Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

Senator Daines' office

In a speech on the Senate floor last week, Montana Senator Steve Daines lambasted President Obama for what he says are huge increases in the price of health insurance in Montana, but he didn't get the facts exactly right.

Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2.0)

Congressman Ryan Zinke says federal forests don't have a fire problem as much as they have a land management problem.

Zinke, Montana's lone Representative in the U.S. House, introduced a forest management reform bill this week.

Montana’s insurance commissioner says she’s not surprised that health insurance companies are asking for rate increases next year of more than 20 to 30 percent. But, she says, those are just requests, and it’ll be at least a couple of months before the actual rates are known.

Rep. Ryan Zinke. File photo.
Eric Whitney

Congressman Ryan Zinke has introduced a forest management reform bill that he says would prevent unnecessary litigation, improve forest health and help prevent wildfires.

At least one Montana environmental organization says it would instead be a waste of federal tax dollars.

Glacier National Park officials fielded questions about the condition of the Going-to-the-Sun Road Wednesday night at a community meeting in Columbia Falls.

Superintendent Jeff Mow opened the evening with a joke about an apparent sign that must be on his back, to ask when the Going-to-the-Sun Road will open for the season.

One of the authors of a new plan to save the threatened bull Trout in Montana says that’s not an easy task, nor is measuring what it will take to get the fish off of the endangered species list.

"Some folks think it’s a simple, you cross the finish line and you’re there. That’s never quite the way it is."

Flickr user nataliej (CC-BY-NC)

The first part of June brought badly-needed rain to Montana, but it's barely making up for a particularly dry month of May.

Montana Highway Patrol motto on the back of a cruiser
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2)

A new strike force will target organized crime that law enforcement  says continues to plague the Bakken oil patch.

According to Montana U.S. Attorney, Mike Cotter, those offenses range from drug and weapon trafficking to environmental and white-collar crimes.

Montana Students Compete In Energy Saving Competition

Jun 3, 2015
Missoula Sentinel’s Imagine Tomorrow teams pose at the Cougar statue on the campus of Washington State University where the competition was held the last weekend in May.
Denise Dowling

Some of the brightest young minds in the Northwest gathered in Pullman, Washington last weekend for a competition called Imagine Tomorrow.

Four hundred and twenty nine high school students from Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington are challenged to reduce the use of fossil fuels and promote clean, renewable energy.

Evening Newscast 06-02-15

Jun 2, 2015
MTPR Evening Newscast
Josh Burnham

On tonight's evening newscast: Northwestern Energy predicts electricity bills for its residential customers will decrease by $3.10 per month starting in July.

The city of Missoula has been awarded a $400,000 redevelopment grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Both of Montana’s U.S. Senators today voted in favor of reviving several anti-terrorism government surveillance programs, two days after many expired with the Patriot act of 2001.

A 62-year-old Australian is the Second Yellowstone National Park Visitor to be injured by a Bison This Year.

Another Tourist Injured By Yellowstone Bison

Jun 2, 2015
Bull bison in Yellowstone National Park
YellowstoneNPS-flickr (CC-BY-2.0)

A 62-year-old Australian is the second Yellowstone National Park visitor to be injured by a bison this year.

Montana Sen. Steve Daines signs the USA Freedom Act on behalf of the Senate
Courtesy photo

Both of Montana’s U.S. Senators today voted in favor of reviving several anti-terrorism government surveillance programs, two days after many expired with the Patriot act of 2001.

The remains of six veterans whose unclaimed remains were found at a Great Falls funeral home will be interred later this week.

They'll be laid to rest Friday at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery at Fort Harrison in Helena.

Rainbow Dam
Dan Boyce

Northwestern Energy predicts electricity bills for its residential customers will decrease by $3.10 per month starting in July.

Northwestern spokesman Butch Larcombe says a couple of different factors are at play.

Bull trout in British Columbia’s Wigwam River drainage, the headwaters of the Kootenai River.
Joel Sartore National Geographic & Wade Fredenberg USFWS (CC-BY-2.0)

A Montana environmental group working on recovery of the threatened bull trout is critical of a new federal plan to save the fish.

"I guess I just don’t see this as being a holistic plan," says Arlene Montgomery.

