Helena – Two Republican state senators who recently announced their candidacies for statewide offices in Montana voted against bipartisan legislation Gov. Steve Bullock will sign into law today to remove roadblocks for Montana firefighters to receive compensation for work-related illnesses.
Gubernatorial candidate – Sen. Al Olszewski (R-Kalispell) – and candidate for secretary of state – Sen. Scott Sales (R-Bozeman) – both voted against the bipartisan Firefighter Protection Act, SB 160, introduced by Sen. Nate McConnell (D-Missoula).
After nine legislative sessions of Democratic lawmakers sponsoring firefighter health and safety legislation, the governor is expected to sign the bill into law this afternoon at a press conference in front of the Capitol.
“It’s unbelievable that legislators would vote to make it harder for Montana firefighters to get compensation for work-related illnesses, not to mention two Republican senators who are reaching for the next rung on the political ladder,” said Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Monica Lindeen said. “No serious candidate in Montana can disregard the needs of Montana’s firefighters who protect us every day in the face of unique dangers and occupational hazards. There’s no question our firefighters deserve compensation for the health care they need.”
On April 3, Olszewski announced his bid for the gubernatorial race, claiming one of his priorities would be affordable health care. Since then he has voted against Republican-sponsored legislation to continue health care coverage for 96,000 Montanans through Medicaid expansion and voted against legislation that could have lowered the cost of prescription drugs for Montanans.
On March 18, Sales announced his candidacy for secretary of state, the office that oversees elections in Montana. Since then, he has voted against several bills that would increase voting access for Montanans, including SB 148, which will allow Montanans who register to vote late to return their absentee ballots to their polling place on Election Day.
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