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An IR View: Local health order, false invocation remarks, remote testimony

An IR View: Local health order, false invocation remarks, remote testimony

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Although removing public health precautions in some counties and not others is akin to having a smoking section on an airplane, Lewis and Clark County residents can take comfort in knowing local public health directives will not be lifted until it is safe to do so.

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced this week that he will remove his predecessor’s statewide mask mandate and other health precautions in the coming weeks, after certain conditions are met. However, Lewis and Clark County’s City-County Board of Health has already enacted its own public health measures that can remain in place even after the statewide precautions are removed.

Public health officials who usually fly under the radar have been harassed, mocked, ridiculed and in some cases threatened for trying to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus that has sickened nearly 85,000 and killed more than 1,000 in Montana. Although it would have been easy for our local health officials to pass the buck to state government, they have shown that they are willing to do what they believe is best for our community even when it’s hard.

We hope their counterparts throughout the state will follow their lead. It is critical to stemming the spread of COVID-19. 

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The hateful and false remarks given during the invocation at Montana State Auditor Troy Downing’s swearing-in ceremony have no place in our state government.

During what was meant to be a prayer, Eric Jacobs of Bozeman referred to the coronavirus pandemic as “false,” called for members of the “deep state” to be arrested and cited debunked claims of election fraud as a reason to overturn the presidential election.

We were glad to see that Downing quickly rebuked these statements and trust that he will do more to vet those speaking at future events sanctioned by his office. 

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All Senate committees will allow the public to provide remote testimony over platforms such as Zoom during Montana’s 2021 Legislative Session.

Although Senate Judiciary committee chairman Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, previously said he would not allow testimony from outside the building, he and all other senate committee chairs made the decision this week to allow remote testimony amid the coronavirus pandemic.

If the session has to be held in person, this gives those most vulnerable to COVID-19 an opportunity to exercise their right to participate in state government without risking their lives or the lives of others. And as some local governing bodies have found over the last 10 months, public participation increases when the public can participate virtually.

This is a win-win for our state's lawmakers and the people they serve. 

This is the opinion of the Independent Record editorial board. 


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