Art Wittich

Courtesy Photo

NOTE: This post has been edited on 8/19 to clarify information about disenrollment from Medicaid related to not engaging in work or job training programs. 

Montana is holding public meetings this week to get input on its Medicaid expansion plans.

As the state prepares to ask the federal government to accept its version of Medicaid expansion, one critic of the proposal wants to make sure the state is telling the whole story.

Two Medicaid Expansion Opponents Named To State Oversight Committee

May 29, 2015

Governor Steve Bullock and Legislative leaders named their picks for the 9-member panel that will oversee the roll-out of Medicaid coverage for Montana’s working poor. The oversight committee includes two opponents of Medicaid Expansion.

In late April, as the Montana Legislature was getting ready to adjourn, the state Senate confirmed Jonathan Motl as Commissioner of Political Practices, a job he’s held since being appointed by Democratic Governor Steve Bullock in 2013. Montana has had four different Political Practices Commissioners since 2011, and Motl is the first in that time to win Senate confirmation, against harsh criticism from some Republicans.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

On the final "Capitol Talk" of the 2015 session, Sally, Chuck, and Mike talk about the death of the infrastructure bill, the session's winners and losers, and how the outcome might affect the 2016 election.

 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."

On Saturday the Montana House gave final approval to a bill expand Medicaid coverage to Montana's working poor on a 54-to-42 vote.

William Marcus

The House Rules Committee wrapped up a special meeting Friday afternoon. They were considering a challenge to the Medicaid expansion bill that passed the full House yesterday.

Belgrade Republican Representative Art Wittich was arguing that shouldn’t have happened, because the Medicaid bill was improperly sent out of his committee without enough votes to do so.

MTPR Capitol Reporter Steve Jess explains the rules debate.

William Marcus

A bill to extend Medicaid to Montana's working poor won preliminary approval in the Montana House on a 54 to 46 vote. But before it could, supporters of Senate Bill 405 had to fight off another attempt to kill this bill again in committee.

The last surviving bill on Medicaid expansion has been the subject of numerous procedural fights with the most intense action over whether it could come to the House Floor for debate. That finally happened Thursday.

    

Supporters of Medicaid expansion for low-income Montanans are celebrating a major victory tonight, after the House approved the controversial bill.

Montana Capitol
William Marcus

The lone bill barely alive at the Montana Legislature that expand Medicaid coverage to the working poor is now tangled in a procedural fight over the House rules.

It will be an interpretation of those rules that will determine whether the full House gets to debate this bill on the floor.

This fight over Medicaid Expansion began long before the Republican-controlled House Human Services Committee held yesterday’s hearing on Senate Bill 405.

But it came to a head during executive action held after the four and a half hour hearing on this bill.

William Marcus

One of the biggest bills in this year’s Montana Legislature remains in limbo. Wednesday at noon, the House rules committee will meet to decide whether a committee had the right to kill a Medicaid expansion proposal with a “do not pass” recommendation.

Sen. Ed Buttrey (R) SD13
Montana Legislature

Tuesday brings a crucial test for Medicaid expansion in Montana. Republican Senator Ed Buttrey’s bill to offer the government-funded health coverage to about 70,000 more Montanans faces a hearing before the same committee that killed a similar proposal by Democratic Governor Steve Bullock.

Rep. Art Wittich (R) HD68
Montana Legislature

The only Medicaid expansion plan that’s still alive in the Montana Legislature has been assigned to a House Committee; the same committee that killed Governor Bullock’s original Medicaid expansion plan last month.

House Passes Dark Money Bill

Mar 26, 2015
Courtesy Photo

Ten Republican Representatives joined all 41 Democrats and gave preliminary approval to a bill aimed at shining light on so-called "dark money" campaign contributions Thursday.

During the two hour long House Floor debate there were moments of testy remarks among Republicans.

Basically Senate Bill 289 seeks to require candidates to provide more detailed campaign expenditure reports and do so more often.

For Senator Buttrey, Medicaid Expansion Is A Riddle And A Risk

Mar 25, 2015
Sen. Ed Buttrey (R) SD13
Montana Legislature

Middle ground on Medicaid expansion eluded the Montana Legislature in 2013, and since then Senator Ed Buttrey, R-Great Falls, has studied the issue, talked to hospitals and members of the other party and others to get to where he was last week: standing in front of the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk", Sally, Mike and Chuck cover pre-school education's tough reception at the legislature, the infrastructure funding debate, Medicaid expansion passions, and concealed carry on campus.

