Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Week in the Life of a Policymaker

photo courtesy Mike Greener, Bozeman Daily Chronicle
The thing I like best about being a legislator is working on policy. I know that sounds dry, but it isn't; it's helping constituents get answers and help from state agencies, and it's trying to improve all variety of things, like working conditions and road safety and water quality, all the things that matter in our lives.

This past week is a good example of my typical policy work, although this week was busier than most (at least, out of campaign season!)

Monday, Sept 23, 2013
  I get a broad range of questions and requests from constituents, and this week began with two requests for help: one with child support payments and another about wine shipments in-state. I emailed and called our state agencies in Helena, and had answers within the day for my voters.

End Childhood Hunger summit, Bozeman
 Then, I want to the first of a two-day End Childhood Hunger summit at MSU. Governor Bullock and many other illustrious speakers presented information on how communities, a variety of charitable organizations, and all of us can help to combat food insecurity for our neighbors. Monday night was a screening of A Place at the Table, a film by Lori Silverbush. She and her husband, acclaimed chef Tom Colicchio, held a Q&A after the film.

Tuesday, Sept 24, 2013
   I was proud to serve on the board of the Greater Gallatin Watershed Council for several years, and happily help that group however I can. Today, that included design work for the GGWC Annual Fall Tour and also a community meeting on a local creek that is impaired by pollutants, and forming a plan to stop the degradation of the creek and improve water quality.

US Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz
  The day also included a gathering to hear U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida 23), who talked eloquently about the threatened government shutdown and other policy action in Washington, D.C.

Wednesay, Sept 25, 2013
  The day began with a two-hour meeting with a grad student at my alma mater, Montana State University, on tax increment financing (TIF) districts. TIF is a mechanism used for economic development. A TIF district is typically one that needs an influx of money for infrastructure improvements or other features to spur business growth. The boundaries of the district are drawn, the current tax value is determined (which becomes the base tax value) and for 15-30 years, the increase over the base tax value is returned
vibrant downtown Bozeman
directly to the district. In Bozeman, our historic downtown has been improved by its TIF district, with new water/sewer infrastructure, street lamps, cross walks, traffic signals, and amenities which keep and draw businesses to a vibrant downtown.

  Next, a meeting with watershed people, then constituent work and evening meetings about the upcoming city commission election and school bond issues on the ballot in November.

Thursday, Sept 26, 2013
  This morning, I worked on a constituent request from a pediatrician in Bozeman who'd like to organize her fellow physicians statewide to target legislation next session.

  Then, an evening meeting with State Auditor (Montana State Insurance Commissioner) Monica Lindeen, on how the Affordable Care Act will be implemented. Lindeen is touring the state with informative townhall meetings to describe how the insurance marketplace will work, how people can use tax credits and deductions to buy health insurance, and the role the
photo courtesy Montana Standard
Montana Auditor's office plays in helping people with insurance claims, coverage, and companies. The meeting was very well received by everyone there...and it was a packed room.

Friday, Sept 27, 2013

Governor's Task Force on Equal Pay for Equal Work
  I attended the Governor's Task Force on Equal Pay for Equal Work, hosted at MSU. The task force will study the inequality on women's pay ($.67 to every $1.00 a man earns) in Montana. With Montanans working hard for lower wages than comparable work in other states, it's important that a dollar carries the same value for every worker.

Governor Bullock at the WWAMI White Coat Ceremony
Montana students entering the WWAMI program...Montana's future doctors!
  Next, the White Coat Ceremony for this year's medical students from MSU! Montana students aspiring to be physicians participate in the WWAMI program (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) to go to medical school in WA, since only one of those states, Washington, has a medical school. For 42 years, Montana had 20 students a year enter the program. This last legislative session, I was proud to vote with many other legislators to ADD TEN SEATS! Here's the first class of THIRTY MONTANA MEDICAL STUDENTS at their White Coat Ceremony yesterday, a wonderful day for them, for me, and for the state! Congratulations, doctors!

Saturday, Sept 28, 2013

  Today's article in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Governor Bullock's task force meeting on Equal Pay for Equal Work, by Gail Schontzler:



American women workers earn only 77 cents for every $1 men earn and that is “simply unacceptable,” Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday in Bozeman at the kickoff for his Equal Pay for Equal Work task force.

