As a recently hired legislative aide for the 2016 Montana Legislature, I attended the 2016 State-Tribal Policy Symposium and got some great insights in the legislative process. At the session, I learned about how the state budget impacts tribal health care, colleges, and economic development efforts on the seven reservations.
The best session was the State-Tribal Priorities Panel. The panelists described how tribal members benefited from state Medicaid expansion, state funding to tribal colleges, and small business grants that tribal members secured to open businesses on the reservations. The panelists let tribal leaders know their involvement in the 2016 legislative session to testify in support of legislation was necessary to keep educational, economic development, and health care programs accessible to tribal members on and off the reservations.
I took the information I learned in this session and applied it to my work as Senate legislative aide and as staff aide for the Montana Indian Caucus. It helped me prepare legislative correspondence to state and federal agencies and conduct health, environmental, and education policy research to prepare for legislative consideration. I recommend this session for tribal leaders to prepare for the upcoming legislative session.
Lewis M. YellowRobe has a 20-year career in tribal, county, and city governments in Western Montana. He managed road and bridge projects to improve driver safety in Western Montana communities. He currently works for the Missoula County Public Schools in the Indian Education Program.