Daines Remarks to Joint Session of Montana Legislature

Helena, MT — U.S. Senator Steve Daines will address a joint session of the Montana Legislature today at the invitation of Montana legislative leadership. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you Speaker Regier, members of the legislature, and statewide elected officials here today. 

It’s a great honor to be speaking here in a room that holds so much history for our state. 

When we woke up this morning, let’s remember that we woke up in the greatest country in the world, and we woke up in the greatest state in the country.

As I grow older, I find myself spending more time reflecting on the future of our state.

I stand before you today now as the grandfather of grandchildren whose Montana roots extend back seven generations.

When Cindy and I think about the Montana our children’s children will know, we are filled with hope. It puts smiles on our faces.

In the last two years, Governor Gianforte’s bold leadership of the great Montana comeback has created a better environment to raise our children and a better environment to grow a business.

Because of the foundation Governor Gianforte is building and the resolve of hardworking Montanans, the state of our state is strong and getting stronger.

I am excited to see what the future holds for Montana.

But as we move forward here in Montana with great optimism, Washington, D.C. is headed in the wrong direction.

From the out-of-control southern border, to the botched Afghanistan withdrawal that left 13 American troops dead, to shutting down the Keystone pipeline, and then begging the Venezuelan dictatorship for oil, to record-breaking inflation and now the Chinese spy balloon fiasco, which many Montanans saw firsthand with their own eyes, Joe Biden is empowering our enemies and putting American national security at risk. 

Since Joe Biden took office and the Democrats took the U.S. Senate majority two years ago, they radically changed policies resulting in chaos on our southern border, allowing over five million illegal immigrants to flood into the United States. 

Montana is not immune to this crisis. We are a northern border state with a southern border crisis. 

Mexican cartels are using chemicals from China to make fentanyl in Mexico and ship it across our southern border. From there, it wreaks havoc on communities across the nation, including right here in Montana.

In the first three quarters of 2022, Montana law enforcement seized more fentanyl in our state than they did in the last four years combined.

Fentanyl poisoning has quickly and quietly become the leading cause of death for 18-45 year olds.

I’d be surprised if there is anyone in this room who doesn’t know of someone who lost a family member or close friend to fentanyl poisoning. 

I know someone who did – I know Tom Schrapps. 

Earlier this month, I brought Tom Schrapps with me as my guest to the President’s State of the Union Address. 

Tom Schrapps and his family live in Butte. 

He lost his son, Reilly, to fentanyl poisoning last summer. 

Tom Schrapps has our prayers, and our commitment to do more. We must stop the flood of fentanyl into our communities.

Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address lasted over an hour but he never mentioned any meaningful solutions to securing the southern border.

He has also spent the last two years neglecting Montanans’ calls for common-sense permitting reform and forest management projects to help protect the West from another devastating wildfire season.

Montanans are tired of watching the sky fill with smoke and our forests burn.

Radical environmental groups combined with Ninth Circuit Judges obstruct our collaborative forest management projects and expose our Montana communities to the devasting effects of catastrophic wildfires.

I am working hard to pass my bipartisan solution to the Ninth Circuit Court Cottonwood decision and hand Montanans back the tools we need to manage our own forests and grow our timber jobs. Because either we are going to better manage our forests, or our forests are going to manage us.

I am grateful Governor Gianforte is leading the fight to manage our forests on a state level.

One thing Governor Gianforte understands that President Biden does not is that raising taxes will not grow the economy. 

In the face of skyrocketing national inflation, Governor Gianforte has provided meaningful tax relief for Montana families and businesses and made our economy more competitive and is moving forward with the largest Montana income tax cut ever. Let’s get it done!

Montana has become a sanctuary for freedom and free enterprise. People are moving to Montana not just for our quality of life, but also for quality of leadership. They are fleeing the heavy hand of blue state governors, and headed for more freedom.

On the other hand, President Biden and Senate Democrats’ have spent their way to the brink of recession.

