Following his appearance on Thursday’s KGVO Radio Talk Back show, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte issued a statewide drought emergency, as well as asking Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to declare a drought disaster for Montana.

Gianforte described the tinder-dry conditions, especially in eastern Montana.

“Yesterday, I asked the USDA to make sure in their drought designations they include all of Montana,” said Gianforte. “This is really laying the groundwork for getting federal funds for assistance to our agricultural producers. It's been devastating to the producers, and it's had an impact on our tourism industry, particularly as the rivers continue to drop, if we need to shut them down for fishing, then that will impact the tourist industry. So I would just ask folks, again, be careful out there and if you would say a prayer for some rain.”

Gianforte also explained why he ended the statewide COVID-19 emergency late Wednesday afternoon.

“I can't think of a better present to give the people a Montana than yesterday rescinding the pandemic emergency order,” he said. “Montana is open for business and we're getting back to normal. We saw continued decline in new infections, hospitalizations were down, and the reality is that it's been a tough year for Montana families and businesses. We’re on the other side of this thing, so it was time coming into Independence Day weekend to end the emergency order so that we could get back to normal.”

Gianforte also referenced his order, the first in the nation, to end the additional COVID unemployment benefits.

“One hotel owner I spoke with, he just had to pay the mortgage and keep the doors open,” he said. “He had been working the front desk he had been doing laundry, and cleaning the rooms himself because that was the only way he could because he couldn't get help. But, in the week after we got rid of these pandemic supplemental unemployment benefits, he had 60 applications for work in his hotel. So this is encouraging. I want to give people the satisfaction that comes from working hard, getting a paycheck, and making ends meet.”

Looking to the future, Gianforte said he will begin encouraging all state agencies to emphasize good service to the public.

“We're working on ‘The Comeback Plan 2.0’,” he said. “We have our regulatory review called the Red Tape Relief Task Force, and I'm working with my management team. We've hired new leadership for every agency and we're introducing a foreign concept to state government called ‘customer service’, and we're starting to see a difference there.”

Gianforte is continuing his tour of all 56 Montana counties.


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