Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

Global energy leaders are meeting at the University of Montana today through Friday for the Asia-Montana Energy Summit.

Leaders in global energy issues from five different countries are converging at the University of Montana Wednesday through Friday for the Asia-Montana Energy Summit. Hosted by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, the summit will highlight trends that are shaping the world’s energy future, and Montana’s role in it. I talked about the summit with the Mansfield Center’s director, Abraham Kim.

Language Is No Barrier For Senior Companions

Apr 28, 2015
Emily Proctor

Frank Havlick and Chuck Gheer get together every Tuesday at Chuck’s place. It’s a small room with a twin bed, a recliner in the corner, and pictures of children hanging on the walls. Here they read scripture, listen to music and chat about life.

Michael Wright - Community News Service

Welcome to the lobby, and the sometimes-confusing world of lobbying….

2015 Session Ends, Major Infrastructure Bill Dies

Apr 28, 2015
MTPR

 

The 2015 Legislative session is over.

Lawmakers clocked out this morning after the House failed in another attempt to approve a statewide infrastructure bill.

Montana House, Senate Disagree On Adjournment

Apr 27, 2015
William Marcus

The House today fell one-vote short of the supermajority needed to give final approval to the last major remaining infrastructure bill before lawmakers.Then the House voted to adjourn for the session.

Courtesy Photo

In America, there’s a big problem with people getting discharged from hospitals, and then having to come back because something went wrong. Medicare, the government health program for people over age 65, sees about 20 percent of its patients being re-admitted within a month of being discharged. And that costs money.

State of Montana

The Montana Senate had been expected to wrap up its business and head home this afternoon. Instead, Senators debated for more than an hour on one of the governor’s most controversial nominees.

In the end, Jonathan Motl became the first Commissioner of political practices to be confirmed by the Montana Senate in nearly a decade. Appointed by Democratic Governor Steve Bullock, Motl has drawn fire from many Republicans who claim he targets conservatives for campaign violations, like Miles City Republican Eric Moore.

Native Languages: From Forbidden To Funded

Apr 24, 2015
Courtesy Nkwusm Salish Language School

April Charlo is happy to hear that state lawmakers passed a bill yesterday supporting Native American language immersion programs in the public schools. Growing up on the Flathead Reservation, Charlo says the first time she had a chance to learn Salish was in the 7th grade.

“And I wanted more." Charlo says. "I couldn’t have more until high school, but then it was only, you know, that 50 minute block a day. To have an immersion program in public school would have just been amazing.”

Spending Bill Delays End of Legislative Session

Apr 24, 2015
Eric Whitney

    

The 2015 state legislative session almost came to a close Friday, but the House hit a roadblock on the negotiated infrastructure bill.

Flikr User Phil's Pixels

The Blackfeet Tribe and Louisiana company Solenex met Thursday in Great Fall to discuss a 30 -year-old land dispute. On the table between them: the Badger-Two Medicine, a mountainous tract of US Forest Service land flanked by Glacier National Park, the Blackfeet reservation and the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Bill Funding Native Language Programs Passes

Apr 23, 2015
Courtesy Photo

A bill making Montana the second state in the nation to provide funds for Native language immersion programs in public schools passed in the legislature today. 

Blackfeet Campaign To Ban Drilling On Badger-Two Medicine

Apr 22, 2015
Gene Sentz

Wednesday, the Blackfeet Nation launched a campaign urging the termination of oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area southeast of Glacier National Park.

Badger-Two Medicine is home to the Blackfeet stories of creation. Chief Earl Old Person says oil drilling should never be allowed to disrupt the land.

Courtesy Photo

As the 2015 Montana Legislature draws to a close, many lawmakers are saying their goodbyes. 

Eric Whitney

The book that author Jon Krakauer released Monday, "Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town," paints a very unflattering picture of Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst.

Krakauer writes that when Pabst was a county prosecutor in 2011, she dismissed the allegations of at least one sexual assault victim, and that Pabst was, “simply wrong” in recounting what that victim said happened to her. The book is sharply critical of prosecutors’ decisions not to prosecute sexual assaults.

Eric Whitney

The following is a statement by Kirsten Pabst, Missoula County Attorney: 

Tuesday, a book was released about Missoula, addressing the very heartbreaking issue and challenges surrounding acquaintance rape, an important topic that affects so many of us. UM President Engstrom said, "We have strong relationships with officials, the business community and groups across our valley, as he said “when our community faces challenges, we work together to find answers.”

