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Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
Bureau of Land Management

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will decide whether to shrink or eliminate 22 national monuments later this month. As Yellowstone Public Radio’s Brie Ripley reports, these monuments are significant money-makers for business owners across the West, who met in Helena and Great Falls Wednesday to discuss their concerns.

In Montana outdoor recreation generates nearly $6 billion in consumer spending annually, and supports over 60,000 jobs.

An escalating trade war brewing between the United States and Canada could save timber mills in Montana, but at the cost of over 1,000 jobs north of the border in British Columbia.
(PD)

An escalating trade war brewing between the United States and Canada could save timber mills in Montana, but at the cost of over 1,000 jobs north of the border in British Columbia.

It all started in April, when the Trump administration slapped tariffs on softwood lumber coming across the border, making them up to 24 percent more expensive. It’s something Montana lumber producers have been asking for, and it’s a test of Trump’s ‘America First’ trade policy. 

A recent informal survey of Missoula parents highlights some of the biggest ongoing local childcare needs and challenges.
(PD)

Affordable and easily accessible childcare is just as elusive in Montana as it is everywhere else in America. At a luncheon Tuesday, a Missoula County group called Healthy Start Missoula that’s supported by a federal grant laid out the challenges and offered one potential private-sector solution.

Healthy Start Coordinator, Anna Semple, says parents now have precious few infant childcare options:

Bill To Eliminate Overtime Pay For Some Seasonal Workers In Montana Advances

Apr 6, 2017
Rep. Amanda Curtis, D - Butte
Mike Albans

HELENA -- A bill that would get rid of overtime regulations for certain seasonal outdoor recreation workers needs just one more vote in the House to get to the governor’s desk.

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

As state lawmakers debate bills designed to keep the strip mine and coal fired power plant at Colstrip open as long as possible, a social experimenter in Helena is convening an event aimed at the heart of the debate over whether fossil fuel-based economies should have a place in Montana’s Future. Tate Chamberlin has pulled together activists, politicians, and entrepreneurs to dive deep into thorny questions around coal, jobs, and climate change. I asked him what he has in mind.

Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Matthew Rosendale.
Montana Legislature

State Auditor Matt Rosendale has approved a nearly 8 percent reduction in Montana's workers compensation costs. The decrease takes effect this summer.

Rosendale says Montana's work comp rates have decreased ever since the 2011 legislative session:

Recruiters At UM Say They're Looking For Talent And Ready To Hire
flickr user Neetal Parekh (CC-BY-NC-2)

Recruiters representing over 70 employers from across the region visited the University of Montana this week. They were interviewing students for jobs and internships. According to Steve Arveschoug of Big Sky Economic Development, there’s no shortage of good jobs available right now in the Billings area.

Bill Could Exempt Outdoor Seasonal Workers From Overtime, Minimum Wage

Feb 21, 2017

HELENA -- Montana lawmakers heard testimony on House Bill 496 Tuesday that would add seasonal outdoor recreation employees to a list of people who wouldn't necessarily be eligible for minimum wage or overtime pay.

Supporters of a bill to create a so-called Montana Paycheck Transparency Act say it will help make sure men and women are paid equally for doing equal work.
seniorliving.org

Supporters of a bill to create a so-called Montana Paycheck Transparency Act say it will help make sure men and women are paid equally for doing equal work.

Diane Sands, a Missoula Democrat, introduced Senate Bill 217 Wednesday morning in the state Senate.

(PD)

Sheila Stearns is barely three months into her interim position as president of the University of Montana.  The former Commissioner of Higher Education and UM alumna freely admits that she has plenty to learn about what’s happening on campus.

Josh Burnham

Healthcare employment in Montana grew by more than 3 percent last year, after years of growth below 1 percent. That's according to the new annual report from the University of Montana's Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

2016 was the first full year of Medicaid expansion in Montana under the Affordable Care Act, which helped the state's uninsured rate drop by nearly two-thirds.

Montana's economy slowed significantly in 2016, and continued slow growth is projected for this year.
Courtesy BBER Montana

Montana's economy slowed significantly in 2016, and continued slow growth is projected for this year. That's according to new numbers released today by economists at the University of Montana.

Josh Burnham

If you’re wondering how repealing the Affordable Care Act will impact Montana, Indian country is a good place to look.

To Native healthcare leaders, Obamacare provides a great opportunity to create jobs.

