Jodi Rave: Series on Indian lawmakers in Montana
"Rep. Margarett Campbell, D-Poplar, who holds a top leadership position in the Montana Legislature, expects the state budget to dominate much of her time as lawmakers propose, debate and pass bills during the 90-day session.

“We will be practicing fiscal restraint,” Campbell said. “We don't have the revenue we anticipated and we still need to put money away. It's going to be really important that the bills that are introduced are bills that are absolutely essential.”

Campbell, an Assiniboine, was elected by her legislative peers as House Democratic floor leader. Her position allows American Indians to have a strong presence in the Legislature. In 2009, nine Native lawmakers comprise 6.6 percent of the Legislature. An all-time high was reached in 2007 when 10 Natives held elected posts. Montana has ranked among the top three states in the country who send Natives to the Legislature, including Alaska and Oklahoma.

As Democratic floor leader, Campbell will have a dual leadership role among Native lawmakers and the entire legislative assembly. The returning veteran of the Native caucus said she welcomes the “vibrant, new members” who will round out the Native team. “It's real important as an Indian caucus that we meet and support each other and really become allies on issues that are important to the tribes,” she said.

The caucus has already met to discuss matters important to all Native communities. “By starting out early, even before the session begins, will give us time to bond on our issues and think about the issues that are important to tribes across the state versus, for example, what's important to the Fort Peck Tribes,” Campbell said."

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Jodi Rave: Veteran legislator Campbell focused on budget (The Missoulian 1/6)

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