Governor Greg Gianforte on the Montana Morning News Program
In one of his first interviews after his bout with COVID-19, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte called into the KGVO Montana Morning News show early Friday morning.
Asked about how he was feeling after having COVID-19, Gianforte said he was fatigued for a few days but as of today was feeling ‘strong as a bull’.
The first topic dealt with two bills he just signed into law that would provide more freedom of speech and association on Montana’s college campuses.
“College should be a place where people can have free exchange of ideas,” said Governor Gianforte. “And yet we've seen some crazy ideas where people have created these ‘free speech zones’ somehow implying that the First Amendment only applies within the box. These bills were very simple. They said the First Amendment freedom of speech applies everywhere on campus, and there's also free association, that’s a First Amendment right to associate with the people that you agree with. We've signed both of these into law and this is going to apply to U of M there in Missoula.”
After hearing of the Missoula Board of Health’s decision to reduce COVID-19 restrictions to recommendations starting May 11, Gianforte was encouraged at how the health department was responding to the pandemic.
“The steps we've taken to get rid of hours of operation, to capacity limits, to the mask mandates, getting lawsuit protection for small businesses, and then making the vaccine available to all adults goes forward,” he said. “As hospitalizations are down, new infections are down and we are getting back to normal. I'm pleased to see the local health board consider the facts and make decisions that allow people to get back to normal.”
Gianforte also spoke of a recently signed bill that will make affordable housing easier to achieve in Montana.
“What this bill does is streamlines the permitting process for subdivisions, so that builders can get their permits and we can bring the cost of housing down,” he said. “Some are arguing that we ought to do wealth redistribution, and force developers to build low cost housing, but I think a better approach is to attack the underlying costs like local zoning ordinances, and in this case, the red tape. We're going to cut the red tape so more people can afford a home.”
Gianforte recently collaborated with the Missoula Chamber of Commerce to create a website called ‘Workforce Connections’ that helps provide specialized training for those seeking a career in Montana, and he will be in Missoula to promote that relationship on Monday.
“On Monday I'll be in Missoula signing into law our trades education package,” he said. “This encourages small businesses. It'll pay for up to 50% of the scholarship to send one of their employees to get training in a trade, such as carpentry, plumbing, welding or machining. There's a workforce shortage and we have people reentering the workforce, so let’s help them get the skills.”
Gianforte will be in Missoula to visit a construction site on Monday to sign the Montana Trades Education Credit bill.