Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

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Among the dozens of amendments that Democrats sponsored to add spending to the $10 billion state budget, was one to enact the Governor’s $37 million pre-school plan.

The Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee stripped it out of the budget bill over a week ago, but the Democratic minority tried to convince the whole House to put it back in.

Missoula Democrat Nancy Wilson says as the world gets more complicated, kids need to start learning earlier.

Budget Hearings Continue Thursday At The Montana Legislature

Mar 18, 2015
William Marcus

Thursday, the Montana House of Representatives continue hearings for the statewide budget. It’s unlikely to change, even though it faces more than 100 Democratic amendments, because of strong Republican support of the current bill.

Michael Wright - Community News Service

The Montana House set aside its usual schedule Wednesday for a marathon floor session devoted to the state budget.

Democrats brought up 40 amendments to increase funding for a wide range of state departments, restoring money that the House Appropriations Committee cut from the governor’s budget proposal. The Republican majority rejected most of them on party-line votes.

One amendment that came close to passing was Butte Democrat Ryan Lynch’s proposal to restore $700,000 cut from the Governor’s office, including $330,000 for the executive airplane.

The state Revenue Department has intercepted 529 fraudulent returns totaling almost $583,000 since tax season opened January 20.

Department spokeswoman, Molly Peterson, says most of the phony returns are the result of identity theft.

"For example, when a large corporation has its credit card information stolen from all of its customers, tax fraudsters can take that information and use it to file fraudulent tax returns."

Peterson says it's tough to find and prosecute tax return scammers because they're so good at covering their tracks.

Cheri Trusler

Attorneys presented their opening arguments today in the city of Missoula’s lawsuit to force the sale of its water utility from current owners, Mountain Water Company and the Carlyle Group. The city filed the suit nearly a year ago, claiming it's in the best interest of Missoulians for the city to operate it instead of a private company.

Montana Republicans Divided Over Open Primaries

Mar 18, 2015
Michael Wright - UM Community News Service

Rep. Steve Fitzpatrick, the tall, bespectacled Republican from Great Falls, stood up on the House floor in late February and explained his bill that would allow local political party officers to be appointed by the state party instead of elected in primary elections.

But the bill was about something bigger, Montana’s century-old open primary law.

“It’s really a fundamental question with this bill,” Fitzpatrick said. “Do you believe in open primaries or do you believe in closed primaries?”

shannonpatrick17 (CC-BY-2.0)

Montana Lawmakers are considering a resolution asking Congress and the President to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which President Obama has already vetoed once. Malta Republican Representative Mike Lang told the Senate Energy Committee the pipeline promises benefits for the state and the nation as a whole.

"Pipelines are the safest, most reliable, economical, and environmentally favorable way to transport oil and other petroleum products. Presently, a lot of people don’t know but in Montana, 88 percent of the oil that’s in our refineries comes from Canada, right now, today."

State Budget Hearings Begin Wednesday At The Montana Legislature

Mar 17, 2015
William Marcus

Wednesday, the debate at the Montana Legislature begins over the state-wide budget in House Bill 2. The bill gained only Republican support out of committee because it was more than $100 million less than the governor asked for.

Josh Burnham

The city of Missoula’s attempt to seize ownership of its water from its current owner will begin in district court tomorrow. The city is suing The Carlyle Group, a global private firm, for ownership of Mountain Water Company.

Gathered in front of the county courthouse Tuesday afternoon, nearly 70 Missoulians sang, spoke and chanted in support of the city's effort.

City Councilman Jason Wiener was quite clear about where he stood on the issue.

Another Medicaid Expansion Plan Introduced At The Montana Legislature

Mar 17, 2015
Sen. Ed Buttrey (R) SD13
Montana Legislature

The latest proposal to expand health insurance coverage for the working poor is scheduled for a legislative hearing Friday.

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