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During debate on SB295, the bill to repeal the oil and gas tax holiday providing new revenue to address oil development impacts, lobbyists with close ties to the oil industry as well as representing oil and gas producing counties, accused supporters of fabricating and exaggerating the impacts in Eastern Montana.

While process dictates that the merits of such an idea should be debated, as a lifelong Eastern Montanan, I am offended by this behavior.

Resource development in the area is undeniably causing an influx of new people to small towns like Baker, Bainville and Culbertson. This in turn is placing additional demands on already scarce housing and jam-packed classrooms. Not to mention the strain it causes on our severely outdated infrastructure — roads, sewer, water, and bridges. And with an influx of new people, public safety becomes more and more of a concern. To say these impacts are fabricated or "overblown" is blatantly untrue.

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What is even more offensive is the fact that these very lobbyists bemoan the same "overblown" impacts in favor of bills that take money from the general fund, or tax workers in the area more. The needs in Eastern Montana due to resource development impacts are very real, and I for one do not appreciate my community being a political football in policy debates. We need serious discussions about how tax policy, particularly that affecting the oil and gas industry, impact our communities, not lies and hypocritical behavior.

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Tavis Renner

Baker

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