His first monthly visit on Thursday's Talk Back show was busy with callers for questions for Governor Greg Gianforte, one of the few public officials who welcomes calls during media appearances.

One of the first questions dealt with new President Joe Biden and Congress and possible moves to limit Montanans’ right to keep and bear arms, to which Gianforte said he would work with other state officials not to let that happen.

“There are a number of pieces of legislation moving through the Montana legislature,” said Gianforte. “I'm looking forward to getting them on my desk. One of those bills is HB 102, which would provide for constitutional carry here in the state. I'm looking forward to signing that bill, and if there are attempts to infringe on our state's rights as it relates to our constitutional rights, know that I will work side by side with our Attorney General to oppose any of those efforts.”

Regarding ending the current statewide mask mandate, Gianforte again stated his two-pronged approach, the first being get the people of Montana vaccinated, and the second being legislation to protect businesses.

“The legislature has acted quickly,” he said. “That legislation went through the Senate; it was amended in the House and its back in the Senate now. I expect it on my desk early next week. That's the second criteria I've laid out, and, again, I look forward to getting rid of these masks.”

Gianforte, along with other western states’ governors, is very concerned with the cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

“We had people that were working in Montana, they were building substations, they were burying pipe, and with a stroke of a pen, they had to pack up their lunchbox to go home to no job,” he said. “And what's really tragic about this is that the Keystone XL pipeline in Montana would have generated over $100 million in taxes to pay our teachers, to build infrastructure and to pay for law enforcement. It’s true that the Keystone XL pipeline was a lifeline to rural Montana.”

Gianforte said he received a shock when he decided to walk around and personally greet state workers in agencies adjacent to the Capitol building.

“I had one nearly 30-year state employees say to me, they had never seen a governor in their building before,” he said. “This is literally across the street from the Capitol. I walked over to the FWP (Fish Wildlife and Parks) the other day and at least five people said they had never seen a governor in the building. So clearly, I campaigned on a platform of changing the way we do business in Helena, and we've already started.”

Gianforte has committed to appearing on Talk Back once a month to take calls from listeners.

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