Montana News

News from around the state from Montana Public Radio.

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Chérie Newman:  The award-winning author James Lee Burke recently published his 36th book, titled House of the Rising Sun. Like many of his other books, this one was written in Montana, which he dearly loves.

James Lee Burke:   I remember the first day we came into Missoula. It was in July of 1966. We drove through Hellgate Canyon and I told Pearl, I said “I’m going to kick the bucket here. This is it. This is the best place I’ve ever been. I miss it in one day. If I go one day away, I’m ready to come back.

Map of Solenex Lease site in the Badger-Two Medicine near Glacier National Park
Courtesy Montana Wilderness Association

Today, a federal district court allowed an extension in a case over energy development in the Badger-Two Medicine area of Lewis and Clark National Forest.

"Campaign Beat", our weekly political analysis program is back to help you keep up to speed on the 2016 Montana elections.

Current Snow Water Equivalent Basin Percentage of Normal - January 01, 2016
Courtesy USDA NRCS

There’s a lot riding on how much precipitation Montana gets this winter and spring. So far, it’s a mixed bag. December’s snowfall helped shore up mountain snowpack in Montana’s southern basins, but some northern basins remain below normal.

Officials say the number of child abuse and neglect cases in Montana is overwhelming state agencies in charge of handling them. A legislative committee that oversees the Division of Child and Family Services is meeting in Helena on Monday.

Dems Secret Caucus Plans Raise Concerns

Jan 8, 2016
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Montana Democratic legislators are slated to gather for a “caucus retreat” at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort next month. According to an e-mail party leaders sent to Democratic lawmakers on Dec. 26, the purpose of the Feb. 6 retreat is to prepare for 2017 legislative session by establishing the party’s priorities ahead of the 2016 election season.

Billings Clinic is the biggest hospital company in Montana
Courtesy Billings Clinic

Yesterday Billings Clinic announced that it’s purchased a 54 acre piece of land in Bozeman adjacent to Interstate 90.

Billings Clinic is the biggest hospital company in Montana, operating a 304-bed hospital in Billings, and managing 11 small hospitals in Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota. It’s a non-profit organization, but last year it bought Missoula’s Community hospital in a partnership with a for-profit company based in Tennessee.

Fox Says New Licenses Aren't Meant To Comply With Real ID

Jan 7, 2016
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox
Courtesy MT DOJ

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Enhanced security measures included in Montana's new driver's licenses are not meant to comply with federal standards that threaten to create an "Orwellian national ID system," Attorney General Tim Fox said Thursday.

Hardin Jail Population Drops To 0

Jan 7, 2016
A look inside the Hardin detention facility.
Courtesy Two Rivers Authority

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Two Rivers jail in Hardin that had as many as 250 inmates at its peak of operations is now in standby mode after its cells were emptied this week.

Oregon Standoff: Lessons From The Freeman Case

Jan 6, 2016

John Connor was Montana’s assistant attorney general at the time of Freeman standoff in 1996. He was involved in initial attempts to negotiate a plea bargain, and later prosecuted several of the men who eventually surrendered. MTPR's Katie Riordan asked Connor what lessons he thinks were learned from the Freemen case, and what it means for the standoff in Oregon.