MTPR

Corin Cates-Carney

Capitol Reporter

Corin Cates-Carney is the Capitol Bureau reporter for MTPR,  Corin was formerly MTPR's Flathead area reporter.

Corin has worked for NPR, and is a UM Journalism School Graduate.

Contact Corin Cates-Carney:
Email: corin.cates-carney@mtpr.org
Mobile: 253-495-5193
Capitol Office:  406-444-9399

Ways to Connect

More than $97 million in state budget reductions are scheduled to kick in August 15, and, across the state,, school districts are preparing to adapt to their share of the cut.

Funding for public education in Montana will decrease by about $19 million over the next two years as declines in state revenues mean across-the-board budget reductions to state agencies.

One of the five helicopters DNRC has stationed around the state to fight wildfires.
Corin Cates-Carney

A few miles north of Lincoln, wildfires are burning more than 9,000 acres along steep slopes full of thick brush and snags.

Matt Conklin is a Forest Service incident commander. He says these fires are among the few that escaped initial attacks to put them out.

Verde Creek night firing operation on the Sunrise fire.
Alan McGuire-Dale/Inciweb

8/12   9 p.m.

Trout Creek Road from Magone Ranch (near Pellet Mill) southwest through the fire area is in Stage 3 evacuation, meaning residents need to leave their homes, as of 7 a.m. Saturday. Quartz Creek, Cougar Gulch, and Verde Creek are also in Stage 3 evacuation. 

County election officials criticized Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton Thursday morning for his repeated allegations of voter fraud, and for poor communication with them since taking office.
Corin Cates-Carney

County election officials criticized Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton Thursday morning for his repeated allegations of voter fraud, and for poor communication with them since taking office. County officials aired their grievances during a speech by Stapleton at a training session at the Montana Clerk and Recorder Convention in Fairmont.

The Secretary of State and county election officials have butted heads ever since Stapleton took office.

Overview of tourist spending in Montana.
University of Montana Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research

Montana’s budget to entice tourists to the state is about to take a multimillion dollar hit. Next week, budget reductions triggered by lower than expected state revenue will make Montana less competitive, officials say.

Last year, tourists spent about $3.5 billion in Montana, according to the University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation.

Logan Pass visitor's center on a busy summer day.
Tom Westbrook (CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0)

For the first time, more than one million people entered Glacier National Park in a single month. Park officials made the announcement Monday.

The crowds are causing park officials to set time limits on some parking spaces, including up at Logan Pass. Next week about 60 parking spaces at the pass will have a one hour limit, aiming to move along the traffic congestion in the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor.

For a complete list of fire restrictions now in effect across Montana, visit our website https://firerestrictions.us/mt/
firerestrictions.us/mt/

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are going into effect Saturday for areas of southwestern  Montana.

The new fire restrictions will begin at midnight tonight in Madison, Beaverhead, Deer Lodge, Silver Bow Counties. The restrictions will also be set for  Powell County south of I-90 and Highway 12, and Granite County south of I-90 and east of the Lolo National Forest boundary.

Montana is spending over a million dollars a day fighting wildfires. These are Goat Creek and Sliderock fires, July 23, 2017.
Inciweb

The money set aside to fight wildfires in Montana is rapidly dwindling as portions of the state are in extreme drought conditions. But John Tubbs, Director of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, says there’s more money available to keep up the firefighting efforts, in other pockets of state government.

“We don’t run out,” Tubbs says.

Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Montana’s Office of Public Instruction is unsure if its new draft plan to raise student achievement will comply with federal law.

State education leaders are required to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Education in September, as part of the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, which is the federal replacement for No Child Left Behind. 

Inciweb

As of 8 p.m. Friday, July 21, evacuations have been ordered for residents in the entire area north of Highway 200 from the Petroleum County Line and West of Edwards Road, due to the threat from the Lodgepole Complex fires. 

The evacuation area includes: Big Bart Coulee, Haley Coulee, Benzien School Area, Benzien Road all the way to Steve Forks Road, and Battle Coulee Area.

The Red Cross has set up an evacuation shelter at the VFW Hall in Jordan. 

Elsie Arntzen, Montana's Superintendent of Public Instruction,  says the coming cuts could make work very challenging at schools moving forward.
PD

Montana’s K-through-12 schools could face millions of dollars in cuts next month if state revenues don’t improve. The state Office of Public Instruction warned education groups and teachers’ unions about the possible hit to the agency’s budget during a meeting Thursday afternoon.

Today's bill signing ceremony at the capitol
Corin Cates-Carney

Governor Steve Bullock formally signed a slate of bills today aiming to address the state’s problem of overcrowded prisons.

Dr. Shawna Yates is Medical Director of the Southwest Montana Community Health Center
Corin Cates-Carney

As the nation faces an epidemic of opioid drug abuse after a decade of aggressively prescribing narcotics , Montana doctors are becoming more cautious about giving painkillers to chronic pain patients.

It’s changing some patients ability to get treatment and what is considered compassionate care for chronic pain.

Gov. Steve Bullock in his office in Helena, MT.
Corin Cates-Carney

As Governor Steve Bullock begins his final term, the Democrat is starting to raise money with ambitions of stepping onto the national political stage. 

