Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

The drive across Montana will be a little bit faster if a bill passed Thursday in the Montana House becomes law. The measure, already passed by the Senate, raises the speed limit on rural sections of Interstate highways from 75 to 80 miles an hour, matching the current limit in three neighboring states: Idaho, Wyoming, and South Dakota. 

Chérie Newman

The Flying Whales, a group of Kindergarten students at Sussex Elementary in Missoula, are getting ready for the WildWalk Parade, one of the upcoming Wildlife Film Festival activities. In a classroom filled with maps, children’s artwork, stuffed animals, and live birds, the kids try their costumes on and talk about the WildWalk Parade.

Barrett Hospital

Two hospitals in Montana have earned 5-star ratings in patient satisfaction from Medicare. Those hospitals are Barrett Memorial in Dillon, and Great Falls Clinic Medical Center.

Flickr user biologycorner (CC-BY-NC)

Some technological glitches aren't stopping most of Montana's school districts from administering tests linked to Common Core.

State School Superintendent Denise Juneau estimates about 80 percent of Montana's schools will press ahead with the online tests despite widely reported problems.

Flathead National Forest

The latest in our series of interviews on the new draft management plan for the Flathead National Forest is with Keith Hammer, chair of the Swan View Coalition, and Arlene Montgomery, the program director for Friends of the Wild Swan.

The Flathead National Forest’s scoping period for public comments on its draft management plan runs through May 15th.

Limits On Asset Forfeiture On Thursday's Legislative Agenda

Apr 15, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Thursday, the Montana Senate will hear a bill that would ensure that police can’t take a suspect’s legal assets, like cars or money, until police can prove that the items were part of a crime.

Montana Lawmakers Consider Legalizing Sale Of Raw Milk

Apr 15, 2015

Wednesday at the Montana Legislature, lawmakers heard testimony on a bill that would legalize the direct sale of raw milk from farmers with no more than seven cows or 15 goats or sheep. Those farmers would have to buy a $75 license and pay $22 a month per animal, along with adhering to several safety procedures.

State Budget Going To Conference Committee For More Work

Apr 15, 2015

As expected, the Montana House rejected the Senate's work on the state's main budget bill. That means the bill now goes to a House-Senate Conference committee to work out the differences.

Western Glacier Stonefly
U.S. Geological Service

A lawsuit filed Wednesday by the Center for Biological Diversity could force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make a decision on whether protect an insect only found in Glacier National Park.

Montana produces more AmeriCorps volunteers than any other state. What's more, the federal agency that administers the service organization says more members come from Billings than other cities of its size.

Wednesday afternoon the Montana House narrowly approved the Flathead Reservation Water Compact after more than three hours of debate on the House floor.

Senate Endorses Study Of Public Defender's Office

Apr 14, 2015
William Marcus

Today at the Montana Legislature, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass a bill that would create a two-year study on the Office of the State Public Defender. This year, legislators discussed, and argued about what to do with this office, which is meant to provide lawyers for those who can’t afford their own in criminal cases.

Senate Hears Vocational Arts Funding Bill

Apr 14, 2015
Rep. Donald Jones (R) HD46
Montana Legislature

Tuesday at the Montana Legislature, the Senate Finance and Claims Committee heard a bill to give more funding for vocational arts within state elementary and high schools.

Employer Tax Credits For College Tuition Contributions On Wednesday's Legislative Agenda

Apr 14, 2015

Wednesday at the Montana Legislature, lawmakers hear a bill to give employers a tax break if they help pay for their employees' college tuition.

William Marcus

The proposed Flathead Water Compact will come up for a vote in the Montana House Wednesday, but as MTPR Capitol Reporter Steve Jess reports, opponents are trying to put up another roadblock to prevent its passage.

'Dark Money' Disclosure Bill Advances At State Legislature

Apr 14, 2015
Sen. Duane Ankney (R) SD20
Montana Legislature

A bill to shine more light on the donors to political campaigns continues to advance at the Montana Legislature.

The so-called Dark Money bill was in the House today after previously passing the Senate.

Some Yellowstone Roads To Open This Week

Apr 14, 2015
Snowplows near the Canyon area in Yellowstone National Park
David Restivo, Yellowstone National Park (CC-BY-2.0)

Spring is in the air and the plows have been busy in Yellowstone. Now, roads leading to Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon area are set to open for auto travel this week.

Lawmakers To Consider Limits On Where Sex Offenders Can Live

Apr 13, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Tuesday at the Montana Legislature, lawmakers hear a bill that would restrict where high-risk sex offenders can live and work.

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout
U.S. Forest Service

It's ok to eat the fish downstream of last winter's big oil spill on the Yellowstone River. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has lifted an advisory urging people to use caution when eating fish caught near the break in the Bridger Pipeline near Glendive.

Flickr user Brad Smith (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

The contentious Flathead Reservation water compact appears to be taking the same convoluted path to the House floor as the Medicaid expansion bill did last week.

Cow bison with a newly born calf in Yellowstone National Park
Neal Herbert - Yellowstone National Park (CC-BY-2.0)

Yellowstone National Park might tolerate thousands more bison by 2017, or perhaps hundreds fewer. State and federal wildlife managers are developing a new Yellowstone bison management plan and several options are on the table.

Victor Charlo, Salish poet
Sue Reynolds / Sue Reynolds Photography

Good writing often tells a story about a place, and how the people in a place live and come to understand the land around them. That’s what Victor Charlo, a Bitterroot Salish Elder, taught when he visited a 4th grade writing class at Pablo Elementary School last Thursday. MTPR Flathead Reporter Corin Cates-Carney has the story of young writers being taught to find the right words to describe their home.

On Saturday the Montana House gave final approval to a bill expand Medicaid coverage to Montana's working poor on a 54-to-42 vote.

Flickr, Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ

The Montana State Capitol was bustling with activity Saturday, as literal busloads of people arrived from the Flathead Valley to weigh in on the controversial Flathead Reservation compact that will settle tribal water rights and determine how much water farmers and ranchers of that region will receive in future years.

Legislative Roundup: Medicaid Expansion, State Budget Advance

Apr 12, 2015
From left, House Speaker Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, Rep. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, and Minority Leader Chuck Hunter, D-Helena, debate rules on the House floor April 8.
Michael Wright - UM Community News Service

After wrangling over rules, the last remaining bill to expand Medicaid at the 64th Montana Legislature appears to be headed to the governor’s desk.

William Marcus

The House Rules Committee wrapped up a special meeting Friday afternoon. They were considering a challenge to the Medicaid expansion bill that passed the full House yesterday.

Belgrade Republican Representative Art Wittich was arguing that shouldn’t have happened, because the Medicaid bill was improperly sent out of his committee without enough votes to do so.

MTPR Capitol Reporter Steve Jess explains the rules debate.

Flathead Water Compact On Saturday's Legislative Agenda

Apr 10, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

The Montana Legislature is holding a special weekend hearing Saturday for the hundreds expected to come to speak their mind on the Salish Kootenai water compact. If passed, the compact would outline water rights on and around the Flathead Reservation.

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.

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