I am proud of Montana for setting a good example, with many responsible state policies.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? Here's a selection of my preferences and ideas.
End cannabis prohibition. (Cannabis is good for many health issues, and could be good for Montana tourism. In today's economy, let's tax *gently* & regulate.) In my opinion, ending "the drug war" is the single easy issue that would make the most difference to justice and prosperity in the US.
I'm rated A- by NORML, see
Our state could really benefit from producing industrial hemp. Let's provide the legal environment for this multiproduct oil, fiber, and biomass industry. Hemp reportedly needs fewer pesticides than most agricultural crops, and tolerates marginal environments well.
End civil asset forfeiture. (See The Washington Post Nov2015 and Alternet Feb2018.) Incentives to "police for profit" are corrosive to public trust of the professionals we rely on to enforce our civil codes.
NO for-profit prisons. Restraint of perpetrators is needed, not punishment beyond the (inherently distressing) loss of freedom and complete dependency of incarceration. I want to build programs for better prisoner orientation, rehabilitation, and education. Prisoners benefit from building healthy connections to their free community, so that they can emerge with integration and resource skills.
NO death penalty. Our justice system makes mistakes, and unfortunately it does not always act fairly. Our police, prosecutors, and judges are honorable but imperfect people, doing a difficult job that often involves judgement calls. New evidence and methods are sometimes found that should be applied to previously settled cases, without the horror of realizing that an innocent person was given the ultimate, irreversible penalty.
According to many reputable studies, the occasional imposition of overwhelmingly harsh penalties do not significantly deter crime. On a merely practical level, carrying through a death penalty frequently costs more than imposing life without parole. A long and uncertain post-conviction pre-execution process can distress victims' family members. Finally, convicts serving extended sentences may still contribute to society while incarcerated.
Justice should be prompt; we deserve sufficient budgets and staff. We should continue to build Montana's plain-language legal resources, and fairly fund public defenders. Citizens need help coping with the complexities of modern laws and statutes. Adequate legal advice should not be available only to those who are well off.
I support funding de-escalation training and negotiation training for officers of the law. We all benefit when they have the skills to avoid danger, and to express the community's kindness.
I support the knowledge among jurors that they are empowered to judge whether a law *should* in fairness be applied in the particular case they consider, along with their task of considering whether the law was broken by the defendant.
I support Ranked Choice Voting! We should be able to indicate a first, second, and third preference on our ballot. If our first choice doesn't get enough votes to win, then our vote counts for our second choice, and so on.
We would be able to vote for our real favorite first, and not worry about "wasting our vote" on someone reputed to be less electable, or about splitting the vote between two good candidates.
This also has the advantage of reducing mud-slinging. A candidate who attacks someone's favorite candidate, is less likely to be chosen as second choice by that voter.
Corporations are not people. Corporations are permitted by, and should be monitored and regulated by, government agencies.
I think it makes sense to accept citizen signatures for all approved ballot initiatives, and for relevant requests for candidate or party inclusion on ballots, at every county clerk's office.
To reduce the role of promotional funding in Montana campaigns, an online public political candidate forum could be a valuable voter research resource. I propose an inviting state webpage with links to candidate campaign pages, and to videos sponsored by campaigns. We should include that webpage URL with voter information materials, and suggest local library computer access. Montana already submits information for voters into our newspapers - we might encourage citizens' research by adding a list of resources such as votesmart.org and ballotpedia.org .
Get rid of Daylight Saving Time in Montana. I believe there are observed health crisis and accident spikes associated with jerking people's schedules around that way. Arizona did it.
Remote medical consultation services would benefit rural areas very much.
Public health policies should support voluntary birth control knowledge and use, and offer true medical science information about pregnancy termination options. Pregnancy should be considered a private / medical matter. (I would like to check into progress on FDA approval of inexpensive, reversible male sterilization developed in India recently.)
I am honored that the 2018 candidacy of Kathryn G.H. Nicholes has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana.
I support net neutrality. The internet is currently unique, crucial public infrastructure.
