Jodi Rave: Series on Indian lawmakers in Montana
"Rep. David Roundstone, D-Busby, a first-term legislator, began the 61st session of the Montana Legislature by introducing two bills that would allow Native people to reap greater benefits from the state's natural resources.

House Bill 168 - heard by the Federal Relations, Energy and Telecommunications Committee on Thursday - would make it easier for Native farmers to participate in the farm loan program. And House Bill 162 would increase grant awards that Montana tribes receive from state coal revenues.

Roundstone said expanding the farm loan program would stimulate tribal economies. “If we can lessen the restrictions on loans, then these farmers and ranchers would have access to these dollars. It won't be as stringent as it was in the past if it goes through. We'd help them get on their feet and stay on their feet.

“It's important to the people in Montana, especially down my way where people are predominantly farmers and ranchers.”

Under current regulations, a rancher can qualify for a loan from the state's agricultural loan authority if their net worth does not exceed $250,000. Roundstone's bill would expand loan approval for individuals with net worth up to $450,000.

The Northern Cheyenne legislator will serve on four House committees, including Legislative Administration, Taxation, Transportation and Agriculture. He is one of nine Native legislators elected to serve in the 2009 Legislature."

Get the Story:
Jodi Rave: Roundstone enters bills on farming, coal (The Missoulian 1/16)

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