Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

'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.

    

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.

F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber in Columbia Falls, MT
Eric Whitney

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.

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