Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

State Income Tax Cut Advances To Full House

Mar 10, 2015
Montana Legislature

Today at the Montana Legislature, the House tax committee sent a tax-cut bill to the full House.

Duane Ankney of Colstrip is carrying Senate Bill 200, which would essentially cut one tenth of a percent off state income taxes, with lower-income Montanans getting a slightly bigger break.

Gun rights advocates are declaring victory over what they call the latest federal attempt at gun control.

A federal proposal to ban the general public's access to a specific kind of rifle ammunition is now, at least temporarily, off the table.

The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, or ATF, is backing-down from a plan that would have banned ammunition the agency says is particularly dangerous to police.

Insure Montana Program Seeks State Funds To Continue Operation

Mar 10, 2015
William Marcus

A made-in Montana health insurance program aimed at helping small businesses cover their employees is seeking money from the general fund to continue operation.

Some members of the Senate Finance Committee question the expenditure since these workers could also get insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Insure Montana was created before the ACA became law. The intent was to help small businesses in Montana, initially those with nine or fewer employees, provide health insurance for their workers.

Montana is one of the last states where it’s legal to send a text message while driving, but that could change if the legislature approves a bill debated Tuesday in the state House.  

House Blocks Attempts To Revive Bullock's Medicaid Expansion Bill

Mar 10, 2015
Michael Wright - Community News Service

The Republican-controlled House officially killed the governor's Medicaid expansion proposal. That's because House Democrats failed to convince the Republican controlled chamber to reject the "do not pass" recommendation from the House Human Services Committee on the bill. That action came Friday night immediately after a nearly six-and-a-half hour-long hearing.

What happens when the price of oil tanks and suddenly you're faced with a whole lot less money to deal with your town's explosive growth?

If you're 52-year-old Rick Norby, you lose a lot of sleep.

"I haven't slept since I became mayor," he says. "I really ain't kidding you."

When Norby became mayor of Sidney, Mont., oil prices were about $100 a barrel. A year later, they've fallen to roughly half that. Yet oil production has continued to churn right along.

Guns On Campus On Tuesday's Legislative Agenda

Mar 9, 2015
William Marcus

Tuesday brings round two for a bill at the Montana Legislature to allow guns on college campuses. Republican Senator Cary Smith of Billings is carrying Senate Bill 143, which would prohibit the Board of Regents from regulating gun possession.

“Well the main argument seems to be that they don’t think that college students are smart enough or bright enough or careful enough to have weapons and I just don’t agree with that.”

Democratic Senator Dick Barrett of Missoula, says it's not a question of if students can have guns, but who makes rules on campus.

'Dark Money' Disclosure Bill Survives Another Day

Mar 9, 2015
Montana Legislature

By a slim margin a Republican from Great Falls was able to get a campaign reform measure aimed at shining the light on so-called “dark money” sent to the House Business and Labor Committee for a hearing.

Representative Steve Fitzpatrick was worried it would not get a fair hearing in the House State Administration Committee.

"I think we all know why we’re doing this. It’s to avoid adverse committee reports and give the bill a fair hearing. Let’s give this bill a fair hearing. It will get that in Business and Labor," Fitzpatrick said.

Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

Columbia Falls may know by autumn whether the now-closed aluminum smelter there will become a Superfund site.

Last Tuesday the owners of the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company announced the smelter is permanently closing.

The next day the Environmental Protection Agency notified Governor Steve Bullock it proposes to add the plant to its priority list of industrial sites that should be cleaned.

Democrats Cry Foul Over Medicaid Expansion Vote

Mar 9, 2015
Steve Jess

Governor Bullock’s Medicaid expansion plan is apparently dead for this legislative session. Republicans on the House Human Services Committee voted to give it a “do not pass” recommendation, an unusual move that make resurrecting the bill very unlikely, and has drawn harsh criticism from Democrats.

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