If you are not paying attention, you should be. There is a massive crisis on our southern border.

Texas has decided to exercise their state’s right to secure their border and provide security for their residents. According to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, as of February 4th, 13 other states have come to join this fight in securing Texas’s border. This comes in complete defiance of the policies being carried out by the Biden Administration.

And this is a perfect example of states performing checks and balances on our federal government. This is federalism in action. This is what our founders prepared for and we as Montanans should be paying attention.

Obviously, the situation on our southern border is critical, but this brings up another thought I have been pondering for quite a while, that is very much connected: Our state and our people should be self-sufficient if there was a national emergency, disaster, or disruption in our current systems. To be clear, I am not calling for Montana to separate or to plan to separate from the Union.

What I have in mind is this; Montana is one of the most resource rich states in the nation. We have abundant water, energy, minerals, timber, farm land, and people who personify rugged individualism. Because of these incredible resources, we should have plans, policies, and infrastructure in place to be self-sufficient if there ever was a time in which the federal government became disrupted or disabled.

Call it planning for a rainy day. Call it prudent preparation.

Nevertheless, our state should be making a coordinated effort to bring communities together to create a foundation that can be relied upon in case something bad happens. Our power grids should be hardened against attacks, our resources should be protected, utilized, and bought and sold in Montana. There is no reason I should be buying ½ OSB for my building projects that is made in Canada. Look around at what God has blessed our state with… We should be good stewards of these blessings.

Conversely, this should not be done with new government programs at the tax payer’s expense. It could be done with the new marijuana tax that is already in effect. Just like, booze, tobacco, and gambling, the legalization of marijuana brought with it the stipulation of a tax. You already know I dislike taxes. But, looking at where the marijuana tax goes will surprise you. As it stands right now (HB.701):

The 20% Adult-Use Cannabis Tax and 4% Medical Marijuana tax are distributed at the state level:

$6 million to the Healing and Ending Addiction through Recovery and Treatment (HEART)

After the HEART distribution, the remainder goes to:

20% to Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to be used solely as funding for wildlife habitat

4% to the state park account

4% to the trails and recreational facilities account

4% to the nongame wildlife account

3% or $200,000, whichever is less, to the veterans and surviving spouses state special revenue account…

…The remainder to the general fund

I don’t think FWP needs more of our tax dollars. I don’t think “nongame wildlife” need more of our tax dollars, and before marijuana was legalized, our state parks, trails, and recreational facilities were doing just fine.

What this comes down to is my litmus test for spending: Is it a need or a want? We need to have our power grid hardened from attack, we need to have our utilities hardened from attack, and we need to have our state ready if that day were to ever come because the consequences would be so disturbing. As with many of my previous letters, these are just ideas. Remember, there are 100 representatives, 50 senators and a governor, who gets a say in these things. All I can do is share with you my ideas and thought process. I believe that many of you share the same concerns and we must band together.

-In absentia lucis, Tenebrae vincunt-

Jeff Stanek for House District 90