When President John Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, U.S. women earned 59 cents for every $1 men earn, and in 50 years that has improved only 18 cents, the governor said. 

In Montana, he said, “It's even worse.” 

Montana women earn just 67 cents for every $1 Montana men earn, which means the state is one of the 11 worst for pay gaps. 

Bullock created the 12-member task force to investigate and recommend actions that state government can take. He spoke at its first meeting, held at Montana State University's stadium. 

“All our workers deserve a fair wage for a hard day's work,” Bullock said. As the father of two daughters, he added, he wants to be sure they don't grow up to face doubts that their work is valued and respected the same as men's. 

Pam Bucy, state commissioner of Labor and Industry, will co-chair the task force with Sheila Hogan, director of the state Department of Administration.

Two things they plan to do are to conduct an audit of the state's 13,000 employees to see if there's a pay gap in state jobs. Hogan said they'll also look into state contracts, which may offer ways to influence the pay gap. 

For example, Hogan said, the standard language in state contracts says the contractor will follow federal law. One possibility would be to spell out the federal law on equal pay, to bring it to contractors' attention. 

MSU President Waded Cruzado, a task force member, said she believes one reason for the pay gap is ignorance, and once people become aware they'll say, “Let's fix it.” Cruzado said later she doesn't know yet whether there's a pay gap among the university's 3,000 employees. 

Billings Mayor Tom Hanel said one reason for the pay gap is that for years people looked at women as belonging in the home, cooking and raising families. That's changed, he said, but pay hasn't caught up. Barry Good, dean of Missoula College, agreed it's a cultural issue that goes back hundreds of years. 

Barbara Wagner, chief economist for the state Department of Labor and Industry, said the pay gap can be found in every occupation, every industry, every education level, every age group and every state. It has improved over time, but the rate of improvement has slowed, she said. 

One major reason for the gap, she said, is that women choose occupations and industries, like teaching, that pay less than male occupations, like piloting aircraft. Women take time out to have children, and when they do, they earn less. When men become fathers, on the other hand, they earn more. 

Occupation, industry, experience and union status explain roughly half the pay gap, Wagner said, leaving about 41 percent “unexplained” which “could be discrimination.” 

State Rep. JP Pomnichowski, D-Bozeman, told the task force, “There's a strange dichotomy in Montana between chivalry and chauvinism.” 

“If I work hard and you work hard, my dollar should equal your dollar. It shouldn't be two-thirds.” 

Task force members include representatives of the Montana Chamber of Commerce, labor unions, Native Americans and small business.
American women workers earn only 77 cents for every $1 men earn and that is “simply unacceptable,” Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday in Bozeman at the kickoff for his Equal Pay for Equal Work task force. When President John Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, U.S. women earned 59 cents for every $1 men earn, and in 50 years that has improved only 18 cents, the governor said.

