Edward O'Brien

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For Coverage Starting Jan. 1
4:38 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Enrollment Deadline For Affordable Care Act Approaching

Partnership Health Center, Missoula, MT
Credit Courtesy Partnership Health Center

An important deadline is fast approaching for those who want an Affordable Care Act health plan that takes effect on January first. Applicants must be enrolled by the end of business on Monday, December 15.

Those who've already signed up, but want to make last minute changes, face the same deadline.

Partnership Health Center's Sandra Mytty says she and her staff have helped lots of people in the Missoula area select policies.

"We're actually doing really well. Since we started we've helped over 350 people since November 15 and we're still going."

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SRS Funding
4:34 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Rural Counties Worry About Losing Federal Schools, Roads Funding

Credit Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

Officials in 33 Montana counties are keenly aware of what's not in the trillion dollar federal spending bill to keep government open: an extension of the Secure Rural Schools, or SRS program, that Montana counties have relied on since 2000.

SRS funding is stripped out of the spending bill the House has been considering this week.

The SRS program was helps pay down school bonds and also funds road maintenance projects.

Mineral County Commissioner Laurie Johnston has a blunt assessment of the situation.

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Coal & Climate Change
4:55 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Crow Nation Opposes President's Climate Plan

Much of the coal from the Crow Reservation gets shipped to power plants in other states.

Southeastern Montana's Crow Nation says President Obama’s pending climate plan would wreak economic havoc on the already-impoverished reservation.

Under the administration's proposal, states must reduce their carbon emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox is going up to bat for the Crow Nation. Fox says he's troubled by how the President is unilaterally guiding this climate proposal.

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Youth Incarceration
4:38 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Youth Incarceration Costly, Ineffective Says Justice Policy Institute

Credit Justice Policy Institute

A new analysis of youth incarceration says it costs Montana, on average, $175,000 annually to incarcerate a single non-violent youth offender.

The non-profit Justice Policy Institute says some violent young people simply must be incarcerated. However, executive director Marc Schindler says jailing non-violent youth is not only a waste of taxpayer money, it's a largely ineffective response to delinquency.

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Libby Health Risk Study
4:17 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Will EPA Study Clean Up Libby's Reputation?

"Popped" Vermiculite from Libby, Montana.
Credit Courtesy EPA

Libby Mayor Doug Roll hopes the Environmental Protection Agency's new health risk study could lead to an economic shot in the arm for the community.

Hundreds of local residents died and even more were sickened by asbestos contamination from a now-closed vermiculite mine and processing plant.

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Health Risk Assessment
4:11 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

EPA Says Libby Asbestos Cleanup Is Paying Off

Credit Courtesy Photo

The Environmental Protection Agency released a long awaited health risk study Monday that will help guide cleanup of more of the asbestos dust found in the Libby area.

Hundreds of Libby residents died, and even more were sickened by asbestos contamination from a now-closed W.R. Grace vermiculite mine and processing plant.

EPA says years of asbestos cleanup efforts are paying off in the northwest Montana town.

Dr. Deborah McKean is EPA toxicologist.

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Public Land Bills
5:39 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Public Land Bills Garner Praise And Criticism

The Chinese Wall in Montana's Bob Marshall Wilderness
Credit The Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation

The U.S House has approved a $585 billion defense bill that includes unrelated provisions to expand wilderness areas. The vote was 300 to 119.

The measure allows President Obama to expand America's military mission against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria. It now moves to the Senate where some Republicans object to the unrelated wilderness measures announced yesterday.

Montana's congressional delegation heralded the suite of included land bills as a historic, rare display of collaboration and Congressional bipartisanship. Some Montana environmental groups agree.

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Hunting Violations
5:35 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Montana Lawmaker Takes Aim At Hunting Violations

Montana Representative Kelly Flynn
Credit Courtesy Montana Legislature

A state lawmaker says he wants to introduce legislation to address ongoing hunting violations in Montana. Republican state Representative Kelly Flynn lives near Townsend where a second so-called "crowd-shooting" incident took place last week.

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Rider To Defense Funding Measure
5:37 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Bill Proposes Protection, Development Of Montana Public Lands

Montana's Rocky Mountain Front
Credit Flickr user Bitterroot (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

Montana's Senators and Senator-elect today announced what they're calling a “landmark” package of public lands legislation. It's being tacked on to a Defense authorization bill that the House and Senate are expected to vote on this week and next.

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Hunting
5:26 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Second Elk 'Crowd Shooting' Incident of 2014 Reported

There’s been another “crowd shooting” incident involving a herd of elk in Montana.

Broadwater County Undersheriff Wynn Meehan says that on Thanksgiving day hundreds of elk near Townsend were hazed by trucks for at least five miles before getting boxed-in and fired on by dozens of Montanans. 

Some of the elk eventually split-off from the main herd, but were immediately pursued into adjacent private land near Highway 12.

Meehan says the trouble resumed first thing Friday morning:

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