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Birthdate: Aug. 21, 1956
Birth Place: Havre, MT, United States
Residence: Big Sandy, MT
Religion: Church of God
First Elected: 2006
Undergraduate: University of Great Falls
Jon Tester was born in Havre, Mont., and now lives in Big Sandy. He earned a bachelor's in music from the University of Great Falls.
He worked for two years as a high school music teacher before becoming a custom butcher and a member of the local school board. He runs his family's farm, which grows organic wheat, barley, lentils, peas, millet, buckwheat, alfalfa and hay.
Tester was elected to the state Senate in 1999 and to the U.S. Senate in 2006.
He and his wife, Sharla, have two children.
Jon Tester's keystone legislation, the bill that he's largely hinged his first term on, brings together traditional opponents in forest management _ but he found opposition among his fellow Democrats as the bill moved forward.
Participants say that if successful the legislation would remove the deadlock that has prevented the designation of new wilderness in Montana for more than two decades and boost the state's struggling timber industry.
Tester's bill is years in the making and would create new wilderness in parts of Montana while increasing logging requirements and establishing permanent recreation areas. The bill got a boost in 2010 when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said President Barack Obama's administration could support the logging portion of the legislation, though he stopped short of outright support.
The bill's mandate to log 100,000 acres over the next 15 years has emerged as the key sticking point in negotiations with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Tester has made it clear that removing the provision would fracture the Montana coalition of loggers and environmentalists at the heart of the deal.
Tester tested the waters in 2010 when it came to high-profile national legislation. He was active as a member of the Senate Banking Committee that worked on the June 2010 financial industry regulation overhaul bill, co-sponsoring a proposal that would let small community banks pay a smaller assessment than large banks toward the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s insurance fund.
Tester has become an advocate of veterans' issues and pushed for improvements in hospital care. In Montana, he has made visits to veterans centers a staple of his constituency work and helped advance many efforts to improve care for veterans.
Tester voted in 2008 against the financial and auto industry bailouts and supported President Obama's 2009 economic stimulus package. He has been an outspoken critic of greed on Wall Street and has hammered American International Group for its handling of bailout money.
Tester quickly came out against rumors that the Obama administration may try to revive a ban on assault rifles, saying he would join other pro-gun Democrats to block it.
Tester was elected to the Montana Senate in 1999 and quickly ascended in Democratic leadership posts, often carrying important party legislation in floor debates. He became Senate president in 2005 after Democrats took control of the chamber following years of Republican control.
Tester teamed up with popular Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer in 2005 for many of the party's important initiatives, helping usher the governor's plans through the Legislature.
He took the lead on a revamp of the state's formula for funding schools after a court order declared the old system unconstitutional. That plan has been criticized as a temporary solution, and not a real fix to an ongoing problem.
Source: Associated Press
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