The Montana Democrats selected Rob Quist Sunday to run in the special election for the U.S. House of Representatives. Continue reading “Democrats choose Quist”
The Yellowstone County Democratic Party works closely with the Montana Democratic Party toward a common goal of providing jobs with a livable wage, economic growth, a healthy environment, a quality education system and affordable health care for all Montanans.
Senator Turns up the Heat on USDA to Protect Montana Producers, Consumers, and Barbeques
Following the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s removal of five Brazilian meat packing plants from its approved exporter list due to safety concerns, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is once again calling on Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to ban imports of Brazilian meat until safety concerns can be adequately addressed.
“Our ranchers raise the best beef and pork products in the world,” Tester wrote. “They adhere to extremely high safety standards and make extraordinary efforts to provide consumers with desirable and safe products. I believe it is unwise to risk the public’s trust in domestic meat products by potentially allowing harmful imports to make it into our marketplace.”
The Brazilian beef market was rocked by scandal in March as news reports confirmed that Brazilian meat packers were using a cancer-causing acid in their meat. This led to several nations temporarily halting the importation of Brazilian meat.
As a result, Tester immediately introduced a bill to ban Brazilian beef for 120 days until safety concerns could be addressed.
Just last week, Tester questioned Secretary Perdue about the Department’s plan to inspect Brazilian beef.
In 2015, Tester successfully blocked the importation of Brazilian beef from regions where foot-and-mouth disease was prevalent.
Tester’s full letter to Secretary Perdue can be found HERE.
Senator Introduces Resolution as 13 Senators Draft Secret Health Care Bill Behind Closed Doors
Saying democracy “requires full transparency in the legislative process,” U.S. Senator Jon Tester is fighting to shine more light on the secret Senate health care bill.
Tester today introduced a Senate Resolution demanding a transparent, bipartisan debate from the 13 Senators who are drafting the secret health care bill behind closed doors. Tester is specifically demanding a public hearing and an opportunity for Montanans to provide input on any legislation that will impact access and affordability to health care.
“13 Senators are drafting a secret bill that could kick thousands of Montanans off health insurance, put Montana’s rural hospitals at risk, and force folks approaching retirement to pay more for health care,” Tester said. “Montanans deserve accountability and transparency, and it is time to take this bill out from behind closed doors and give Montanans an open debate about the future of our health care system so we can bring down costs and increase access to health care.”
The lawmakers in control of the Senate have held no public hearings or debate on their secret, partisan health care bill, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated the bill will go directly to the Senate floor for a vote without receiving a single committee hearing, or input from those affected by the legislation.
Tester’s Senate Resolution reads as follows:
Whereas the people of the United States deserve and demand that legislation be created through a transparent, bipartisan process to ensure that they can hold their elected representatives accountable;
Whereas the proper functioning of representative democracy requires full transparency in the legislative process;
Whereas it has been widely reported that a group of Senators is working privately in a partisan fashion to craft national health care legislation in the Senate;
Whereas this group is secretly gathering in closed-door meetings that exclude the public and press;
Whereas Senate leadership has refused to commit to holding a single public hearing on this legislation before going directly to the Senate floor for a vote;
Whereas the draft health care legislation under consideration by a secretive group is one of the largest public policy reforms taken up by Congress in generations;
Whereas this legislation will affect the lives of all people in the United States;
Whereas health care constitutes 1/6 of the gross domestic product of the United States; and
Whereas Congress is elected by the people to serve the people: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that the creation of any sweeping health care legislation must be done in a transparent, bipartisan manner in full view of the people of the United States and not behind closed doors.
Tester yesterday blasted the secret, partisan health care bill on the Senate Floor, and he has been sharing firsthand accounts from Montanans who could lose access to health insurance, pay higher costs for prescription drugs, and be forced to pay more because of pre-existing conditions because of this legislation.
YELLOWSTONE DEMOCRATIC CLUB DINNERS/FORUMS FOR CANDIDATES IN THE BILLINGS CITY ELECTIONS:
1) Dinner/Forum for the Primary Election Candidates for Mayor – Tuesday, July 18th. RSVP before July 8th.
2) Dinner/Forum for the General Election Candidates for Billings City Council – Tuesday, September 19th. RSVP before September 9th.
3) Dinner/Forum for the General Election Candidates for Billings Mayor – Tuesday, October 17th. RSVP before October 7th.
Separate announcements with more details will be sent out before each dinner. These dinners/forums are designed solely to educate Club members and the general public about candidates in the Billings elections so they can make an informed vote.
The dinners will be at the Billings Food Bank/Fortin Culinary Center, 2112 4th Ave. North.
The evening starts with sign in/no host reception and net working at 5:15pm.
This reception is designed to allow people to talk individually with the candidates. All candidates in the Billings elections are welcome at any of the dinners including candidates who will not be speaking, e.g., candidates for City Council are welcome at the July 18th dinner; they will be introduced but not allowed to speak.
A buffet dinner starts at 6:00pm. The menus have not been decided. There will be a vegan option. Cost $10. Pay at the door by cash or check. If you wish you can bring a bottle of your favorite beverage or wine to share with your friends. The meals are excellent. Our chef, Ashley, loves to cook.
