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Letters to the Editor: Keep health protections in place

| February 18, 2021 12:05 AM

Keep health protections in place

Apparently Rep. Linda Reksten doesn’t think much of our Lake County Commissioners.

Back in March of 2018 our commissioners decided to protect public health by including e-cigarettes in their Clean Indoor Air Act protections. As a result, people in our community are protected from aerosol vapor from e-cigarettes, as well as from tobacco smoke, when they are in spaces open to the public.

But House Bill 137, which Rep. Linda Reksten supported, will take these protections away.

These protections were adopted by the commissioners with the support of parents, teachers, health professionals, faith leaders and youth advocates. They exist because citizens of our community wanted them and fought for them. It’s wrong for Helena politicians to take these protections away. Some of these protections have been in place more than 10 years, others for more than five.

We need the freedom to make local decisions to protect public health, children and seniors, especially amidst the pandemic. Common sense tells us to protect our community from a growing epidemic of youth vaping.

This bill has moved to the Senate now (HB137). Please contact our senators, Greg Hertz, Dan Salomon, Mark Blasdel and Bob Keenan, to urge them to vote no. Call 406-444-4800.

— Carolyn Beecher, Ronan

Voter suppression, Montana style

The right to vote is under attack across the USA, and in Montana one form of it is going against what the voters in 2014 clearly affirmed in a referendum.

House Bill 176 would end same-day voter registration, which has been law since 2005, and close late, in-person registration by 5 p.m. the Friday before Election Day.

The bill is due to be heard in the Senate Administration Committee on Feb. 17, having already passed in the House. It is more than likely going to pass in the Republican-dominated Senate, and will be signed into law by Republican Gov. Gianforte.

Supporters cite the chance to stop voter fraud. Just how much voter fraud has Montana endured? It sounds much more like the Republican Party wants to make sure that there are fewer voters who may vote for Democrats. What are they so afraid of?

— Lucinda K Willis, Polson

Transgender bill ignores the evidence

House Bill 112, the Save Women’s Sports Act, requires interscholastic trans-athletes to participate within their sex assigned at birth. This legislation illustrates a remarkable lack of awareness of the current thinking in medical and athletic communities regarding transgender athletes. Moreover, athletic governing bodies have already decided what is fair in athletic competition.

In 2004 the IOC created guidelines for transgender athletes to compete: gender reassignment surgery, legal recognition of their assigned gender, two years of hormone therapy. In 2016 those guidelines were updated based upon the best advice of medical and scientific communities: surgery is no longer required, transwomen must have a testosterone level below a certain cutoff point for a year.

The NCAA doesn’t require surgery for transgender athletes and requires one year of testosterone blockers for transwomen. Their medical experts state the following: “… any strength and endurance advantages a transgender woman … may have as a result of her prior testosterone levels dissipate after about one year of estrogen or testosterone-suppression therapy — the assumption that a transgender woman competing on a women’s team would have a competitive advantage outside the range of performance and competitive advantage or disadvantage that already exists among female athletes is not supported by evidence.

— Caryl and Tom Cox, Polson

GOP restricting voting rights

House Bill 176 would make it harder for all Montanans to exercise their right to vote by removing Election Day registration. Since 2005 Montana voters have been able to register and vote on Election Day, and it was reaffirmed by 57% of Montana voters in 2014.

The argument for removing same-day registration is that it would help our local election officials run a more efficient Election Day. However, the Montana Association of Clerks and Reporters did not ask for this bill and they have not taken a position.

So, whom does it serve?

On Nov. 3, 2020, 241 people came to our Lake County Courthouse, registered and voted that day. They were likely first-time voters, people who recently moved here and some who hadn’t voted for a long time. Perhaps you were among them.

If HB176 had been in place, those 241 people would have been denied their constitutional right to vote.

We cannot allow our state legislators to pass HB176 restricting any Montanan’s constitutional right to vote. Contact your senator today. In Lake County it is greg.hertz@mtleg.gov and dan.salomon@mtleg.gov.

— Gerry Browning, Polson