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Montana news focused on the western side of the state. Montana politics, healthcare, wildlands, wildlife and wildfire.

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Sen. Daines vs. protesters; the new national attack ad against Sen. Tester; state GOP chairman pushes to block the mail-ballot election for Ryan Zinke's replacement; opposition to Gianforte as the Republican nominee in the upcoming special election; and former Chief Justice Karla Gray's legacy, this week on "Capitol Talk."

Solar panel installation.
Wayne National Forest (CC-BY-2)

After supporters of the so-called Solar Jobs and Energy Freedom Act rallied in the state Capitol yesterday in support of more solar energy development, legislation to do so stalled in committee today on a tie vote.

House Bill 504 failed to get enough votes to move out of the House Energy Technology and Federal Relations committee.

The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess

State legislative leaders are no longer taking applications for the job of Montana's top political cop. They've now started the process of selecting the next commissioner of political practices.

In a meeting this morning, four Montana House and Senate leaders discussed  how to move forward in replacing current Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl, whose term ended in January.

The confirmation of Montana’s at-large Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke to head the Interior Department could come as soon as next week. Democrat Dan West says he's best prepared to replace Zinke and navigate Washington D.C.'s turbulent waters.

Dan West loves kayaking. The Missoula native loves it so much he used to be a professional kayak instructor. So perhaps it's only natural that he uses the sport in a new campaign video that's circulating on the internet. Decked out in a dry top and paddling in an ice cold Montana river, West declares:

This week our topics from the 2017 Montana Legislature are:  coal and prohibiting state courts from considering foreign laws.  

Guests:  Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, and Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell.


Bill to Promote Indian Country Tourism Advances

Feb 23, 2017

Tourism opportunities can be better promoted in Indian country, said Senator Lea Whitford of Cut Bank.  Her Senate Bill 309 seeks to make sure Native voices are included on the Tourism Advisory Council and there’s money to help promote Indian Country because there is more to see than teepees and powwows.

Whitford said there’s also casinos, campgrounds, trails, fishing, heritage centers, museums, and art galleries.  


Recruiters At UM Say They're Looking For Talent And Ready To Hire
flickr user Neetal Parekh (CC-BY-NC-2)

Recruiters representing over 70 employers from across the region visited the University of Montana this week. They were interviewing students for jobs and internships. According to Steve Arveschoug of Big Sky Economic Development, there’s no shortage of good jobs available right now in the Billings area.

Accusations of voter suppression are already flying ahead of Montana's anticipated special election to fill Ryan Zinke's seat in Congress.
Josh Burnham

Accusations of voter suppression are already flying ahead of Montana's anticipated special election. That would be held after Congressman Ryan Zinke vacates his seat, pending Senate confirmation of his appointment to become secretary of the interior.

Lawmakers rejected a bill aiming to reform how state prisons put people with mental illnesses in solitary confinement.
Flickr user, BohemianDolls (cc-by-2.0)

In a close vote this morning, lawmakers rejected a bill aiming to reform how state prisons put people with mental illnesses in solitary confinement. The bill introduced by Roger Webb, a Billings Republican, would have outlawed the use of solitary confinement for prisoners with mental illness, except in a few situations.

Bison at the Stephens Creek Capture facility north of Yellowstone Park in 2015.
Jim Peaco (PD)

On Monday the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's Michael Wright reported that more than 570 Yellowstone National Park bison have been killed so far this winter. The Park is trying to reduce the size of its bison herd from an estimated 5,500 animals to about 3,000.

The annual slaughter happens as part of compromise between the Park Service and State of Montana, which says bison numbers need to be controlled to prevent the spread of the disease brucellosis to cattle. It's controversial, and there is an alternative.

Joining us now to talk about it is Amy Martin, who spent the last year reporting on bison for her podcast: Threshold.

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