Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

Montana Legislature

The Montana House today Tuesday passed a bill requiring fetuses past twenty weeks of gestation to be anesthetized before any surgery. The sponsor denies that the bill is about abortion, but opponents aren’t convinced.

Albert Olszewski, the Kalispell Republican who’s pushing this bill, says surgery on fetuses still in the womb is becoming an accepted practice.

Montana Bill Takes Aim At Animal Fight Spectators

Mar 24, 2015
William Marcus

Wednesday at the Montana Legislature, lawmakers hear a bill that would criminalize the act of watching animal fights. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Representative Tom Richmond, says it aims to give police an extra tool for catching organizers of the events and to stop anyone from encouraging this felony-level crime.

“They are participants in the activities. They’re there to gamble or to watch the blood sport, or whatever you want to call it. But they are there with the purpose of watching an animal fight.”

Complaints Bring Legislative Scrutiny For Shelby Private Prison

Mar 24, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Montana legislators heard a resolution today to study complaints about the state’s one privately operated prison in Shelby. The study could potentially lead to it’s closure.

Former Senator Terry Murphy was part of a group that previously studied all Montana correctional systems, and he says major complaints at the Shelby prison concern food quality, severe under-staffing and medical attention for inmates.

Commercial dog and cat breeders would come under state supervision, if a bill introduced Tuesday in the Montana House becomes law.

Billings Democratic Representative Margie MacDonald says the discovery in 2011 of a Malamute breeding kennel in Jefferson County, where 160 dogs were found in filthy cages with little food or water, inspired her to write a bill requiring commercial pet breeders to be licensed and regulated.

The Federal Aviation Administration today approved expansion of the Powder River Training Complex, a huge new airspace for military bombers to practice. It covers portions of Montana, Wyoming and North and South Dakota.

Montana’s congressional delegation fought the expansion, saying it will disrupt agriculture and interfere with operations at rural airports.

Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

The Environmental Protection Agency now formally proposes adding the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company to the National Superfund List.

That makes the former smelter eligible for additional study and cleanup resources.

Cyanide, fluoride and various metals have been detected in soils, surface ponds and groundwater at the now-closed Columbia Falls smelter. That's why city manager, Susan Nicosia, supports the EPA's proposal to add the site to its priorities list.

The lone surviving bill seeking to expand Medicaid coverage to the working poor will have another hearing tomorrow at the Montana Legislature.

This action comes on the heels of the bill stalling last night in the Senate Public Health Committee.

Coal & Oil Taxes On Tuesday's Legislative Agenda

Mar 23, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Tuesday at the Montana Legislature, one state legislator goes on the defensive to protect Colstrip power plants and the surrounding community. Senator Duane Ankney is from Colstrip and says House Bill 402 is meant to keep the coal-fired plants in business.

Recently, Washington’s state Senate passed a bill to research the effects of Washington utilities closing some coal-powered utilities including the Colstrip Generating Station, which is partially owned by Bellevue-based Puget Sound Energy.

Montana Lawmakers Clash Over State Revenue Estimate

Mar 23, 2015
Montana Legislature

Lawmakers are considering whether to increase the amount of revenue the state of Montana is projected to collect in taxes and fees over the coming three years.

The revenue estimate is an important number for lawmakers to consider as they craft the state budget and consider tax cuts for the coming two years.

The proposed figure is the latest compromise.

The Montana House is considering whether hunters should be allowed to use rifles fitted with sound suppressors, a move that’s favored by hunting organizations but opposed by game wardens.

Suppressors are not the silencers we often see in movies but they do cut down the sound, or “report” from a hunting rifle. Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association says suppressors are allowed in 34 other states because they help protect a hunter’s hearing, in situations where it’s not practical to wear earplugs or earmuffs.