Taking my own advice “candidate research”

July 23, 2013

English: ballot box

Over the past couple weeks, I have devoted most of my free time, to researching candidates for the 2014 U.S. Senate race.

Although I have used the state legislature websites, countless times before, this is the first time I have done so with a specific focus on individual candidates. I wont lie, reading through countless pages of legislation is mentally taxing, but I found it personally gratifying, to finally develop a functional process for exploiting this treasure trove of factual information, for the specific purpose of reclaiming and reinforcing our constitutional authority as voters.

In the coming months I will make an effort to familiarize myself with the likely candidates from both sides, but for my initial trial run, I focused primarily on former State Senator Corey Stapleton (2000-2008).

As my ability to convey an informed opinion is understandably limited by my personal knowledge, I strongly encourage everybody to do their own research and make up their own minds. Look into the issues you are concerned about. Read the text and examine the vote tabulation of bills that catch your attention, but most importantly, tell others what you find and what you think about it.

My initial review of Senator Stapleton was limited to few topics that are high on my list of priorities, education, property taxes, resource development, and energy.

I conducted this review in 2 stages. The first was to utilize the search option that allows one to search by a legislators name. This option provides a list of the bills that legislator either requested or sponsored. I did this with the 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007 regular sessions. I read the bills and took notes.

The second stage of my research focused on the 2007 regular session. I expanded my research by utilizing the search option that allows one to search by subject. This provides a list of all the bills related to that subject for that session. I read the text and examined the vote tabulation of all the bills that caught my attention, one subject at a time, and again took notes.

It doesn’t really matter how you go about it, but I recommend this process. It seemed to help things move at a steady pace, but it also helped me refine my opinion, by helping me identify patterns.

My initial impression, based on this research, is that Senator Stapleton is likely to be a strong contender for the U.S. Senate seat. It’s my opinion, Senator Stapleton’s record will be an asset.

As my objective for this article is to encourage others to do their own research, I am only going to share a few examples from my research into one legislative subject.

As a father of 3, education is very high on my list of priorities. As this issue is also listed as a priority, on the Stapleton campaign website http://coreystapleton.com it seemed like a good place to start.

During the first stage of my research, I observed consistent efforts to support education. From closer examination of these related bills, 2001 SB 273, 2003 SB 63, 2003 SB 267, 2005 SB 273, & 2007 HB 356, I developed the impression that Stapleton has a better than average understanding of the relationship education has with Montana’s economy.

Considering the less than ideal tax and regulatory environment in Montana, it is my opinion that education is one of Montana’s best opportunities for economic growth.

Montana has a persistent problem with college graduates seeking employment outside of Montana. 2001 SB 273 sponsored by Stapleton, was an attempt to create an incentive for graduates to seek employment in Montana.

Montana also has a problem encouraging teachers to seek employment in rural areas. 2003 SB 267 proposed 500 $10,000 signing bonuses, paid over 3 years. 100 of these were specified to go to beginning teachers, teaching in rural areas.

Stapleton is listed as the requester for 2007 HB 356. If it’s appropriate to give Stapleton any credit for this bill, I would view this bill as another indication that Stapleton has a better than average understanding of the economic impact education has on Montana’s economy.

As a landlord, I am more aware than some, of the economic impact of property taxes. Every month I set money aside to pay the taxes on my properties. I believe in the economic model that suggests growth increases revenue. Money that isn’t circulating, isn’t growing.

2007 HB 356 would have relieved the burden of property taxes by increasing direct state aid to schools and reducing the state equalization aid levy.

Again this is just a sample. There are thousands of bills to look at from 2001 to 2007. Whatever your concerns, records are available that will help you develop an informed opinion.

Now I realize we still have some 16 months or so until the next election. That may seem like a long time, but considering the stakes, it really isn’t.

You can be sure the opposition is already hard at work, and we should be too.

Glenn W. Uncles Jr.

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