Speeches will start at 6:30pm. There will be an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the speeches.
It is very important for people to RSVP at least 10 days before the scheduled dinner by emailing email@example.com .
Please state the number of people in your party and meal preference (vegan or regular). If your RSVP is received you will receive a “Thank You” in reply.
The Yellowstone Democratic Club is NOT the Yellowstone County Democratic Central Committee. The Yellowstone County Democratic Central Committee is a body created by Montana Law and as such is the legal Democratic Party for Yellowstone County. By law it is composed of two Precinct Committee Persons from each Precinct in Yellowstone County. Under the law it can do certain legal acts like nominate a replacement for Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy when he resigned. In contrast the Yellowstone Democratic Club is a simple social club of Democrats and Progressives from the entire Yellowstone Basin from Gardiner to the Missouri River. Its members meet to have fun socializing and net working with fellow Democrats and Progressives and hear presentations of a political nature. The Yellowstone Democratic Club WILL NOT be endorsing any Candidate in the Billings elections; it WILL NOT be giving any campaign contribution or other direct support for any Candidate in the Billings elections.
AGAIN, TO EAT AT THE DINNER YOU MUST RSVP BY EMAILING firstname.lastname@example.org at least 10 days before the date set for the dinner.
Paul Van Tricht, President
Yellowstone Democratic Club
Senator Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Delivery of Care for Veterans
U.S. Senator Jon Tester introduced a bipartisan bill to address the crippling workforce shortages at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and improve health care delivery for the nation’s veterans.
There are currently 45,000 staff vacancies at the VA. Approximately 38,000 of those positions are responsible for delivering front line care. The VA also faces a high turnover rate of medical staff for higher-paying private sector positions and challenges recruiting qualified staff in rural areas.
Tester’s Better Workforce for Veterans Act will improve the VA’s ability to recruit qualified medical professionals while incentivizing employees to keep working at the VA.
“We must empower the VA to hire the very best doctors, nurses and front line medical staff so this nation can live up to the promises we made to those who served,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Workforce shortages have plagued the VA all across this nation and fixing it requires putting politics aside to do right by Montana’s veterans.”
The Better Workforce for Veterans Act will do the following:
- Create a VA-wide database for vacant and hard-to-fill positions.
- Expand successful partnerships that bring recent graduates, veterans and private-sector employees to the VA.
- Cut red tape to allow the VA to hire Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists.
- Provide funding and flexibility to hire dynamic regional and local VA leaders.
- Survey why employees choose to leave the VA.
“The healthcare field is a highly competitive employment environment, and the Better Workforce for Veterans Act will ensure that the VA is able to go after and hire the best talent available,” said Matt Kuntz, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Montana Chapter. “We are deeply thankful for Senator Tester’s continue efforts to expand and improve the workforce serving Montana’s veterans.”
More information about the Better Workforce for Veterans Act can be found online HERE.
Overwhelming Enthusiasm for Rob Forces Campaign to Find Larger Venue
Rob Quist for Montana today announced that it has been forced to move its Saturday, May 20th rally in Billings with Sen. Bernie Sanders to a larger venue, following overwhelming excitement and enthusiasm for Rob Quist’s campaign.
New campaign rally location for Billings: Billings MetraPark, Expo Center Small Bay.
Attendees can enter through North or West entrances. Montanans can RSVP by texting BERNIE to 30644 or by going to http://robquist.org/bernie
Full Billings event details:
WHO: Rob Quist, Senator Bernie Sanders, local Montanans
WHERE: Billings Metrapark, Expo Center Small Bay, 308 6th Ave N, Billings, MT
WHEN: Doors open at 8:00PM. Program begins at 8:30PM, Saturday, May 20
Billings, Mont. – The Yellowstone County Democrats will hear U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont speak at their annual fundraiser known as the Truman Dinner. Since late April, it has been known that Sanders would be traveling to Montana to assist Democrat Rob Quist in Quist’s election for Montana’s lone congressional seat.
Sanders will be joined by Gov. Steve Bullock, Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, and Congressional Candidate Rob Quist at the fundraiser. This is the second time that Sanders has visited Montana for public events.
The Truman Dinner, named in honor of Harry S. Truman, will be held at the Doubletree Hotel by Hilton, formerly known as the Crowne Plaza, located at 27 N, 27th St. in Downtown Billings. The fundraiser is May 20, 2017, doors will open at 4:30PM, the reception will start at 5:00PM, and dinner will start at 6:00PM. Individual tickets are $55, platinum sponsor (two tickets) are $150, silver sponsor (four tickets) are $300, and gold sponsor (8 tickets for a reserved table) are $600. For more information or to purchase tickets please go to www.ycdems.org/truman. Tickets are limited at this time.
Sanders is also scheduled to speak at a rally for Rob Quist at 8:30PM at the Billings Depot on the same night.
Senator Jon Tester today introduced bipartisan legislation to allow for faster firing of bad employees and strengthen protections for whistleblowers at the VA.
