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Making Bitterroot Valley Community College a reality
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Making Bitterroot Valley Community College a reality

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During this legislative session, in particular, Republicans in Helena have been focused on creating more good-paying jobs and passing legislation that will concretely improve the lives of Montanans.

This past week we continued building on our progress in doing so. Senate Joint Resolution 15 (SJ 15), one of my top legislative priorities for this session, passed both the House and Senate. SJ 15 approves the Bitterroot Valley Community College District's establishment located in Ravalli County, which will officially create the Bitterroot Community College and open a new world of opportunity for so many more Montanans in the Bitterroot.

Last May, Ravalli County voters spoke loud and clear in strong support of the community college district, so Ravalli legislators listened, and now we've delivered. Every Ravalli County legislator supported this bill. Fellow Hamilton native Rep. Dave Bedey helped the bill pass the House to get the process of making Bitterroot Valley Community College a reality.

And in the Senate, as the bill sponsor, I helped SJ 15 pass with massive bipartisan support – earning 47 of a possible 50 votes. I'm proud to have both sponsored the resolution and played the leading role in getting it passed through the Legislature.

This will be the first new community college in Montana in half a century. Clearly, it was long past time for the state to allow this important project to move forward. The passing of SJ 15 is the culmination of a years-long effort involving various groups and individuals working to create a local college that will help bring the American dream into greater reach for more Montanans and provide more opportunity for those living in Bitterroot Valley.

Creating the Bitterroot Valley Community College gives us the ability to educate and train our local workforce in and for our community. That means we're on track to create more opportunities and more good-paying jobs, right here in the Bitterroot.

Our new Community College is sure to be a worthy investment for our community. It will grow our economy, help more young Montanans reach new heights, and leave a lasting impact for decades to come.

There is no doubt that it is an exciting time for our community, but one of the best parts about this news is that we control the next steps. The Legislature's decision to pass SJ 15 puts the destiny of our local college in the hands of the citizens of the Bitterroot Valley. It's now a local decision where we go from here.

The next step will be to get the board of trustees seated to begin the work of transitioning to a premier Montana community college. I'm incredibly optimistic about what the future has in store for the Bitterroot, and I'm eager to embark on this new journey with you all. As we continue moving forward in the process, I encourage you to get involved and make your voices heard.

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