We need enough good temporary living shelters, and available life advocates, to help people in need become, and stay, stable and healthy. We need pet-friendly policies at many shelters. On a practical level, pets are both inexpensive therapy and important family members. Asking someone to give up their pet's safety for their own is cruel.
Montana needs better public transportation, with connections to national systems. I support Amtrak, and advocate renewing passenger service through Bozeman / Livingston. We need a better network of bus service (or light rail); there is *no* service to many counties.
Post Office banking services - check cashing, savings accounts, debit cards, and maybe simple small loans - would benefit rural and underserved communities. Postal banking served citizens in the U.S. from the early 1900s until 1966. Let's bring it back to fill modern needs.
I propose we seriously consider a Montana state bank, like North Dakota's state bank. See Mother Jones Mar2009. I think a state bank would increase Montana's economic stability, and independence from the banking lobby.
We should encourage small agriculture, such as aquaponics and greenhouses, backyard poultry and livestock (I oppose the burdensome proposed microchipping regulations), mushroom growing, legal local sale of fresh unpasturized milk, and more local and farmers' markets.
I support wildlife corridors, and the linking of habitat sections by strategic road bridges or underpasses.
Montana should encourage home school / private school / public school association. I believe learning about diversity of education is valuable for students. I encourage the inclusion of civics education in schools. Knowledge is power; fund libraries, and public archive and news access.
The legal benefits of marriage should be equally available to any two adult people who properly apply. (Consider repeal of the current bigamy / group marriage prohibitions. This may have complex ramifications of inheritance, joint tax filing, etc.)
I support the "right to repair". Owners should not be legally prevented from exploring, repairing, and modifying machines they have purchased, including examining proprietary software.
I think requiring registration of weapons would be neither effective nor efficient at ending violence. To reduce accidents, increase convenient education opportunities of safe handling.
Regulation focus should be on users - conviction of a non-self-restraint crime (threat or violence), or a legal or medical designation of mental non-competence, should potentially disqualify a person from possession and use of various dangerous tools including guns, explosives, and vehicles.
Use whatever bathroom you feel comfortable using. Don't require segregated bathroom facilities. Users of public bathrooms are expected to behave politely. Force and fraud are crimes anywhere - public or private - and should not be tolerated.
End all self-medication and recreational drug prohibition. We can regulate the more problematic ones, as we already do for alcohol and tobacco. Support medical and community addressing of addiction and behavior issues, including supervised spaces for addicts to use their drug safely.
End prostitution blue laws. (See Wikipedia's Prostitution_in_Rhode_Island page .) This service industry could be taxed and regulated.  There may be tourism benefits. We can learn from Nevada's experience.
ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
NO new coal power plants in Montana. Retire coal-sourced energy generation responsibly as we reach existing plant end-of-life. Work to create and spread power technologies that favor limiting possible climate change. The goal is to return atmospheric CO2 to below 350ppm. (Please reference Storms of My Grandchildren by James Hansen for relevant science.)
We should evaluate thorium reactor projects, which have the potential to incinerate high-activity nuclear waste, and produce energy from natural thorium and depleted uranium. Some modern designs also have the advantage of shutting their activity down without cooling maintenance (or other intervention) when normal operation is interrupted, such as by an earthquake. Safe, steady sources of power are needed to supplement renewables like sun and wind generation.
I support the Gordon Butte energy storage facility project in Meagher County.
Consider a state sponsored notice of a donation drive to build / support distributed & clean energy generation and storage infrastructure. I have signed up for NorthWestern Energy's E+ Green, have you?
MORALE AND PARTICIPATION
To build citizen engagement with state and community issues, let's experiment with an income tax option of citizen choice of allocation of a portion of their owed taxes: Our state website could have information about existing budget categories and proposed new projects, including budget estimates, projected benefits and possible drawbacks. I hope for both government and public participation in proposals of science, medicine, community infrastructure, public transportation, statewide water infrastructure, and affordable housing projects.
- Kathryn G.H. Nicholes, 21 October 2018
EOF. ("Ensure Our Freedom")