An IR View: Promoting census, combating robocalls, firefighter of the year
AN IR VIEW

An IR View: Promoting census, combating robocalls, firefighter of the year

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Native Americans are one of the most under-counted groups in the decennial U.S. Census. But a Native activist group is working to change that this year, at least in Montana.

Outreach workers hired by Montana Native Vote are promoting participation in the 2020 census by handing out “pledge cards” to people on reservations. The cards are filled out by individuals and will be mailed to them as a reminder shortly before the census begins in the spring.

Ensuring every resident is counted is particularly important from a financial standpoint. The state has received about $2,000 a year in federal funding for each resident counted in the 2010 census, and that money helps support programs like Head Start, school lunches and public housing.

An accurate count is also necessary to ensure communities and the state receive the right number of government representatives. Montana might even regain its second seat in the U.S. House of Representatives if all of its residents are counted this year. 

Education is the key to achieving a robust 2020 census, and groups like Montana Native Vote are doing good work to help make that happen. 

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In a move all Montanans should be able to celebrate, Congress and President Trump recently approved a new law aimed at combating robocalls.

The federal TRACED Act signed into law in December requires telecom carries to develop free ID services to help consumers identify who is calling and increases the penalties for unauthorized calls.

All three members of Montana’s congressional delegation cosponsored the bill to help curb these calls, which are not just an annoyance but also a way for scammers to take advantage of people.

Although this won’t immediately solve the problem, it certainly won’t hurt.

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Montana residents are lucky to have firefighters like Helena’s own Chris Spliethof.

The Montana firefighter of the year for 2019, Spliethof has been with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation since 2008 and is now the acting fire management officer for the Helena area.

As incident commander for the initial attack on the 5,000-acre North Hills fire near Helena in July, he helped lead a firefighting effort that saved all of the nearly 500 homes that were evacuated.

Spliethof runs toward danger as others are running away from it.

This is a sign of a true hero, and we are grateful for everything Spliethof has done for our community and our state.

This is the opinion of the Independent Record editorial board. 

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