MTPR

Austin Knudsen

Governor Bullock Faces 260 Bills To Sign Or Veto

May 3, 2017
Gov. Steve Bullock. File photo.
Corin Cates-Carney

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock faces 260 legislative bills that he must soon decide to veto or sign. That's because state legislative leaders held off delivering them until the last minute as political payback for Bullock's decision to use his bill amendment powers to change voting legislation sent to him earlier this year, officials said Wednesday.

Failed Legislation Means Uncertainty For Colstrip's Future

May 3, 2017
The Colstrip Power Plant consists of four separate coal-fired generating units, collectively owned by Puget Sound Energy, Talen Energy, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.
Beth Saboe

When Montana's 2017 Legislature adjourned on April 28, Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, ended almost right where he began.

At the session's beginning, he helped draw up several bills that would help his community, which is facing the impending closure of two out of four units at its massive coal-fired electrical plant. By the time lawmakers left the Capitol, many of the bills – aimed at easing impacts on jobs, tax revenues and real estate – were dead.

Lawmakers Sit Down With Governor To Talk Bonding

Apr 25, 2017

Lawmakers wrapped up Day 85 of their scheduled 90-day Legislative session with no agreement reached on a bonding package.

That morning, 11 legislators sat down with Governor Steve Bullock, Budget Director Dan Villa and other staff in the Governor's Conference Room to talk about possibilities. Specifically, what would it take to reach the 67 votes needed in the House to pass a bonding bill.

Among the bills put on the table were those dealing with abortion and charter schools. House Minority Leader Jenny Eck, D-Helena, said if those bills were part of the deal, the Republican majority would lose Democratic votes, which could doom bonding.


Legislative Fatigue Sets In On Bonding Bill

Apr 24, 2017
Montana House of Representatives.
MTPR

An attempt failed Monday at the Montana Legislature to revive a bonding measure that would pay for university buildings on three campuses and more.

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.

Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

A mail-in ballot bill that could impact how Montanan's select their next congressman, is likely dead after a party line vote Wednesday morning.

Democrats forced a vote on the bill in a House committee hearing, a move that blindsided some Republicans, who criticize the minority party’s tactics.

State revenue estimates have grown, but lawmakers are taking a cautious approach. Will the Legislature pass an infrastructure bill this session? A mail-voting hearing turns heated. And Sally and Chuck remember Bob Ream, on this episode of 'Capitol Talk.'

Carole Mackin, a taxpayer from Helena, is escorted out of a hearing room at the Montana Capitol by a sergeant-at-arms Thursday, March 23 after she refused to stop her testimony in support of Senate Bill 305, which would allow mail ballot elections.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

A bill intended to save counties hundreds of thousands of dollars in the upcoming special election for Montana's vacant U.S. House seat brought heated testimony and debate Thursday in the Capitol.

Senate Bill 305 would allow counties the option of running the May 25 election entirely through mail-in-ballots. Great Falls Republican Senator Steve Fitzpatrick introduced his bill to the House Judiciary Committee:

Colstrip power plant, Montana
Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)

The speaker of Montana’s House is hoping to extend the life of the coal-fired power plants in Colstrip by offering their operators loans to keep them running for at least the next five years.

Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

A meeting to come up with a list of candidates to nominate the state’s next Commissioner of Political Practices was canceled  this week, after Montana’s top legislative leaders couldn’t come to agreement. The meeting originally scheduled for Monday afternoon was postponed indefinitely.

Voters in Clinton, MT cast ballots during the 2016 elections.
Rebekah Welch

A bill designed to save county governments half a million dollars or more is facing a time crunch in the state legislature. It would allow them to conduct mail-in only balloting. If it’s going to have any impact on how voters select the state’s next U.S. congressman, it must pass out of what one lawmaker is calling a kill committee.

Montana House of Representatives.
MTPR

Missoula's Laurie Franklin is a Jewish woman who opposes a "pro-Israel" bill moving through the Montana Legislature. Franklin says it feels strange to oppose House Bill 501:
 
"It is a difficult thing. It doesn't look good," she says.

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

State legislative leaders are no longer taking applications for the job of Montana's top political cop. They've now started the process of selecting the next commissioner of political practices.

In a meeting this morning, four Montana House and Senate leaders discussed  how to move forward in replacing current Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl, whose term ended in January.

The Colstrip Power Plant consists of four separate coal-fired generating units, collectively owned by Puget Sound Energy, Talen Energy, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.
Beth Saboe

After announcing a soon-to-be-released plan to help keep parts of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip open, Montana’s Speaker of the House now says that plan is still up in the air. During the GOP rebuttal to Governor Steve Bullock’s State of the State address in January, Speaker Austin Knudsen said he would be introducing legislation in the upcoming days to help keep Colstrip Units 1 and 2 open for as long as possible.

Rep. Derek Skees.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

After contentious debate over a voter ID proposal, the Republican sponsor has put the brakes on his own legislation. In a move that caught Democrats by surprise, Rep. Derek Skees, a Republican from Kalispell, today asked the House State Administration committee to table his bill.

The "Capitol Talk" panel recaps the State of the State, talks about the state of the budget, and notices that both Amanda Curtis and Greg Gianforte are trying to tie their congressional campaigns to Donald Trump. Can the enthusiasm on display at the women's march be translated into real action for change? Sally Mauk and Rob Saldin discuss the week in Montana politics on this episode of "Capitol Talk."