Tester’s bill, cosponsored by Republican Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), streamlines the VA’s process for reviewing and firing employees who engage in misconduct or perform poorly without sacrificing their due process rights.
“This bipartisan bill will hold bad employees accountable while protecting the hardworking folks who are responsible for serving veterans,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.“The challenges at the VA are many, but tough problems require commonsense solutions and this bipartisan bill is a product of what happens when you put aside politics and work together. This bill will make the VA stronger and ensure it can better deliver for Montana veterans.”
The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act has three major provisions. The bipartisan bill will:
Increase accountability within the VA by:
- Giving the VA Secretary the authority to expedite the removal, demotion or suspension of employees at the VA based on performance or misconduct.
- Shortening the process to remove employees at all levels of the department when evidence proves that they have engaged in misconduct or are performing poorly.
- Incentivizing managers to address poor performance and misconduct among employees by including these issues in the annual performance plan.
- Prohibiting bonuses for employees who have been found guilty of wrongdoing.
- Prohibiting relocation expenses for employees who abuse the system.
Protect whistleblowers by:
- Codifying the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection at the VA and mandating that the head of the office be selected by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, giving Congress more oversight over the department.
- Requiring the VA to evaluate supervisors based on their handling of whistleblowers.
- Requiring the VA to provide department-wide training regarding whistleblower complaints once a year.
Strengthen VA leadership by:
- Giving the VA Secretary additional flexibility in hiring and firing senior executives.
- Removing bureaucratic barriers to holding senior executive accountable by expediting executive appeals and sending them directly to the VA Secretary.
- Reducing benefits for employees who are disciplined or removed for misconduct.
Tester’s bipartisan bill is supported by multiple organizations, including the American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart, the Project on Government Oversight, AMVETS, and Got Your 6.
“The American Legion applauds this bipartisan effort to provide Secretary Shulkin additional tools to increase accountability and address poor performance within the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Charles E. Schmidt, National Commander of the American Legion. “The media’s exposure of the 2014 Phoenix VA Medical Center wait-time scandal revealed that hundreds of veterans suffered and died while awaiting treatment. Incompetent and uncaring employees throughout the VA system utterly failed to execute their fiduciary responsibilities and violated the Hippocratic Oath. Furthermore, they failed to uphold the American peoples’ promise to care for our veterans.”
“Paralyzed Veterans of America has long called for measures that bring greater accountability and protects those employees who have the courage to call out fraud, waste, and abuse in the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Sherman Gillums, Executive Director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. “We firmly believe that the culture of a company, organization, or federal agency is shaped by the worst behaviors its leader is willing to tolerate. VA Accountability & Whistleblower Protection Act is the first major step toward reshaping behavior in VA by tolerating bad behavior and poor performance no more. Our veterans deserve it; and so do the hardworking public servants of VA who are tired of being overshadowed by the performance of substandard managers and employees.”
“Accountability must be a two-way street,” said VFW National Commander Brian Duffy.
“The VFW salutes VA Committee Chairmen Sen. Johnny Isakson and Rep. Phil Roe, and their ranking members, Sen. Jon Tester and Tim Walz, as well as Sen. Marco Rubio for introducing a bipartisan, bicameral, and comprehensive accountability bill. The VFW wants Secretary Shulkin to have the authority to manage his people in a manner expected of all senior executives, public or private. The VFW wants the secretary to weed out the nonperformers, and especially the criminals, regardless of whether the crime was committed on or off-duty. And the VFW wants this bill passed, because maintaining the status quo doesn’t work for those who have borne the battle.”
“Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America applauds the leadership and diligence of Senators Rubio, Isakson and Tester toward crafting this new bill to enable the removal of bad-acting employees at the VA,” said IAVA Legislative Director Tom Porter. “Nearly three years ago, the scandal in Phoenix alerted the country to the outrageous state of the VA health care system. IAVA and our members have fought since that time to give the VA Secretary the tools needed to address workforce accountability and save veterans’ lives. We encourage Senate and House leaders to quickly work together to pass the strongest VA accountability measure that can be signed into law.”
“MOPH believes it is absolutely critical that VA has the tools to enforce employee accountability and protect whistleblowers,” said Hershel Gober, National Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. “We support this important legislation and thank Senators Rubio, Isakson and Tester for bringing it forward.”
“I am proud to support your VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act,” said Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project on Government Oversight. “This bill, if enacted, will significantly improve the landscape for whistleblowers within the VA. I thank you for your leadership and dedication to not only improving whistleblower protections at the VA but to making sure the agency has the tools and resources to implement those protections in a meaningful way.”
Carolyn Lerner, head of the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal investigative organization that is tasked with protecting whistleblowers, praised Tester’s efforts to bring more accountability and oversight to the VA.
“We support the Committee’s decision to establish the VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection,” said Lerner. “The Committee’s legislation takes additional, necessary steps to promote accountability, protect whistleblowers, and improve care at the VA. Additionally, we support the Committee’s decision to include whistleblower protection criteria in the performance plans of all VA supervisors and managers. This step will create additional incentives for supervisors to respond constructively to employee’s concerns, helping to improve the culture at the VA.”