Native Americans urged to get involved in legislative process, KBZK, December 11, 2014
HELENA - The 2015 Legislature gets underway next month and several Native American leaders were recently in Helena to discuss strategies for the session.
State School Superintendent Denise Juneau told the group they need to have a seat at the table or else they'll be on the menu.
She said it was the participation of Native Americans that got Indian Education for All into the State Constitution and then found the funding for it years later. She also called on Indians to get involved in the legislative process, track bills and let their voices be heard in Helena.
"I think Medicaid expansion is going to be probably the top priority that comes out of this Legislature as part of this legislative session and Indian people need to be at the table as part of those discussions, whether they're working, whether they're not making enough even though they're working three jobs, no matter what income bracket it is, there has to be a pathway to access," Juneau said.
She said her priorities on the education front will be another attempt to raise the state dropout age from 16 to 18, and to ensure that schools that continue to teach students after they turn 19 still get the appropriate funding.
The Legislative Summit was conducted by the Montana Budget and Policy Center Partnership for Montana's Future.
MBPC is a nonprofit organization focused on providing credible and timely research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues that impact low- and moderate-income Montana families.