and health care for veterans. Tester previously served as president of the Montana State Senate. He was elected to the U.S. Senate 2006.
Here are some highlights from the speech.
On abortion rights, privacy and freedoms
“I will always defend a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions, because those freedoms are fundamental to who we are as Montanans and as Americans. Privacy and freedom are bedrock principles in this state, and elected officials would do well to respect that, whether it’s about regulating the kinds of medical care families receive, or protecting our Second Amendment rights.”
On high inflation (including high housing, child care and health care costs)
“This body has an opportunity to truly make sure Montana is an affordable place to live and to work. I urge you to take steps to put more money in the pockets of working folks in the long run — rather than handing out checks to the wealthy and well connected in the short term.”
“In Washington, I will always take on anyone to defend Montana values and do what’s right for our state. I implore this body to do the same: Do what’s right for your constituents, and our state — not just what party leaders expect.”
On veterans health care
“Montana is home to more than 100,000 veterans — nearly 10 percent of our state’s population — who were willing to put their life on the line for our country. I’m proud of the fact that we were able to get my toxic exposure bill known as the PACT Act passed and signed by the President last year — it is the biggest expansion of VA health care in history, and it will provide more than 60,000 of Montana’s toxic-exposed veterans with the health care and benefits they earned.”
On Montana’s heritage
“Montana has always been a state of the working man and woman. We know what it’s like to get our hands dirty, and we’ve never had much affinity for the ultra-wealthy. The Treasure State has always been about the people who have built this country, whether it’s a laborer, a farmer, or a small business owner. Keep that in mind as you pass your policies. It’s how we built this country, and it’s how we’ll keep Montana the Last Best Place.”