William Neuheisel

Flathead Lake is a good two feet below full pool following this particularly dry spring in northwest Montana. Northwestern Energy, which manages Kerr Dam, has notified tribal and federal agencies that water levels are low which could affect outflows this summer. Kerr produces power, regulates the lake's water levels and several reservoirs.

Monday at the Montana Capitol the Legislature’s Water Policy Interim Committee raised questions about new federal clean water rules intended to give the Environmental Protection Agency a say in regulating many streams and ditches that are now the domain of state and local regulators. Montana lawmakers from both parties say they’re troubled by the new rules.

Marianne Wiest - Courtesy photo

Bozeman technology entrepreneur Greg Gianforte is asking Montanans who live out of state to come home, and to bring their high paying jobs with them.

He launched what he’s calling his “Bring our Families Back tour,” Monday visiting economic development agencies in northwest Montana to promote telecommuting as a way to drive up Montana’s average income and improve the economy.

Poplar pipeline crack
Courtesy Bridger Pipeline

Last week we reported that state wildlife biologists have not found any evidence of damage to fish species in the Yellowstone River downstream of the oil spill in January near Glendive. But Ryan Moehring, a spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service says that that doesn’t mean scientists are finished looking.

Two Medicaid Expansion Opponents Named To State Oversight Committee

May 29, 2015

Governor Steve Bullock and Legislative leaders named their picks for the 9-member panel that will oversee the roll-out of Medicaid coverage for Montana’s working poor. The oversight committee includes two opponents of Medicaid Expansion.

Snowmobiles ride past bison in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park (CC-BY-2.0)

A national conservation group and a motorized access group describe a proposed winter use management tool for Yellowstone National Park as a step in the right direction.

Sen. Tester Talks Infrastructure In Eastern Montana

May 28, 2015
Sen. Jon Tester (D) Montana
Courtesy photo

Senator Jon Tester met with local officials in Sidney Thursday to talk about the Bakken-area boom town’s strained roads, water and sewer systems.

Tester has made numerous trips to and held field hearings in Bakken-impacted communities. He’s wanted a first-hand look at how these communities are coping with what was rapid growth. The most recent field hearing was last fall.

 When Seaman decided to dedicate his life to farming, he set out looking for a place with a ripe ear of corn and tomato grown out doors, hunting, fishing and good people. He says he found that in Paradise, Montana.
Corin Cates-Carney

Two hundred fifteen certified organic producers in Montana are cashing in on the growing demand for organic products. Organic farm sales in the United States grew 82 percent in the past five years, according to the Organic Trade Association.

But the growing demand doesn’t guarantee small organic farms will be, or stay, profitable.

Monica Lindeen
Courtesy Monica Lindeen

State auditor Monica Lindeen hit the campaign trail this week, announcing her bid to become Montana's next secretary of state. Fellow Democrat Linda McCulloch currently holds that position and was re-elected back in 2012.

Wednesday at the state capitol Girl Scouts from across Montana gathered to honor some of their own.

A new report released by a broad array of Montana conservation, timber and recreation groups details the economic and conservation benefits of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Corin Cates-Carney

Public health officials want more people to take the risk of concussions youth sports more seriously.

On Tuesday night, Kalispell Regional Healthcare’s Save the Brain Project tried to get the word out at Somers Middle School.

Fewer than 10 people showed up.

A revised federal water pollution rule issued today is earning praise from Montana conservationists and condemnation from the agriculture and building sectors.

Chuck Johson with Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
William Marcus

As you might have heard, the Lee newspaper chain, which publishes most of Montana’s larger papers, is closing its state bureau in Helena. Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison, the two veteran reporters who staff the bureau, are leaving the company.  The news stunned many Montanans who follow politics. Johnson and Dennison have been honored with blog posts on the internet and speeches on the floor of the U. S. Senate.

Recently I sat down with Chuck Johnson in his Helena office to talk about his 43 years covering the state of Montana, starting with how he found out it was coming to an end.

Fewer state and federal dollars are filling Montana school district coffers, so school officials are turning to local voters for help.

Bob Vogel of the Montana School Boards Association says bonding requests are becoming more common.

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