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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Shane Morigeau 2020 Election Questionnaire

Shane Morigeau is the 2020 Democratic candidate for state auditor.

Montana Public Radio is gathering information on all statewide primary candidates to publish as a resource for our audience. We asked all the statewide candidates to respond to the following questions via email, limiting their answers to 300 words per question. These are their unedited responses.

State Auditor candidate Shane Morigeau:

What is your full name as it will appear on ballots?

Shane A Morigeau

What is your age?

35 years old

Where do you live?

Born and raised in Ronan MT, live in Missoula MT.

What is your education background?

Master of Law from the University of Arizona

Juris Doctor from the University of Montana School of Law

B.S. in Resource Conservation from the University of Montana School of Forestry and Conservation

What is your current occupation?

State Representative (HD 95) and Attorney

Why are you running for this particular public office?

I believe Montanans still want candidates from our communities who have lived through the issues they seek to address. I grew up in Ronan, Montana in a family of modest means, with the desire to advocate and fight for others. I will not sit back and let any auditor support junk insurance plans, healthcare sharing scams, and massive insurance rate hikes.

State Auditor is one of the most important offices that people don't know about or don't talk about enough— it can have a direct impact on their health and ability to access healthcare. This office is an opportunity to ensure that all Montanans have affordable healthcare and fair and meaningful insurance coverage.

I don’t want people to settle for less just because they may not have thousands of dollars to challenge a company in court. Bad actors in securities and insurance need to know that Montana won't tolerate them. I want transparency in healthcare pricing and insurance and an auditor’s office that listens to Montanans. And, I want to ensure our access to public lands is protected on the Land Board.

What makes you qualified to hold this position?

I have almost a decade of legal experience in transactions, civil litigation, insurance, criminal law, employment law, and healthcare law. I’ve won cases at the Montana Supreme Court. I’ve won in federal, state, and tribal courts. I’ve also practiced law in administrative court. I have the legal experience to lead a serious charge to protect Montanans from bad actors.

I’ve served two legislative terms in leadership and passed nine separate bills with bipartisan support. Most of these bills were specifically focused on helping people in need: When insurance companies put their financial interests ahead of legislation to protect child sex abuse vicitims, I took them on and won. I made it illegal for an employee, contractor, or volunteer to use their position of power to have a relationship with a student in a school setting. I passed legislation providing low-income students with need-based aid so that they can attend two-year schools to fill our state’s needs for trade careers, nurses, technology, and more.

My legal and policy experience puts me in a strong position to hold the securities and insurance industries accountable and to advocate for and protect Montanans. I can put my broad and well-rounded legal background to work to protect Montanans. And, I don't come from the insurance industry or the securities industry, so you know I will put Montanans first.

What are three policy issues that distinguish you from your opponent(s)?

I will restore and strengthen the investigative and legal arm of the Auditor’s office. The incumbent let funding fall to the wayside in 2019. This will involve proposing and advocating for legislation to restore the funding to the office. The Auditor’s consumer protection functions should include protecting Montanans from bad actors and cracking down on health sharing scams and junk insurance. I want to ensure the professionals in the office are supported and empowered to do their vital work, and that positions that could be working for Montanans are not unnecessarily vacant.

Montana must address health care parity - I will go on educational tours of the state, focused on our lower-income and underserved communities to ensure people know their rights as insured and know what avenues are available to them in terms of accessing insurance and health care. These educational programs will also involve detailed information on the fairness and coverage of plans, and on financial management and protection from fraud. I want people to know this office is available to them at all times, not just when they are in an emergency situation.

I’m committed to working together with landowners to expand access on the Land Board. I will do everything I can to improve and protect access to our public lands.

What are the greatest issues facing Montana that have gone unsolved by elected officials and how would you address them?

Unfortunately, health sharing scams and junk insurance plans have not been adequately regulated and Montanans haven’t been adequately informed. Too many Montanans still cannot access fair, affordable insurance coverage that actually offers meaningful coverage as they deserve. I would address these connected issues with a two-part approach: first, by strengthening the regulatory actions of the office and letting bad actors know that they are not welcome in Montana; and second, by bringing a policy of transparency to the actions of the auditor’s office and to pricing changes and coverage decisions by insurance companies. When Montanans are informed, they make informed decisions. I will go through the data insurers base their pricing changes on with a fine-toothed comb, and make sure this data is available and clearly communicated to consumers, so that people can make the best-possible informed decision.

On the Land Board, too much energy and expense has been used on fighting landowners over the last four years. Many landowners have been roadblocked from making decisions about their own private property and decisions to improve public access. Instead, I will work with landowners to help them make decisions that are well within their rights, to improve public lands access.

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