Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

House Approves Bill Requesting Payment From Feds For Public Land Sales

Apr 10, 2015
Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R) SD7
Montana Legislature

Today at the Montana Legislature, state Representatives voted to pass a bill that would request that the federal government pay Montana five percent of all public land sales.

Senate Bill 298’s sponsor, Republican Senator Jennifer Fielder says that because the Forest Service split from the Department of the Interior, Montanans haven’t been getting their cut of the land sales because the federal government only monitors Department of Interior sales.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk": The bitter fight in the House over Medicaid expansion, the state budget fights yet to come, the Flathead water compact's chances for passage, and the legacy of former Governor Tim Babcock, who passed away this week.

William Marcus

A bill to extend Medicaid to Montana's working poor won preliminary approval in the Montana House on a 54 to 46 vote. But before it could, supporters of Senate Bill 405 had to fight off another attempt to kill this bill again in committee.

The last surviving bill on Medicaid expansion has been the subject of numerous procedural fights with the most intense action over whether it could come to the House Floor for debate. That finally happened Thursday.

    

Supporters of Medicaid expansion for low-income Montanans are celebrating a major victory tonight, after the House approved the controversial bill.

Medical Marijuana On Friday's Legislative Agenda

Apr 9, 2015
Flickr user Laurie Avocado

Friday at the Montana Legislature, lawmakers will hear about a bill that would change who investigates false medical marijuana claims, and ups the penalties.

One of Montana’s best known and well-respected authors has died. Ivan Doig passed away today at his home in Seattle from multiple myeloma at the age of 75.

Doig was born in White Sulpher Springs in 1939, and his books were set in Montana.

Early Education Funding Fails To Make The Cut In Senate Budget

Apr 9, 2015

The Republican-controlled Senate today gave preliminary approval to the state’s main budget bill. The GOP majority allowed only a few technical amendments and resisted attempts by Democrats to add additional funding or programs to House Bill 2. This includes a Bullock Administration proposal to fund early childhood education.

Cherie Newman

When Aaron Parrett set out to make a list of the literature created in and about Butte, Montana, he discovered something surprising: Contrary to popular belief, Mary McLane was not the first novelist to come out of Butte. The first novel he discovered was published in 1880s by Josephine White Bates.

We’re continuing our series of interviews on the new management plan for the Flathead National Forest. We’ve heard from the Forest Service and the Montana Wilderness Association so far. This time we’re talking to a prominent timber company executive.

Paul McKenzie is the lands and resource manager at F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber in Columbia Falls. I spoke to him in his office.

State Budget On Thursday's Legislative Agenda

Apr 8, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Thursday at the Montana Legislature, the state budget heads to the full Senate.

Senate Committee Hears Personhood Bill That Would Criminalize Abortion

Apr 8, 2015

Today at the Montana legislature, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard the last public testimony for a bill that would ask voters to redefine personhood to include fetuses, which would criminalize abortion.

A House panel is considering whether Montana Developmental Center in Boulder should be closed, after multiple reports of clients being physically or sexually assaulted. MDC treats people with developmental disabilities, who are sent there by court order.  

Bernadette Franks-Ongoy, who heads Disability Rights Montana, says ongoing reports of physical and sexual abuse against clients justify closing the center, and transferring its residents to community-based group homes.

The controversy over the water compact for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes continued this week when the head of the Flathead County Republicans alleged that groups supporting the compact failed to fully disclose their lobbying activities.

Medicaid Expansion Bill Survives Another Day

Apr 8, 2015

Democrats won their fight to bring a Medicaid expansion bill to the House floor for debate.  It came with help from 11 Republicans Representatives.

Montana Capitol
William Marcus

The lone bill barely alive at the Montana Legislature that expand Medicaid coverage to the working poor is now tangled in a procedural fight over the House rules.

It will be an interpretation of those rules that will determine whether the full House gets to debate this bill on the floor.

This fight over Medicaid Expansion began long before the Republican-controlled House Human Services Committee held yesterday’s hearing on Senate Bill 405.

But it came to a head during executive action held after the four and a half hour hearing on this bill.

William Marcus

One of the biggest bills in this year’s Montana Legislature remains in limbo. Wednesday at noon, the House rules committee will meet to decide whether a committee had the right to kill a Medicaid expansion proposal with a “do not pass” recommendation.

Montana Lawmakers To Consider Boxing Regulation

Apr 7, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Wednesday at the Montana legislature, lawmakers hear a bill aimed at getting pro boxing back in Montana.

Former Governor Tim Babcock died Tuesday morning at the age of 95.

Babcock was elected Montana's lieutenant Governor in 1960. He became the state's chief executive when a plane crash killed Governor Don Nutter, who was also Babcock's close friend, two years later.

Babcock would go on to lose a U.S. Senate race and another bid to serve in the Governor's office, but he and his late wife, Betty, remained active in state politics for the rest of their lives.

Swans at Freezeout Lake Wildlife Management Area
Montana FWP

Some state lawmakers want to call a halt to any new purchases of wildlife habitat by the state’s Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. It’s a debate about priorities, but some people say it’s also a case of political payback.

Cheri Trusler

Closing arguments were heard Monday in the condemnation trail for the City of Missoula’s water system.

The city has been trying to buy the privately-owned Mountain Water Company since 2011.

Sen. Ed Buttrey (R) SD13
Montana Legislature

Tuesday brings a crucial test for Medicaid expansion in Montana. Republican Senator Ed Buttrey’s bill to offer the government-funded health coverage to about 70,000 more Montanans faces a hearing before the same committee that killed a similar proposal by Democratic Governor Steve Bullock.

Flickr User Ian Sane CC-BY-2.0

Last week, a citizen’s advisory group to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks started fundraising to produce an education campaign in direct response to controversial "crowd-shooting" incidents last November.

U.S. National Interagency Fire Center

Montana's active wildfire season is just around the corner. Every single federal, state and local wildland firefighter assigned to fire duty is required to carry a fire shelter. They’re thin, silica-impregnated tents laminated with aluminum foil, and are proven lifesavers. Now, the Forest Service is working on making them even better.

William Marcus

The Montana Legislature is taking a spring break through Monday as it prepares for its final four weeks of work. MTPR Capitol Reporter Steve Jess has a look at what lawmakers have done so far.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks released their latest wolf count on Thursday. Fewer wolf deaths were reported in Montana in 2014 than in the previous year, but the population is trending downward.

Eliza Wiley

This week's "Capitol Talk" covers the Senate changes to the state budget, the competing infrastructure bills, the upcoming effort to keep a compromise Medicaid expansion bill alive, the surprise defeat of the bill to allow concealed carry on campus and the narrow defeat of the so-called religious freedom bill.

Senate Committee Restores Some Funding Cut By House

Apr 3, 2015
William Marcus

The Senate Finance and Claims Committee added about $55 million of general fund dollars back into the state budget. That’s according to preliminary figures from the Legislative Fiscal Division.

Not quite half of that amount was to cover cost over-runs in the current biennium.

This year’s cost overruns total about $31 million.

Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Democrats in the Montana House are fighting to keep a Medicaid expansion bill alive. Tuesday morning the bill goes before the same committee that killed a previous Medicaid bill.

Catherine Cain

A state veterinarian says that a strain of bird flu found in a captive falcon in Columbia Falls has the potential to significantly impact poultry farmers in the state. So far, this is the only case of the H5N2 bird flu strain in Montana.

Eric Whitney

We’re continuing our series of interviews with people involved in writing new Flathead Forest plan. One of those people is Amy Robinson, a staffer for the Montana Wilderness Association. Robinson talks about her organization's vision for the Flathead National Forest.

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