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

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The big state budget bill landed on Governor Steve Bullock’s desk Monday, one of the final acts of the 2017 legislative session, which was gaveled to a close Friday.

MTPR’s Capitol Reporter Corin Cates-Carney joins us for a look at what Montana lawmakers did and didn’t accomplish since convening in January.

Gov. Steve Bullock.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

The 2017 legislative session came to a chaotic end this morning. Democrats and Republicans fought until the final hour over funding long-term public works projects.

When the final gavel struck, Republicans leaders said they’re proud of their party’s unity and keeping government growth in check. Democrats also talked up their wins, but expressed frustration in being unable to accomplish their major goals.

Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

Montana senators have started the clock on the final day of the legislative session, forcing a 24-hour limit on the political chess match over funding long-term construction projects in the state like water treatment plants, a state veterans home, and schools.

"We’re going to turn the hourglass over and say you got one more day. Let’s get it done,” said Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso.

Budget Stabilization Plan Outlines State's Response To Future Revenue Shortfalls
Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

At the end of a legislative session defined by the state having less money than initially projected, lawmakers Wednesday negotiated a new budgeting system designed to protect the state against future revenue shortfalls. 

With state revenues down from slumping markets for oil, gas, coal and agricultural products, lawmakers spent most this session arguing over spending priorities in the state budget.

Katherine Hitt (CC-BY-ND-2.0)

A tax on medical marijuana is now on it’s way to the governor's desk after passing out of the House Tuesday morning.

A signature from Governor Steve Bullock is now all that stands in the way of a tax on medical marijuana providers becoming law.

The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess

A bill to reform state campaign finance laws hit a snag on Monday when Senators rejected work by their peers in the House.

Billings Republican Tom Richmond says his bill to increase contribution limits and remove loopholes in state campaign laws passed with wide support, picking up all but two votes in the Senate in March, but is now at risk of being vetoed by the governor unless changed.

During a campaign rally in Hamilton, MT April 21, Donald Trump Jr. told his father's supporters, many wearing  red ‘Make America Great Again Hats’, that if they liked Trump, they'd like Greg Gianforte, a software entrepreneur from Bozeman.
Corin Cates-Carney

The Republican candidate for Montana’s vacant seat in the U.S. House flew around the state with the son of the U.S. President Friday and Saturday, rallying the voting base that turned Montana a dominant red in November.

Greg Gianforte failed to ride that conservative wave of support that gave Republicans sweeping victories statewide and nationally, losing the governor’s race and gathering the fewest votes of any of his party’s candidates who ran for statewide or federal office here.

During a campaign rally in Hamilton, MT April 21, Donald Trump Jr. told his father's supporters, many wearing  red ‘Make America Great Again Hats’, that if they liked Trump, they'd like Greg Gianforte, a software entrepreneur from Bozeman.
Corin Cates-Carney

Republican U.S. House Candidate Greg Gianforte welcomed the son of the president of the United States to a stage at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds today, raising money and support from a cheering crowd. Gianforte's team and other volunteers say around 600 supporters turned out.

Donald Trump Jr. compared Greg Gianforte to this father during the rally in Hamilton, tapping into a still moving wave of conservative support left over from the November election.

Supporters line up ahead of the Greg Gianforte & Donald Trump Jr. Rally in Hamilton April 21, 2017.
Rachel Cramer

Donald Trump Jr. is in Montana to campaign and raise money for Republican U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte. The president’s son is joining the Bozeman software entrepreneur turned political hopeful today and tomorrow to rally supporters on a four town tour of the state, in support for Gianforte’s bid for the U.S. House.

Contentious Budget Bill One Vote From Passage At Montana Legislature

Apr 20, 2017
Rep. Nancy Ballance.
Mike Albans

The state’s main budget bill is one vote away from going to the governor’s desk. Majorities in both the House and Senate have now agreed on it and some of its companion spending bills.

For the first time in recent memory, the state's main budget bill won't go to a joint House-Senate conference committee to hammer out any more deals. 

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

Montana's utility regulators won a drawn out legislative struggle with the state’s largest utility today. A bill preventing NorthWestern Energy from passing on some its costs to customers cleared the Senate.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox was considered a possible contender in the 2018 senate race, after Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke accepted the position of Interior Secretary.
Courtesy Montana DOJ

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announced a new strategy to combat substance abuse in the state on the Capitol steps Wednesday afternoon.

Backed by law enforcement, lawmakers, and healthcare officials, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announced an initiative his office is calling "AID," short for addressing the impact of drugs:

Coal with the town of Colstrip in the background
Amy Martin

An attempt to resurrect legislation written to aid the city of Colstrip when parts of the coal-fired power plant there shut down, failed a long-shot vote Tuesday afternoon.

Democratic Representative Jim Keane pressed lawmakers to blast Senate Bill 338 onto the House Floor for debate after it failed to pass out of a committee last week on a tie vote.

Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas (R) SD44.
Mike Albans

A big part of this year’s legislative session has been Montana’s Republican-controlled Legislature fighting with Democratic Governor Steve Bullock over tax proposals.

Republicans have passed some of their priority bills, which at times have died with Bullock’s veto. And the governor’s proposals often died early in Republican-led committees. On Tuesday, Republican leadership announced a compromise with just two weeks left in the legislative session.

NorthWestern Energy truck.
Sue Ginn

Montana’s utility regulators failed Thursday in an attempt to push forward their top priority of the legislative session — changing the law to limit how much of the costs of electricity supply NorthWestern Energy can pass onto its customers.

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)

House Bill 473 would impose the first increase to Montana’s gas tax increase since the early 1990s, when the tax was raised to the current charge of 27 cents per gallon.

The new tax proposed by the House, in March, calls for an additional 8 cent tax increase per gallon of gas. But that was too high for the Senate. So, this week the Senate passed a compromise: 4.5 cents per gallon, going up to 6 cents by 2023.

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

A proposal for a new kind of rainy-day fund to protect Montana from future boom and bust swings in the state budget passed out of a House committee Wednesday.

Lawmakers are considering a change to how the state saves money, creating a new system allowing the state to react more quickly when it faces a shortfall in revenue.

Duane Ankney, the Republican Senator from Colstrip
Mike Albans

The town of Colstrip’s biggest champion in the Legislature walked out of the south entrance of the Capitol building Monday night disappointed.

His proposal aiming to secure the social and economic future of his home town, as parts of the coal-fired power plant there are scheduled to go off line in coming years, failed to pass out of a House committee.

How to find your polling place, return your absentee ballot, or vote in person in Montana's special election:
Josh Burnham

County election officials need to know this week if a last-ditch effort to run next month’s special congressional election by mail will pass the state Legislature.

Next week, counties across the state will start finalizing their list of voters who will cast absentee ballots in that election.

Gov. Steve Bullock. File photo.
Corin Cates-Carney

Governor Steve Bullock used his veto pen today to force state lawmakers to reconsider mail-in balloting in the upcoming special election, resurrecting one of the most contentious political topics of the legislative session.

Lawmakers voted Thursday to bank on a projection that state revenue will increase substantially in the next 3 years to help balance the state budget. Democrats called that reckless.

Senate Bill 354 would boost the cost of packs of cigarettes and cans of chew by at least a $1.50.
Flickr User, Lindsay Fox (CC-BY-2.0)

A significant tax increase to cigarettes, chew and other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, got its first hearing in the House today, having already passed out of the Senate. As the tax proposal moves forward, it faces rising pressure from Senate Republican leadership to kill the bill.

An anti-abortion bill that would force doctors to save a potentially viable fetus is a step closer to the governor's desk.

It passed the Montana House on a near party line vote Wednesday, and would ban abortions if there is a better-than-half probability that a fetus can survive outside a mother's womb.

Montana Capitol
William Marcus

The Montana Senate approved a state budget today that’s about $19 million above the budget passed by the House of Representatives.

The state budget moved out of the Senate in a brief morning vote 29-20.

A bill to address the high cost of air ambulance rides may not do anything if it passes in the state legislature. Because, as one lawmaker puts it, the proposed legislation may accomplish its goal even before it becomes law.

Budget Bill Passes State Senate
Corin Cates-Carney

MTPR's Capitol Reporter Corin Cates-Carney recounts Monday's day-long debate over the state budget bill in the Senate.

The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess

Governor Steve Bullock and members of his staff interviewed candidates for the job of Montana’s next Commissioner of Political Practices, this afternoon.

Governor Bullock spent a little over ten minutes in each of his interviews with Ben Tiller, an attorney with the State Auditor’s office, and Jeff Mangan, a former Democratic legislator.

Montana's May 25 special election will be held with both mail ballots and polling places available.
Josh Burnham

What’s known as the mail-in ballot bill, to give counties the option of running the upcoming special election without physical polling places, is now dead after a vote today in the state House of Representatives.

Supporters of Senate Bill 305 tried to blast the legislation onto the House floor after it failed to move out of committee earlier this week.

Republican Sen. Duane Ankney from Colstrip says the bill isn’t supposed to penalize the companies for leaving, but to help set expectations for when they do.
Mike Albans

Legislation aiming to secure the social and economic future of Colstrip and the community sustained, in part, by the town’s coal-fired plant passed out of the Senate today. Senate Bill 338 received wide bipartisan support as it passed two key votes this afternoon.

A tax increase on cigarettes and chew took a step forward today in the Montana Senate. The proposed tax expansion would for the first time include e-cigarettes.
(PD)

A tax increase on cigarettes and chew took a step forward today in the Montana Senate. The proposed tax expansion would for the first time include e-cigarettes.

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