Montana News

Courthouse Interview
9:27 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Missoula Couple Among First Same Sex Licensees

Serena Early and Leslie Burgess were at the Missoula County Courthouse before the clerk's office opened this morning.
Credit Eric Whitney

Serena Early and Leslie Burgess spoke with MTPR News Director Eric Whitney this morning as they waited for one of Montana's first same sex marriage licenses.

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Attorney General Will Appeal
7:28 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Gay Marriage Plaintiffs React To Judge's Ruling

These are the four couples who sued to overturn Montana's ban on gay marriage.
Credit Courtesy ACLU of Montana

For certain Montana residents today will be one of those days when they remember where they were when they heard the news. Sue Hawthorne was out shopping with her sister when, as she puts it, her phone started ‘exploding’ with calls and texts from friends. Federal Judge Brian Morris had ruled in a lawsuit in which Hawthorne was a plaintiff. Her marriage to Adel Johnson of Helena, performed in Washington state several months ago, was now legally recognized in Montana:

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Gay Marriage
2:40 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Federal Judge Strikes Down Montana Same Sex Marriage Ban

A federal judge today struck down Montana’s ban on gay marriage. Attorney General Tim Fox says he’ll appeal.

Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls ruled that Montana’s law violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

The law was challenged by four couples represented by the ACLU of Montana.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Montana, in September ruled similar gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada unconstitutional. But conflicting decisions remain in other federal courts, and the U.S. Supreme court has not issued a final word.

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Montana Infrastructure
4:29 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Gov. Proposes $300 Million For Montana's Aging Infrastructure

Credit n-vision photos-cc-by

Much of Montana's roads, bridges and waterways are reaching the end of their useful life. In a new state-specific report card released today, Montana Civil Engineers give that aging infrastructure a mediocre overall grade of C-minus and say it needs attention.

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Endangered Species Act
1:15 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Environmentalists Sue Over Lynx Habitat

Canada lynx.
Credit Keith Williams (CC-BY-2.0)

WildEarth Guardians and three other groups filed a suit over critical lynx habitat Monday. Plaintiffs say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service excluded too much area in the southern Rocky Mountains of New Mexico and Colorado when they designated protected habitat for the Canada lynx.

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Montana Budget
3:47 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Gov. Bullock Releases State Budget Plan

Gov. Steve Bullock outlines his proposed state budget, Mon, Nov. 17, flanked by Budget Director Dan Villa and Lieutenant Governor Angela McLean.
Credit Courtesy photo

Governor Steve Bullock released his two-year budget proposal during a Monday Morning news conference at the state capitol. Highlights include a spending increase of 5.5% this year and close to 3% next year, as well as $300 million in improvements to the state’s roads, sewers, and other infrastructure, and a $300 million surplus to take care of emergencies.

But the proposal that could produce the most contentious debate concerns Medicaid. 

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Competing Agendas
8:12 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Climate Change At The 2015 Montana Legislature

The 2015 Montana legislative session starts January 5.
Credit Eric Whitney

The start of the 2015 Legislative session is still seven weeks away, but a group of Democratic lawmakers, scientists, and activists is already working to frame a possible legislative debate on climate change. 

Among those who spoke at a climate change-focused news conference on Thursday was Dave Chadwick, Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation. He says even without the EPA pressuring the state to cut its carbon emissions by 20 percent in 15 years, slowing or reversing climate change would still be a priority, to save the state’s hunting and fishing industry.

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Affordable Care Act
7:36 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Saturday Event Launches Health Insurance Sign-Ups

Lee Ann Johnson, director of the Missoula Indian Center, welcomes people to the enrollment event at Missoula County Fairgrounds Saturday.
Credit Eric Whitney

Saturday was the start of open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act for 2015. It’s is the second year most Americans will be required to have health insurance or face a tax penalty.

There were at least two events on Saturday in the MTPR listening area to help people shop for coverage, and investigate whether they qualify for a subsidy to help them afford it. One at the Great Falls Public Library, the other at Missoula County’s fairgrounds.

The Missoula Indian Center sponsored the event in Missoula, but it was open to anyone.

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Montana Health
5:17 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Montana Health Insurance Co-op Is Expanding Into Idaho

MHC is one of 24 new co-op health insurance companies that launched last year under the federal Affordable Care Act.

The new Montana health insurance company that opened last year is expanding into Idaho this year, and will start selling coverage there on Saturday.

"We became operational in Idaho because there was a need for greater competition in the state of Idaho," said Karen Early, director of marketing for MHC, the company that operates as Montana Health Co-op on this side of the Bitterroots, and as Mountain Health Co-op in Idaho.

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Fort Peck Bison Relocation
5:15 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Yellowstone Bison Arrive At Fort Peck Reservation

Yellowstone bison shuffle off of a truck after reaching their final destination at the Fort Peck Reservation.
Credit Courtesy of the Defenders of Wildlife

Nearly 2,000 pounds of wild bison lumbered out of a truck and down a ramp yesterday onto a pasture owned by the the Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation as members of the tribe greeted the animals with a song.

Dozens of excited people were there to see workers herd the animals into a 140 acre holding pen. Fort Peck Fish and Game officials said almost 100 bison were unloaded yesterday, with nearly 50 more expected today.

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