Daines says Montanans want less government

HELENA – Sen. Steve Daines told state lawmakers Friday that Montanans don’t want a government that reaches “deeper” into their pockets and wanted courts with judges without political agendas.

The Montana Republican spoke to state House members during a 30-minute speech in which he discussed topics such as the honor of public service, a memorial being approved for a slain Broadwater County deputy, job creation, term limits,  lower prescription drug prices and the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“I will not stop fighting for common sense solutions on issues that mean the most to Montanans,” he said.

Democratic Sen. Jon Tester spoke to House members earlier in the 90-day session.

Daines said he hoped the state legislative session would not be “held captive to the partisan politics going on in Washington D.C.”

He outlined what he thought Montanans did and didn’t want.

“They generally want less government,” he said. “They want higher-paying jobs, less taxes and access to public lands.”

He noted recent reports that said 304,000 jobs were created in the United States in January and added there are now more jobs available than people to fill them.

Daines said able-bodied people out of work should not be able to fall into a “sinkhole of dependency” but be helped back into the work force.

He said efforts to lower prescription drug prices should be a “bi-partisan issue.”

Daines also said government should not impede economic growth and cited the stalled Keystone XL Pipeline as an example, noting the pipeline would bring in millions in tax revenues to the state.

Daines, in his first term as a senator, said he joined with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to introduce bills on term limits for federal lawmakers.

He said a person should serve a couple terms and then return to Montana, adding that the founding fathers had no idea some people would try to make holding office “long-time careers.”

He praised lawmakers for serving.

“You understand the importance of giving back,” he said. “It’s not about glory, it’s about service.”

Daines, 56, grew up in Bozeman and graduated from Montana State University with a bachelor’s of science degree in chemical engineering. He spent 13 years in management for Procter and Gamble, and then returned to Bozeman in 1997 to work in a family construction business.

In 2000, he was a vice president at RightNow Technologies, a Bozeman-based cloud computing startup company headed by Greg Gianforte, who now serves in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Daines was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and to the Senate in 2014, having defeated Democrat Amanda Curtis.

For the 116th Congress, Senate Republican leadership named Daines to the Senate Committees on Finance, Appropriations, Energy and Natural Resources and Indian Affairs Committees. 

Daines is the first senator to serve on both Finance and Appropriations simultaneously since 1944, his aides said.

Daines made headlines in October when he received President Donald J, Trump’s blessing to skip the vote on Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh to walk daughter Annie down the aisle.

“I have asked Steve Daines, our great Republican Senator from Montana, to attend his daughter Annie’s wedding rather than coming to today’s vote,” Trump wrote on Twitter after the vote.

Daines recently announced his guest for Trump’s Feb. 5 State of the Union speech will be Jodi Moore, wife of slain Broadwater County Deputy Sheriff Mason Moore, who was killed in the line of duty in 2017.

Daines mentioned Mason Moore on Friday, thanking House members for passing a bill to erect a memorial in his honor. 

“I am looking forward to the (state) Senate following suit,” he said.

Also, GovTrack, a nonpartisan website, said Daines had the most bills that became law in the three-member Montana delegation and in the 2014 elected class of Senators.

Daines was recognized as having the most bipartisan bills and resolutions in the Montana delegation and his class.

In late 2018, he visited Kalispell-based 495 Combat Sustainment Support Battalion in Afghanistan, and he left them with treats for the holidays that included Montana-made jerky and homemade cookies.

He and wife Cindy have four children and one grandchild.