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Beauty of the Big Sky, U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree
U.S. Forest Service

A tree from northwest Montana will grace the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington next Christmas. The U.S. Forest Service has been supplying the capitol with trees for decades. Elizabeth Slown, spokesperson for the Northern Region of the Forest Service, says this year, the Kootenai National Forest has the honor.

A bill asking for the end of capital punishment was narrowly voted down in the Montana House today.
William Marcus

Days after hearing testimony from clergy, young conservative lawmakers, and an exonerated death-row inmate from Arizona asking for the end of capital punishment, state lawmakers voted against their request.

The bill, HB-366, introduced by Adam Hertz, a freshman Republican from Missoula, was voted down largely along party lines — Democrats voting in favor of abolishing the death penalty and Republicans tending to vote against.

Doubling The Wine Tax Up For Debate In Montana Senate

Feb 10, 2017
A bill in the Montana Senate would double the wine tax in an effort to boost revenue in the state as it faces a budget shortfall.
Denise Mattox (CC-by-2.0)

A bill in the Montana Senate would double the wine tax in an effort to boost revenue in the state as it faces a budget shortfall. Democratic Senator Lea Whitford of Cut Bank is carrying Senate Bill 191.

Montana Capitol, Helena.
Mike Albans

A group of Republican-led lawmakers has pushed forward an effort to eliminate Montana’s office of Political Practices. The bill introduced by Derek Skees, a Republican from Kalispell, passed out of a judiciary committee of state representatives today, on a party-line vote.

Suicide Prevention Bill Seeks To Educate Health Providers

Feb 10, 2017
Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

A little less than half of people in the nation who commit suicide visit their primary care providers within a month of their death, according to the Montana’s Suicide Mortality Review Team’s 2016 report.

A bill working its way through the Montana Legislature would make it mandatory for health care providers to complete training in order to recognize signs a person is considering suicide, including nonverbal cues.

Sen. Daines shuts down Sen. Warren and votes to confirm Betsy DeVos. Will the special congressional election be a mail-only affair? A death penalty repeal bill narrowly fails at the Montana Legislature. Join MTPR's Sally Mauk and UM Political Science Professor Rob Saldin for analysis of these stories on "Capitol Talk," your weekly legislative analysis program.

Update 2/10 7:00 a.m.: Both lanes of I-90 between St. Regis and Lookout pass have reopened. Standing water on highways across western Montana. Drive carefully!

Update 9:20 p.m.:  The Montana Department of Transportation is reporting that the westbound lanes of Interstate 90 are now open between St. Regis and Lookout pass. The eastbound lane remains closed due to standing water on the road. Heavy rain and melting snow continue to accumulate on the road. Find the latest road closures and conditions from the Montana Department of Transportation.

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Rep. Skees says his bill, HB-357, is an attempt to protect the state’s elections system from voter fraud.
Rebekah Welch

A Republican representative from Kalispell says voters should be required to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. Representative Derek Skees introduced his proposal to change Montana’s law during a House Committee meeting today, while opponents argued the bill would make it harder for some people to vote.

Bill Would Create A Fund For Family And Medical Leave

Feb 9, 2017

Montana lawmakers heard a bill Thursday that would create a fund to help with those in need of family or medical leave from their job. 

Bill Would Give First-time Drug Offenders Option For Rehab Facilities

Feb 9, 2017
Montana Capitol, Helena
Mike Albans

First-time drug offenders in Montana are currently not given the option to enter residential treatment facilities in the state. House Bill 278 would give judges the option to defer these first-time offenders to a live-in treatment facility, or rehab center, rather than giving them probation.

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