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Kennedy's Legacy In Billings

Senator Edward Kennedy, considered one of the most influential lawmakers in history, passed away Tuesday night at the age of 77 after a year-long battle with brain cancer.
/ Source: KULR-TV

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      BILLINGS - Senator Edward Kennedy, considered one of the most influential lawmakers in history, passed away Tuesday night at the age of 77 after a year-long battle with brain cancer. Kennedy authored more than 2,500 bills throughout his career in the United States Senate. Of those bills, several hundred have become law, many of which have influenced the quality of life here at home. In his 47 years as a U.S. Senator, Ted Kennedy was a big supporter in crafting legislation to better the fields of civil rights, welfare and education. In 1970, at the height of the Vietnam War, Kennedy was the key sponsor on the statute that lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. His reasoning being that those who were old enough to fight for their country are old enough to vote. "I wouldn't have been able to vote in the last election if it wasn't for Ted Kennedy and I felt my vote actually made a difference this past year and I got to take part in something that was a huge part of American history," said Andy Babb, youth pastor at Faith Chapel. Promoting gender equity, he sponsored Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, which demanded equal funding for men's and women's athletics on college campuses. MSU-Billings has about 150 women athletes participating in nine sports, "Title IX has had a huge impact on all universities across the country and at MSU-B in particular it makes for more opportunities for women," said Krista Montague, MSU-B Associate Athletic Director. "It's not about taking opportunities away from men it's about giving women the same opportunity and then some." In one of his first big moves as a new senator, Kennedy supported the Economic Opportunity act of 1964 which created Head Start; a program that prepares low-income 3 and 4 year olds for school. Here at home Kathy Kelker, executive director of Head Start, said they have 360 kids enrolled this year. "If we didn't have the Head Start program in this community and in the state of Montana, there is no other free option available to low-income families," said Kelker. "Kennedy was very good at crafting a deal with both parties and making it work and that's made a difference in the lives of children."