Keiko Sagami

As veterans get older, expenses start to add up. Especially nursing home care, when all they really need is some help at home. So now, one Missoula pilot program that does that is expanding to other parts of Montana.

It helps people like Eugene Hertz. He’s an 83-year-old Korean War veteran. He’s got a bad back, and his doctors don’t want him doing very much because of it. That really gets on his nerves, and means that his wife Joann has to do a lot of the housework. 

Sen. Jon Tester (D) Montana
Courtesy photo

Senator Jon Tester wants to reduce the number of student tests required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Montana school superintendent, Denise Juneau, supports the proposal.

University of Montana

This is a message from University of Montana President, Royce Engrstrom:

Dear Colleagues,
This morning, Jon Krakauer’s book “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town” was released. I want to share with you my thoughts about sexual assault and the University of Montana because it is such an important topic that all college campuses – student groups, staff, faculty, and administrators – must address.

Rep. Jeff Essmann (R) HD 54
Courtesy Montana Legislature

A bill to allow residents in some elementary school districts to vote on building and operating new high schools will now face a third and final vote in the House.

Currently the bill affects the elementary districts of Missoula Hellgate, East Helena, and Lockwood near Billings.

State Budget Work Could Begin Wednesday

Apr 20, 2015

The chairs of the House Appropriations Committee and Senate Finance and Claims expect Wednesday is the earliest day the joint conference committee will meet to begin work on hammering out the differences over the state budget.

Courtesy Photo jonkrakauer.com

Tuesday sees the release of Author Jon Krakauer’s new book, “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town. The book chronicles high profile sexual assault allegations involving University of Montana students starting in 2010, and their investigations. 

State of Montana

 The State Administration Committee heard much praise, but also much criticism, of Jonathan Motl, whom Governor Steve Bullock appointed as Commissioner of Political Practices in 2013.

The criticism came mainly from Republicans who gotten into trouble with Motl, including Republican Representative Art Wittich.

“You should not confirm Jon Motl," Wittich told the committee. "He’ll bring further shame to this office and to justice itself. Instead make the governor appoint an objective commissioner, someone with a clear history of unbiased and appropriate conduct."

It's Back To School For Foster Grandparents

Apr 20, 2015
Nicky Ouellet

Montana is getting older. Five years ago, about 15 percent of the state’s residents were age 65 or older. In five more years, it’s estimated that one in five Montanans will be 65 or older, and five years after that, a quarter of all state residents will be senior citizens.

Over the next two weeks we’re taking a look at how older Montanans are staying active and involved, how they’re helping one another out, and how they’re getting help growing old on their terms, staying out of hospitals and institutions.

Senate Committee Endorses Price Increase For Hunting, Fishing Licenses

Apr 17, 2015
U.S. Forest Service Northern Region

Today at the Montana Legislature, the Senate Finance and Claims Committee passed a bill to increase prices on hunting tags. House Bill 140 would increase fishing license prices by a few dollars, and would introduce a base license fee for any hunter of $8 for residents and $10 for nonresidents. Other special nonresident permit prices would also increase.

William Marcus

The Montana House has reversed course, voting late this afternoon to close the Montana Developmental Center over the next two years.  The bill had been defeated yesterday, but was brought up again today with an amendment that gives families of MDC’s clients more input, as well as studying new uses for the Center’s campus in Boulder.

Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park
flickr: GlacierNPS (CC-BY-2)

Entrance to Glacier National Park, and all national parks, is free this weekend in honor of National Park Week.

The free weekend comes soon after after the Park Service launched it’s “Find Your Park” marketing campaign, to celebrate the Park Service’s centennial, in 2016.

Eric Whitney

Officials in some of Montana's most rural and timber dependent counties are relieved Congress has approved Secure Rural Schools funding to help balance their local budgets.

A Boeing worker operates a machine at the company's Helena, MT plant
Courtesy Photo

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing is expanding its operations in Helena, as it prepares to supply parts for a new version of the 787.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk": The Flathead water compact and "dark money" disclosure bills are on their way to the Governor's desk. Work remains on the state budget, the pay plan, and infrastructure funding bill. Will the legislature adjourn early? Sally, Chuck, and Mike bring you up to speed on this week at the legislature.

The large fire at A1 Salvage yard near Somers is out, according to Somers-Lakeside Fire Department Assistant Chief Jeremy Hayes.

“We don’t have a total yet of how many cars were in the fire,” Hayes said, “but no structures were involved.”

The source of the fire is under investigation. 

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