Corin Cates-Carney

Doctors in Montana are cutting down on the amount of painkillers they’re prescribing in response to the nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse, and that’s having some unintended consequences.

Jeff Mangan is Montana's new commissioner of political practices.
Corin Cates-Carney

The chair of Montana’s utility regulators violated state ethics during the 2016 election, according to a decision released today by Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices.

Dancers at the Arlee  Esyapqeyni in June
Eric Whitney

Funding for a Native American language preservation program could get cut next month if revenues don’t increase as the state fiscal year comes to an end. 

The State-Tribal Relations Interim Committee was briefed by legislative staff Thursday that budget cuts will be triggered in mid-August.

Amy Carlson, a Legislative Fiscal Analyst, says state revenues have continued falling below projections since lawmakers passed the state budget in April.

A Forest Service helicopter near Missoula, MT.
Lane Lamoreaux (PD)

The State of Montana’s fleet of firefighting helicopters remains unable to to fight some fires on federal land, and Wednesday a state legislative council asked for action. It’s been a years-long struggle.

Montana Law Enforcement Academy Administrator Glen stinar talks about the coursework for new cops, during a tour of the acadmemy campus in Helena, MT July 11, 2017.
Corin Cates-Carney

In the digital age of communication, the new generation of people becoming police officers need more training in how to communicate with the public. That’s according to leaders at Montana’s Law Enforcement Academy. They say having a conversation as a cop is different than what many new recruits are used to.

Montana Law Enforement Academy
Corin Cates-Carney

Montana’s Law Enforcement Academy, which trains every new cop in the state, is getting an upgrade over the next few years. Lawmakers approved $6 million, despite the tight budget year, to begin remodels in the academy for new officers.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox in Missoula Monday
Eric Whitney

Montana’s backlogged sexual assault evidence kits will undergo lab testing beginning this month. Last fall, the state got a $2 million federal grant to fund cataloging and testing of the unsubmitted so-called rape kits. 

The gas tax increase is expected to bring in an additional $29 million this year, more than half of which will go to cities and counties for local road-related construction.
Rusty Clark (CC-BY-NC-2)

Gas and diesel prices ticked up over the weekend as a new state tax went into effect. The new tax will increase every July 1 for the next six years, to fund maintenance on bridges and roads across the state.

Rising Temperatures, Drought Conditions Usher In Fire Season In Montana
U.S. Drought Monitor

Fire season is off to a slow start this year, but state officials say drought conditions in eastern Montana and rising temperatures across the state could change that.

Montana Supreme Court Temporarily Halts 'Marsy's Law'
(PD)

The Montana Supreme Court has ordered a temporary stop to Marsy’s Law, the constitutional amendment approved by voters last fall.

The court halted Marsy’s Law, which increases the rights of crime victims, until another legal case challenging the constitutionality of new law is resolved. The constitutional amendment was scheduled to go into effect July 1.

Montana Insurers Propose Rate Increases From 2 - 23 Percent
(PD)

Montana lawmakers are making plans to research statewide health concerns ahead of the next legislative session. But those plans could be upended this summer depending on actions in Washington D.C. amid the Trump administration’s push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Lawmakers will study prisoner solitary confinement and meth and opioid abuse during the legislative interim as they begin to shape new policy proposals for the 2019 session.
Eric Norris (CC-BY-2)

Lawmakers will study prisoner solitary confinement and meth and opioid abuse during the legislative interim as they begin to shape new policy proposals for the 2019 session.

Democratic Senator Jon Tester held a digital town hall Tuesday night to answer questions about the Republican health care proposal awaiting action in the U.S. Senate.

The hour long Facebook live event came hours after Senate Republican leaders announced a delay on the vote for their long-awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare”. 

Governors from the western U.S. converge on Whitefish this week for the annual Western Governors Association.
Corin Cates-Carney

Governors from the western U.S. converge on Whitefish this week for the annual Western Governors Association. Monday, they talked about international trade agreements between the U.S. and Canada. 

The round table discussion between 10 western governors, a Canadian ambassador, and the premier of Saskatchewan, began with a question about the ongoing softwood lumber trade dispute between the two countries.

Grizzly bears in the NCDE  have been roaming far east of the Rocky Mountains following drainages, streams and food into the tan waves of farmland stretching out from the forest edges of the Rocky Mountain Front.
Josh Burnham

Last Thursday the Interior Department announced that it’s removing Yellowstone-area grizzly bears from the endangered species list. It’s expected that grizzlies in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) will be de-listed in 2020.

For the first time in a lifetime, grizzly bears in the NCDE  have been roaming far east of the Rocky Mountains following drainages, streams and food into the tan waves of farmland stretching out from the forest edges of the Rocky Mountain Front.  

In the town of Valier, where about 500 people live along a lake an hour and a half drive from the mountains to the west, the community is still adjusting to living among grizzlies.

PD

The governors of Montana and other western states are meeting Monday with Canadian leaders to talk about economic development between the two countries.

The meeting between state and provincial leaders comes as the U.S. and Canada are battling over softwood lumber trade.

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