GREAT FALLS — For the first time since 2006, a familiar name to Great Falls voters is not appearing on the ballot.
After three terms in the Montana house and two in the Senate, Republican businessman Brian Hoven’s legislative service is coming to an end.
“I’m 80-years-old and it’s time to spend some time with the wife,” said Hoven.
Hoven first ran for state senate in 2006, losing to Democrat Mitch Tropila. Two years later, he won the first of three terms in House District 24. In 2014, he switched back to a senate run in District 13, which he has represented for almost eight years.
Hoven is proud of his accomplishments in the Montana legislature. He lists improving transportation for older and disabled Montanans and income tax simplification among his top achievements.
He was also happy to help provide some property tax relief for elderly Montanans.
“I managed this last term to increase the deduction from $6,600 to $13,200 so people that have been claiming a deduction in the past are going to get more of their tax refunded to them.,” said Hoven.
While tensions between parties at the national level are high, Hoven says his time in the halls of the state capitol has been very civil and that the divisiveness comes from other influences.
“It’s the advocacy groups, the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the Chamber of Commerce and other groups that take things out of context and put campaign bits together,” said Hoven.
He says he was the target of a such a group that falsely claimed he was against women.
Hoven says everyone associated with politics should read the book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie.
“Basically chapter one there says do not criticize, condemn, or complain,” said Hoven.
Hoven says he has faith in Montana elections although he doesn’t support same day registration.
He doesn’t foresee a major shift in power by either party in the Republican controlled legislature.
He says a big issue facing lawmakers in January will be how to distribute a massive budget surplus.
“We have an incredible surplus and there’s going to be a lot of people lining up and saying, ‘Give it to me,’” said Hoven. “There are some really good programs out there and I think there are some good minds up there and reason will prevail, and the money will be spent judiciously. Most of it is going to be one time only because we’ve got such a windfall that it’s not going to be something that’s sustainable over the years. So to devlop ongoing programs that require this amount of money would be fool hearty in my opinion, and I think most people feel that way.”
Other challenges Hoven sees include maintenance on state buildings, addressing ongoing issues at the state hospital, and corrections staffing. The Great Falls businessman would also like to see stricter penalties for shoplifting.
Hoven says his time at the Capitol didn’t come without disappointments.
He was upset that the 2017 session marked the end of the Cascade County "booter" program, which offered inmates a chance at rehabilitation before entering pre-release.
He also wishes lawmakers would have fought harder for a sales tax. He says that’s the only way to counteract rising property taxes, often brought on by narrowly passed mill levies.
And he’s disappointed at the lack of skills being offered to state prisoners while incarcerated, such as commercial driver's license training.
For the incoming lawmakers to Helena this January, he offers some simple advice.
“Listen...listen,” said Hoven. “Don’t speak too much. Be careful what you say.”
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