Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

The remains of six Montana veterans will go to their final resting place next month, in the state veterans cemetery at Fort Harrison. Steve Jess reports that it’s part of a nationwide effort to find the unclaimed ashes of service members, and give them the burial they deserve.

The federal government's point man on grizzly bears says the Yellowstone ecosystem's grizzly population should be removed from the endangered species list.

Chris Servheen says the most accurate population estimate shows between 1,000 and 1,200 grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem.

Corin Cates-Carney

The 2015 State Music Festivals were held last weekend in Billings and Missoula. This event draws young musicians from all over the state to showcase their work in front of a panel of judges. The annual festival also forces some high school students to decide between music and busy spring sports seasons. 

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

On the final "Capitol Talk" of the 2015 session, Sally, Chuck, and Mike talk about the death of the infrastructure bill, the session's winners and losers, and how the outcome might affect the 2016 election.

Cheri Trusler

A new audit shows Missoula is doing a better job of responding to reports of sexual assault. That same audit also says there's room for improvement.

'Senior Companions' Give And Get, More Needed

May 1, 2015
Cali Beeson

Judy Allan and Alice McGraw are the poster kids for the Missoula Aging Services Senior Companion program. Their photo made a brochure, and when you meet them, you understand a bit better what this program is about.

"I can tell how wonderful it is being old and having a friend like Judy to do things with," says McGraw. "We do a lot of talking and visiting. She make me feel like my family is here."

The Montana Republican Party claims a non-profit group from Billings broke election laws during the 2014 campaign season.

The complaint filed with the Commissioner of Political Practices charges that the Montana League of Rural Voters used “dark money” to influence the 2014 election. 

Montana health care providers are paying close attention to a second case of measles that was confirmed this week in Spokane.

Workers at Smartlam's Columbia Falls plant work on cross-laminated timber or CLT.
Corin Cates-Carney

A young company in Columbia Falls is finding success in developing new construction material, and they’ve just received a federal grant to help push that success to the next stage.

Steve Jess, MTPR

    

Yesterday Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat, signed a Medicaid expansion bill into law that was sponsored by a Republican senator, Ed Buttrey. Buttrey has long been opposed to Medicaid expansion as called for in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. So how did the businessman from Great Falls come to sponsor a Medicaid expansion bill? I asked him about that immediately after yesterday’s bill signing ceremony at the capitol.

Eric Whitney

Montana's U.S. Senators want Secure Rural Schools payments distributed in short order, now that President Obama has reauthorized the act. S.R.S  funds compensate rural counties with federal land that have experienced declining timber production.   

Powdered alcohol, just add water.
Courtesy Palcohol

A new alcohol product that’s not even on store shelves yet has already been banned in at least six states. Three states have cleared the way for powdered alcohol. Montana’s in the undecided column.

Gov. Bullock signs the Medicaid expansion plan into law on April 29 at the captiol. The bill's sponsor Sen. Ed Buttrey, and supporter Stephanie Wallace look on.
Steve Jess

Backers of Medicaid expansion celebrated in Helena today as Governor Bullock signed the bill extending the health coverage to an estimated 45,000 more Montanans.

Rachelle Meidinger holds the world bench press record for women age 20-25
Corin Cates Carney

A student at Salish Kootenai College is a world record holder in weightlifting. She’s a powerful woman, but for a time felt so weak she didn’t want to leave her room.

Global energy leaders are meeting at the University of Montana today through Friday for the Asia-Montana Energy Summit.

Leaders in global energy issues from five different countries are converging at the University of Montana Wednesday through Friday for the Asia-Montana Energy Summit. Hosted by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, the summit will highlight trends that are shaping the world’s energy future, and Montana’s role in it. I talked about the summit with the Mansfield Center’s director, Abraham Kim.

Language Is No Barrier For Senior Companions

Apr 28, 2015
Emily Proctor

Frank Havlick and Chuck Gheer get together every Tuesday at Chuck’s place. It’s a small room with a twin bed, a recliner in the corner, and pictures of children hanging on the walls. Here they read scripture, listen to music and chat about life.

