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Amid the stress created the coronavirus we must not forget other priorities. This pandemic will pass, and with it will unfold the future – for our community and our state and country.

Toward that end, we must all make a point of responding to the 2020 U.S. census. This is a simple process that can be completed online. It only takes a matter of minutes and great deal hinges on getting everyone counted, both locally and statewide.

Consider that the state of Montana has only one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. That’s thin representation that limits the state’s ability to have its voice heard. It has been widely speculated Montana will get a second seat based on this census – but that’s unlikely unless everyone is counted.

Also notable is the fact the state receives about $2,000 annually in federal funds for every person counted in the census. The census is done every 10 years. Every person who is not counted translates into $20,000 lost to the state over the next 10 years.

The census will also be used to redraw the districts allotting representation in the state Legislature. Gallatin County is the fastest growing county in the state. Making sure everyone is counted will ensure we get the most representation possible in Helena. And that’s vital to advancing causes unique to our area.

Bozeman is also expected to surpass 50,000 in population if everyone is counted. And that will mean more federal resources for dealing with transportation, housing and other local issues.

Consider also that you are required by law to respond and if you don’t, you will be visited by a census worker, not a good idea as we are striving to minimize contacts between people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Responding to the census is simple. You should have received a letter providing you with a census ID number. Go to the census website at https://my2020census.gov/ and type in the number when prompted. Answer the questions and you’re done.

If you didn’t get a letter from the Census Bureau letter or misplaced it, call 1-301-763-INFO (4636) or 1-800-923-8282 or go to ask.census.gov to get a census ID number.

As we wait for the coronavirus to run its course, most of us have some unanticipated time on our hands. Let’s use a few minutes of that time to do something constructive for our community and our state and respond to the census today.

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