From the dome to your home. Ramblings, mutterings, keen observations and things you ought to know out of Helena from the mind of Phil Drake.

INTENSE EXCHANGE: A couple of political types got in touch with me last week following the gubernatorial debate to tell me the topic I had been hoping for was finally discussed among the candidates: Anti- Abortion v. Pro-Abortion Rights.

I think it was the most spirited discussion from both debates I viewed. And it showed the vast differences between the candidates.

I’ve made no secret that it is the one topic during the legislative session that when it comes before a committee I fear for the safety of everyone in the room.

It’s an emotional issue that often brings threats, albeit veiled threats, and insults.

Democrat Mike Cooney spoke in favor of a woman’s right to choose.

“I believe that a woman should have the right to make the most personal health care decisions in her life and government has no business being involved,” he said.

It surprised me when Republican Greg Gianforte said he doubted Roe V. Wade would be overturned by the Supreme Court.

“I am pro life,” Gianforte said. “I think life is precious and needs to be protected, but I abide by the decisions of the Supreme Court.”

Democratic governors have traditionally vetoed anti-abortion measures. But Republicans planning on a win and if they do I imagine the anti-abortion bills will return to the Legislature, where there will likely be Republican majorities. But should these bills pass and signed by the governor, I imagine there are several groups that will challenge them in the courts.

Of course I may be several chess moves ahead. I will reassess the issue on Nov. 4.

BOOK ‘EM: Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s book is now out.

It’s called “Grounded: A Senator’s Lessons on Winning Back Rural America” and I called it up online and found it for sale at several places.

Sen. Jon Tester has written a book. (Photo: AMAZON)

I think it should be a good read.

The Barnes and Noble in Great Falls says it has copies and Cassiopeia Books tells me they should have copies by Wednesday. Or you can call Cassiopeia and they will hold a copy for you. They are at 406-315-1515.

BALLOTS ARE OUT: The state was to send out the ballots for the Nov. 3 election on Friday. Hopefully you have gotten yours by now or within the next day or two. If you don’t get one soon, I would check with your county elections office.

In Cascade County that is 406-454-6803. The secretary of state’s website is

I think of voting as a privilege and sacred right. I hope you all vote.

COVID DERAILS AMTRAK DISCUSSION: I am told the Amtrak discussion I heralded last week has been postponed due to coronavirus outbreak concerns in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Jon Tester had secured a hearing that was to be held last Wednesday with the Senate Commerce Committee on the future of Amtrak,  with testimony to be provided by Havre’s Paul Tuss, executive director of the Montana Economic Developers Association.

Amtrak temporarily cut service from seven days a week to three days a week along the Hi-Line citing declining ridership and seeking an infusion of cash from the government. They are supposed to reevaluate the situation in February.

I will let you know if and when it is rescheduled.

COVID NUMBERS: The COVID-19 numbers in the state are growing at an alarming rate. We have passed the 17,000 mark and I keep looking for hopeful signs but don’t see any.

I remember when all of this started in March I thought we’d have to behave ourselves for three months, tops.

And here we are. What a mess.

I get several calls a week from people asking questions and I try to help out as best I can. I am among the mask wearers, so that will be my advice to you: wear your mask, if not to save yourself, but to save others.

I think it’s the decent thing to do. 

And take care of yourselves out there in these mighty strange times. Though others may try to make you think otherwise, we are all in this together.

THANKS, I THINK: I had the pleasure of chatting with Gary Gray from Belt the other week about the Belt Valley Times being available online.

He told me he enjoyed this column or my stories, I can’t remember which. But I guess it really doesn’t matter as they seem to blend together in my mind.

But I thanked him, told him I would try to cut down on the typos, dropped words and sentences that made no sense whatsoever.

“Don’t do that,” he said. “You’ll ruin it.”

I didn’t know how to take what he said. But who am I kidding? There is no way for me to catch my endless barrage of typos.

Dome Lights appears Sunday, unless the villagers catch me. Email me at [email protected] or call 406-231-9021. I’m based in Helena. Mail me at P.O.Box 1601, Helena, MT 59624

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