Colstrip power plant, Montana
Courtesy Montana AFI-CIO

Parts of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip will shut down by 2022. But there’s a chance that the plant’s operators could pull out even sooner, creating an unforeseeable future for the community the power plant employs. Lawmakers in Helena say they have a plan that will help Colstrip stay open for as long as possible.

The group "Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense" rallies in Missoula, MT for stronger gun laws, Dec. 14, 2015.
Josh Burnham

Montana’s Attorney General today ruled Missoula cannot enforce an ordinance requiring gun sale background checks within the city limits.

The Missoula City Council passed the background check ordinance last September. Soon after, state House Speaker Austin Knudsen of Culbertson asked for Attorney General Tim Fox’s legal opinion on the matter.

The priorities Governor Steve Bullock promoted last night during his 3rd State of the State Address were familiar themes from past speeches and from last fall’s re-campaign.

“Fiscal responsibility. Education. Infrastructure. Job Creation. Caring for others,” Bullock summarized.


Gov. Bullock entering the House chambers before his State of the State speech Tuesday, January 24, 2017 in Helena.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

Gov. Steve Bullock outlined his goals for the 2017 Legislature Tuesday during his third State of the State address, including a responsible state budget, infrastructure, business growth and education.

Montana Capitol, Helena.
Mike Albans

State lawmakers consider big budget cuts this session, including $93 million in cuts for the Department of Health and Human Services. The Montana Legislature begins preparations for the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and two familiar names are circulating for the special election to fill Ryan Zinke’s congressional seat — Gianforte and Baucus.

Join Sally Mauk, Chuck Johnson, and Rob Saldin now for this episode of  "Capitol Talk."

Republican Lawmakers Try To Cut Off Campaign Regulator's Pay

Jan 12, 2017
The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's Republican legislative leaders asked state officials Thursday to cut off Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl's pay amid a legal dispute over the commissioner's term of office.

While the maneuver appears to be an attempt to force Motl out of office, Senate President Scott Sales, R-Bozeman, said the issue isn't about the commissioner himself.

Montana Senate.
William Marcus

Montana’s Chief Justice canceled a speech he was supposed to give to lawmakers today. Mike McGrath says he canceled the State of the Judiciary Address after he was told by Montana’s Senate President that lawmakers didn’t have time to attend.

Budget Defines First Week Of Montana Legislature

Jan 9, 2017
Jon Sesso, Senate minority leader and other Democrats at a press conference Tuesday, Jan, 3 at the Capitol.
Freddy Monares - UM Community News Service

HELENA — Montana’s 2017 Legislature has begun to tackle a wide swath of issues, from public safety to infrastructure, from education to agriculture. But as the first of many bills were read in committee rooms around the Capitol last week, it became clear that everything this time around would focus on the budget.

Montana Lawmakers Call For Civility, Bi-Partisanship On Legislature's Opening Day

Jan 2, 2017
Gov. Steve Bullock being sworn in for his second term, Jan. 2, 2017 at the state Capitol in Helena, MT.
Freddy Monares - Legislative News Service

State lawmakers filled the halls of Montana's Capitol Monday for the first day of the 2017 legislative session. As they entered the legislative chambers for the first time, party leaders promised civil, bi-partisan work, despite upcoming fights over the direction of the state budget and policy. 

Governor Bullock, with Budget Director Dan Villa. Governor Bullock released his revenue and spending plan Nov. 15 at the Capitol in Helena.
Corin Cates-Carney

The Bullock administration’s new budget released Tuesday outlines an increase in state spending of just over one percent over the next two years. This despite declining state revenue from the sales of coal, oil and gas.

State Budget Top Priority For Montana Lawmakers Going Into 2017 Session

Nov 14, 2016
Montana Legislature
Corin Cates-Carney

The state budget is the top priority for lawmakers and the governor ahead of the 2017 legislative session that convenes January 2. Yellowstone Public Radio’s Jackie Yamanaka and MTPR’s Capitol Reporter Corin Cates-Carney talked to the newly elected legislative leaders and the governor about their priorities going into the 2017 session.

Montana House Speaker Austin Knudsen (R)
Montana Legislature

Just hours after The Missoula City Council passed a new ordinance requiring background checks on gun sales, a Republican state lawmaker challenged it.

House Speaker Austin Knudsen is asking State Attorney General Tim Fox to review the law. 

Missoulian Jared Broxterman says he likes the flexibility and pay of being an Uber driver.
Mike Albans

Last month Uber drove into Big Sky Country. The world-wide private ride-hailing company started service in Butte, Bozeman, Helena, Billings, Missoula, and Great Falls. That’s giving locals a shot at a new income stream, and residents more choices for public transportation.

Election Season Gets Underway With Candidate Filing

Jan 14, 2016
A handful of legislative and judicial candidates waited outside Secretary of State Linda McCulloch's office Thursday to be the first to register when she opened the doors at 8 a.m.
William Marcus

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The candidate filing period began Thursday, kicking off Montana's 2016 election season in which voters will decide whether to give Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock and Republican U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke new terms in office.

Pages