Read more at: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/economy/article_5b4cf602-27cb-11e3-96d8-0019bb2963f4.html
kickoff for his Equal Pay for Equal Work task force. When President John Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, U.S. women earned 59 cents for every $1 men earn, and in 50 years that has improved only 18 cents, the governor said. In Montana, he said, “It's even worse.” Montana women earn just 67 cents for every $1 Montana men earn, which means the state is one of the 11 worst for pay gaps. Bullock created the 12-member task force to investigate and recommend actions that state government can take. He spoke at its first meeting, held at Montana State University's stadium. “All our workers deserve a fair wage for a hard day's work,” Bullock said. As the father of two daughters, he added, he wants to be sure they don't grow up to face doubts that their work is valued and respected the same as men's. Pam Bucy, state commissioner of Labor and Industry, will co-chair the task force with Sheila Hogan, director of the state Department of Administration. Two things they plan to do are to conduct an audit of the state's 13,000 employees to see if there's a pay gap in state jobs. Hogan said they'll also look into state contracts, which may offer ways to influence the pay gap. For example, Hogan said, the standard language in state contracts says the contractor will follow federal law. One possibility would be to spell out the federal law on equal pay, to bring it to contractors' attention. MSU President Waded Cruzado, a task force member, said she believes one reason for the pay gap is ignorance, and once people become aware they'll say, “Let's fix it.” Cruzado said later she doesn't know yet whether there's a pay gap among the university's 3,000 employees. Billings Mayor Tom Hanel said one reason for the pay gap is that for years people looked at women as belonging in the home, cooking and raising families. That's changed, he said, but pay hasn't caught up. Barry Good, dean of Missoula College, agreed it's a cultural issue that goes back hundreds of years. Barbara Wagner, chief economist for the state Department of Labor and Industry, said the pay gap can be found in every occupation, every industry, every education level, every age group and every state. It has improved over time, but the rate of improvement has slowed, she said. One major reason for the gap, she said, is that women choose occupations and industries, like teaching, that pay less than male occupations, like piloting aircraft. Women take time out to have children, and when they do, they earn less. When men become fathers, on the other hand, they earn more. Occupation, industry, experience and union status explain roughly half the pay gap, Wagner said, leaving about 41 percent “unexplained” which “could be discrimination.” State Rep. JP Pomnichowski, D-Bozeman, told the task force, “There's a strange dichotomy in Montana between chivalry and chauvinism.” “If I work hard and you work hard, my dollar should equal your dollar. It shouldn't be two-thirds.” Task force members include representatives of the Montana Chamber of Commerce, labor unions, Native Americans and small business.

Read more at: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/economy/article_5b4cf602-27cb-11e3-96d8-0019bb2963f4.html
kickoff for his Equal Pay for Equal Work task force. When President John Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963, U.S. women earned 59 cents for every $1 men earn, and in 50 years that has improved only 18 cents, the governor said. In Montana, he said, “It's even worse.” Montana women earn just 67 cents for every $1 Montana men earn, which means the state is one of the 11 worst for pay gaps. Bullock created the 12-member task force to investigate and recommend actions that state government can take. He spoke at its first meeting, held at Montana State University's stadium. “All our workers deserve a fair wage for a hard day's work,” Bullock said. As the father of two daughters, he added, he wants to be sure they don't grow up to face doubts that their work is valued and respected the same as men's. Pam Bucy, state commissioner of Labor and Industry, will co-chair the task force with Sheila Hogan, director of the state Department of Administration. Two things they plan to do are to conduct an audit of the state's 13,000 employees to see if there's a pay gap in state jobs. Hogan said they'll also look into state contracts, which may offer ways to influence the pay gap. For example, Hogan said, the standard language in state contracts says the contractor will follow federal law. One possibility would be to spell out the federal law on equal pay, to bring it to contractors' attention. MSU President Waded Cruzado, a task force member, said she believes one reason for the pay gap is ignorance, and once people become aware they'll say, “Let's fix it.” Cruzado said later she doesn't know yet whether there's a pay gap among the university's 3,000 employees. Billings Mayor Tom Hanel said one reason for the pay gap is that for years people looked at women as belonging in the home, cooking and raising families. That's changed, he said, but pay hasn't caught up. Barry Good, dean of Missoula College, agreed it's a cultural issue that goes back hundreds of years. Barbara Wagner, chief economist for the state Department of Labor and Industry, said the pay gap can be found in every occupation, every industry, every education level, every age group and every state. It has improved over time, but the rate of improvement has slowed, she said. One major reason for the gap, she said, is that women choose occupations and industries, like teaching, that pay less than male occupations, like piloting aircraft. Women take time out to have children, and when they do, they earn less. When men become fathers, on the other hand, they earn more. Occupation, industry, experience and union status explain roughly half the pay gap, Wagner said, leaving about 41 percent “unexplained” which “could be discrimination.” State Rep. JP Pomnichowski, D-Bozeman, told the task force, “There's a strange dichotomy in Montana between chivalry and chauvinism.” “If I work hard and you work hard, my dollar should equal your dollar. It shouldn't be two-thirds.” Task force members include representatives of the Montana Chamber of Commerce, labor unions, Native Americans and small business.

Read more at: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/economy/article_5b4cf602-27cb-11e3-96d8-0019bb2963f4.html


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