"Capitol Talk," our weekly legislative news and analysis program, appears on Fridays throughout the legislative session. MTPR's Sally Mauk is joined by Lee Newspapers reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison.

Tune in to "Capitol Talk" on your radio every Friday during the session at 6:35 p.m. and again on Sunday at 11:00 a.m.
 

Legislators Weigh Lawsuit Over Out Of State Coal Ports

Mar 13, 2015

Montana legislators are considering giving $1 million to the Montana Department of Justice for a potential lawsuit against states hindering Montana’s coal trains from getting to larger markets. Namely, markets like China.

'Catastrophic Health Care Costs' Bill On Friday's Legislative Agenda

Mar 12, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Expanding healthcare is on the agenda yet again at the Montana Legislature Friday.

Republican Representative Art Wittich of Bozeman is carrying House Bill 582, and says it’s a part of the Republicans' alternative plans to the governor’s Medicaid expansion.

Democrats Cry Foul Over Medicaid Expansion Vote

Mar 9, 2015
Steve Jess

Governor Bullock’s Medicaid expansion plan is apparently dead for this legislative session. Republicans on the House Human Services Committee voted to give it a “do not pass” recommendation, an unusual move that make resurrecting the bill very unlikely, and has drawn harsh criticism from Democrats.

Medicaid Expansion Debate Begins At The Montana Legislature

Mar 6, 2015
Montana House Speaker Austin Knudsen (R) HD34
Montana Legislature

Before the hearing on Gov. Bullock's Medicaid expansion bill began, the Republican majority took another jab at the bill.

TVMT

The House Human Services committee borrowed the old Supreme Court chamber for a hearing on Medicaid expansion that drew an overflow crowd and is expected to run into the evening.

Gov. Bullock's Medicaid Expansion Bill Gets First Hearing Friday

Mar 5, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Friday, legislators hear Governor Bullock’s Medicaid expansion bill, House Bill 249. It faces an uphill battle from the start.

Rep. Art Wittich (R) HD68
Montana Legislature

Montana lawmakers continue to look for ways to curb what they see as overreach by the federal government.

Montana Republicans Unveil Healthcare Plan, Minus Medicaid Expansion

Feb 10, 2015

A conservative group of Republican lawmakers unveiled their plans to address healthcare in Montana that don’t involve Medicaid expansion. It’ s dubbed “Big Sky Health.” The package contains just over 20 bills.

Lawmakers Consider Bill For Blocking Enforcement Of Federal Gun Laws

Jan 27, 2015

This morning at the Montana Legislature, Representatives considered a bill to make sure no future federal gun ban could be enforced in Montana. This would include bans on large ammo clips and semi-automatic weapons, even though none currently exist.

Bill Aims To Prohibit State Enforcement Of Federal Gun Laws

Jan 26, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

The Montana Legislature re-opens the debate over gun regulation on Tuesday. Republican Representative Art Wittich is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit state police from upholding federal laws that ban large ammo clips and semiautomatic weapons.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

Gov. Bullock introduced his Medicaid expansion plan this week. It promises to help the uninsured and bring Montana tax dollars back to the state. Bullock's plan faces opposition from Republicans who worry Medicaid and other welfare programs are riddled with fraud and create disincentives to work.

Tax Cuts Up For Debate At The Capitol

Jan 20, 2015
Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

Montana lawmakers are considering whether to approve a one-time only tax cut or a slight reduction across all income tax brackets.

The two tax bills were heard Monday before the House Taxation Committee. From Helena, Yellowstone Public Radio’s Jackie Yamanaka has more.

Montana Legislature

A group of Montana Republicans have released their plan to improve health care and insurance coverage in Montana.

Stevensville Senator Fred Thomas says: “Improving our healthcare system is a far more complicated equation than simply expanding government insurance coverage. Any solution must be a comprehensive plan that does more than just provide health insurance through the Obamacare framework.”

You can see the proposal below.

Clean Campaigns, A "Clean Platform" And Clean Coal

Jul 11, 2014

This week in Montana politics:

The A.P. reported that District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock rejected Sen. Art Wittich's attempt to dismiss campaign finance complaints filed against him. The ruling clears the way for the case against Wittich to proceed.

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