Last week’s Producer Price Index clocked in twice as high as expectations, indicating inflation remains a serious issue. This sky-high inflation is a tax on every Montanan.  

From the gas pump to the grocery store, Montanans are struggling to make ends meet. 

Economists on the right and left, including Larry Summers, who served as Secretary of Treasury under President Clinton and was President Obama’s Director of the National Economic Council, warned back in early 2021 that the Senate Democrats’ completely partisan nearly $2 trillion spending spree would spark inflation.

Yet even with the signs of recession flashing in their face, Senate Democrats continue to double down on their reckless spending and their war on Made in America energy.

During his State of the Union Speech, President Biden said we might need oil for 10 more years. Ten more years? 

Joe Biden and Senate Democrats are living in a green hallucination – they are unrealistic about our domestic energy needs. 

Here are the facts. According to Joe Biden’s Department of Energy over the course of the next 25 years, global energy demand is going to increase 50 percent. 

And renewable sources of energy such as hydropower, wind, and solar will continue growing to meet our future needs but fossil fuels will remain the most relied upon source of energy for the next 30 years or more. We can’t let the Green New Deal advocates burn down today’s energy bridges, until the new bridges are built and proven reliable and affordable. 

Furthermore, radical environmental groups keep obstructing new copper and silver mines in Montana, which are needed for a renewable energy future, like they’ve been doing for over 30 years with the Rock Creek and Montanore mines in Northwest Montana and killing hundreds of good-paying jobs.

We need an all-of-the-above portfolio of Made in America and Made in Montana energy – we shouldn’t rely on oil from Venezuela, Iran, or our Strategic Petroleum Reserves.   

Despite all these challenges, challenges that weigh heavily on our minds, I am optimistic about our future.

Why? Because of the people of Montana who are blessed to call Montana home, we truly live in the last best place.

What makes Montana the last best place?

Is it our incredible public lands or our amazing streams and rivers?

Is it our agricultural heritage that feeds our state, the nation and the world?

Is it our rich legacy of military service where over 80,000 veterans call Montana home?

These are all right answers. All of these things, and more, contribute to our Montana way of life that sets us apart from the rest of the country and the rest of the world. 

It’s the people of Montana that set us apart.

But there are some who want to change Montana and impose their way of life on us.

Two weeks ago today, my Twitter account was suspended because I posted a picture of Cindy and me hunting last fall in eastern Montana, a picture taken by my daughter on her iPhone.

What the San Francisco elite deemed “violent and adult content,” I considered part of our Montana way of life and one of our multi-generational family traditions.

Thirteen hours after I had been placed in Twitter jail, Elon Musk reached out to me and personally restored my account and promised a change in twitter policy to “accept different values, rather than trying to impose its own specific values on the world.”

This is a good thing. The rest of the country benefits from accepting and including Montana values and our way of life.

The coastal elites are seeking to change our Montana way of life.

They seek to take away our Second Amendment rights.

Radical groups want to lock up our forests.

But here, in Montana, we know that unless we have more logging trucks leaving our forests, we will have more firefighters entering them.

They try to shut parents out of classrooms and impress their backward gender ideology onto our children.

But here, in Montana, we must let kids be kids. We must let boys be boys, and girls be girls.

Some want to stop hunting and trapping. They want to tell Montanans they know more about our wildlife than we do.

But here, in Montana, we know the science is clear – it is high time to delist the grizzly bear, and return the management of grizzlies back to Montanans, isn’t it Governor?

I’ll leave you on this President’s Day with a solemn reminder from our 40th President, the first President I ever voted for back when I was a freshman at Montana State University, President Ronald Reagan. 

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in America where men were free.”

We have work to do and Montanans are counting on us. 

Here, in Montana, the decisions we make today will impact the lives of our children and grandchildren. 

I look forward to working with you to continue to defend our Montana way of life.

Thank God freedom is alive and well here in Montana. Together, let’s keep fighting to protect it.


Contact: Matt LloydRachel DumkeBlake Kernen