Michael Wright - Community News Service

Welcome to the lobby, and the sometimes-confusing world of lobbying….

2015 Session Ends, Major Infrastructure Bill Dies

Apr 28, 2015
MTPR

 

The 2015 Legislative session is over.

Lawmakers clocked out this morning after the House failed in another attempt to approve a statewide infrastructure bill.

Montana House, Senate Disagree On Adjournment

Apr 27, 2015
William Marcus

The House today fell one-vote short of the supermajority needed to give final approval to the last major remaining infrastructure bill before lawmakers.Then the House voted to adjourn for the session.

Courtesy Photo

In America, there’s a big problem with people getting discharged from hospitals, and then having to come back because something went wrong. Medicare, the government health program for people over age 65, sees about 20 percent of its patients being re-admitted within a month of being discharged. And that costs money.

State of Montana

The Montana Senate had been expected to wrap up its business and head home this afternoon. Instead, Senators debated for more than an hour on one of the governor’s most controversial nominees.

In the end, Jonathan Motl became the first Commissioner of political practices to be confirmed by the Montana Senate in nearly a decade. Appointed by Democratic Governor Steve Bullock, Motl has drawn fire from many Republicans who claim he targets conservatives for campaign violations, like Miles City Republican Eric Moore.

Courtesy Nkwusm Salish Language School

April Charlo is happy to hear that state lawmakers passed a bill yesterday supporting Native American language immersion programs in the public schools. Growing up on the Flathead Reservation, Charlo says the first time she had a chance to learn Salish was in the 7th grade.

“And I wanted more." Charlo says. "I couldn’t have more until high school, but then it was only, you know, that 50 minute block a day. To have an immersion program in public school would have just been amazing.”

Spending Bill Delays End of Legislative Session

Apr 24, 2015
Eric Whitney

    

The 2015 state legislative session almost came to a close Friday, but the House hit a roadblock on the negotiated infrastructure bill.

Flikr User Phil's Pixels

The Blackfeet Tribe and Louisiana company Solenex met Thursday in Great Fall to discuss a 30 -year-old land dispute. On the table between them: the Badger-Two Medicine, a mountainous tract of US Forest Service land flanked by Glacier National Park, the Blackfeet reservation and the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Courtesy Photo

A bill making Montana the second state in the nation to provide funds for Native language immersion programs in public schools passed in the legislature today. 

Blackfeet Campaign To Ban Drilling On Badger-Two Medicine

Apr 22, 2015
Gene Sentz

Wednesday, the Blackfeet Nation launched a campaign urging the termination of oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area southeast of Glacier National Park.

Badger-Two Medicine is home to the Blackfeet stories of creation. Chief Earl Old Person says oil drilling should never be allowed to disrupt the land.

Courtesy Photo

As the 2015 Montana Legislature draws to a close, many lawmakers are saying their goodbyes. 

Eric Whitney

The book that author Jon Krakauer released Monday, "Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town," paints a very unflattering picture of Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst.

Krakauer writes that when Pabst was a county prosecutor in 2011, she dismissed the allegations of at least one sexual assault victim, and that Pabst was, “simply wrong” in recounting what that victim said happened to her. The book is sharply critical of prosecutors’ decisions not to prosecute sexual assaults.

Eric Whitney

The following is a statement by Kirsten Pabst, Missoula County Attorney: 

Tuesday, a book was released about Missoula, addressing the very heartbreaking issue and challenges surrounding acquaintance rape, an important topic that affects so many of us. UM President Engstrom said, "We have strong relationships with officials, the business community and groups across our valley, as he said “when our community faces challenges, we work together to find answers.”

Keiko Sagami

As veterans get older, expenses start to add up. Especially nursing home care, when all they really need is some help at home. So now, one Missoula pilot program that does that is expanding to other parts of Montana.

It helps people like Eugene Hertz. He’s an 83-year-old Korean War veteran. He’s got a bad back, and his doctors don’t want him doing very much because of it. That really gets on his nerves, and means that his wife Joann has to do a lot of the housework. 

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