Missoula State Senator Ellie Hill spoke with KGVO News on Wednesday and provided her perspective on the upcoming legislative session, specifically on the topic of COVID 19 policies.

Hill attended legislative leadership meetings recently and described what she saw in Helena.

“What I've heard from our current leadership, which is President Blasdel and Speaker of the House Wiley Gault, is that they really want to see safety at the Capitol, and you've course heard from Governor Gianforte that he does plan to wear a mask at the Capitol,” said Hill. “What we saw over the last two days, though, was that nearly the entire Republican caucus refused to follow the Lewis and Clark County health officials’ minimum mandates, which really mirror what we see statewide as well as in Missoula County, and included that they just refuse to even wear masks.”

Hill is hopeful that once the entire caucus meets and discusses the COVID precautions, that all at the Legislature will abide by the Lewis and Clark County directives while they meet in Helena.

“Actually the vote happens via ZOOM on the 16th, so in one week, I would imagine that the leadership within their own caucus is going to circle the wagons and I'm sure consult with Governor Gianforte, because he and his staff share that building with us,” she said. “And so I would imagine that there will be some deference to what seems like to me is a person in leadership who's taking a much more common sense approach to the well-being of all Montanans.”

Hill said that the Governor elect reached out to her just after the election for a personal visit.

“Just days after he was elected, he called me on his personal cell and we got to visit for about 20 minutes,” she said. “He really committed that he understood the dynamics of the capitol, and he understood that he was going to represent the interests of all the people of Montana, not just right-wing Republicans or not just the majority party that elected him and so I found him to be a man of his word and I'm really looking forward to a partnership to come.”

Regarding the COVID 19 protocols, Hill said she has a very personal stake in the issue.

“My folks are 74 they've been married for 50 years and I joke with you, they're proud Trump supporters and they watch Fox News as loud as possible in my home when they come to visit,” she said. And you know, they wear masks because, you know, they don't want to die,” she said. “For people right now over the age of 70, if they contract the COVID 19 virus, 20% of them will be hospitalized and 10% will die and that's the numbers we're having from the CDC.”

The state legislative session is set to begin after the first of the year and continue through March.


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