More than 60,000 Montanans now have health insurance because of the HELP Act, the Medicaid expansion program narrowly passed by state lawmakers in 2015. The oversight committee in charge of reviewing that program met in Helena on Tuesday to check in on the Medicaid expansion. 

John Goodnow, chair of the oversight committee, says because of the HELP Act, a lot of uninsured Montanans now have coverage: 

Montana Capitol dome, Helena.
William Marcus

Montana’s Medicaid expansion program got a progress report today from an oversight committee of lawmakers and health care professionals. While the state’s uninsured rate continues to drop, the job services aspect of the HELP Act isn’t doing as well as supporters had hoped.

Job Service officies statewide, like this one in Kalispell, are offering special help to new Medicaid recipients
Eric Whitney

Medicaid expansion barely passed Montana's Legislature last year. One of the reasons it was able to get enough Republican votes is because it included a component to encourage Medicaid recipients to get jobs, or better-paying jobs, so they could get off of Medicaid and buy their own health insurance.

Tuesday afternoon, a legislative oversight committee is taking a look at how that work component is going.

Montana's Minimum Wage Set To Increase In 2017

Sep 29, 2016
Getty Images/iStock Photo

Montana’s minimum wage will increase by 10 cents starting next year.

A little over one percent of Montana’s workforce receives minimum wage, which is currently $8.05 an hour.

Republican Representatives Brad Tschida, Ron Ehli, and Nancy Ballance.
Edward O'Brien

With the election six weeks away, Republican state lawmakers say Montana’s Democratic governor needs a reality check. They say the state’s economy is more fragile than Steve Bullock’s letting on.

Lt. Governor Mike Cooney, Governor Steve Bullock, and Montana Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Pam Bucy announce the 2016 Labor Day report, September 6, 2016 in Helena.
Corin Cates-Carney

A jobs report released Tuesday by the state’s Department Labor and Industry gives a glowing picture of Montana's current job market, but predicts a worker shortage in the next decade.

Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Pam Bucy handed the 2016 Labor Day report to Governor Steve Bullock during a press conference hosted by a financial company in Helena.

Gov. Bullock Announces Proposals To Spur Business Growth
Corin Cates-Carney

Governor Steve Bullock walked between yellow safety lines painted on the floor at the Anderson Steel Company in Great Falls Tuesday. Bullock choose the steel fabrication plant to announce new proposals aimed at spurring economic growth through legislative action.

Coal with the town of Colstrip in the background
Amy Martin

What is going to happen to Colstrip? That was the question Thursday as state legislators questioned companies that agreed to shut down two of the four coal-burning units of the Colstrip electricity plant.

Montana Labor, Non-Profit Groups React to New Federal Overtime Rule
M. Sullivan (CC-BY-NC-ND)

A new federal overtime rule could have profound impacts in Montana.

Sally Mauk and her guests dissect the first TV ad in Montana’s governor’s race, tally up the big bucks in the U.S. House race, and look at the candidates in the race for superintendent of schools in this episode of "Campaign Beat."

Montana women are earning 67 percent of what men earn.
Flickr user photosteve101

Tuesday, Montana’s gender pay gap was spotlighted at the Capitol. It’s National Equal Pay Day. And Montana women are earning 67 percent of what men earn. Montana is ranked 39th in the nation for gender pay equality. Nationally, women workers earn 71 percent of men’s median earnings.

Montana Public Schools have received a $100,000 grant to help health sciences programs in schools. The grant will focus on getting students in rural areas and reservations a clearer path to careers in health sciences.

Under the new bill, craft brewers will now be able to sell beer in tasting rooms on premises and still can and keg up to 60,000 barrels a year.
Kelli Whithorn (CC-BY-2)

A University of Montana Business Survey says that manufacturers in Montana are optimistic about the year ahead.

Republican candidate for governor Greg Gianforte.
Jackie Yamanaka - Yellowstone Public Radio

Today, Republican Gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte is announcing an extension to his listening tour of more than 60 cities, according to a campaign spokesperson. Gianforte says what he is calling the ‘regulation roundup’ tour is an opportunity to listen to Montana's ideas about business-suffocating regulations that he would put an end to.

Governor Bullock & Pam Bucy launching the HELP-Link program Feb. 08, 2015 in Great Falls.
Corin Cates-Carney

On Monday, the next phase of Montana’s Medicaid expansion was announced at a job service center in Great Falls. Expanding Medicaid under the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act was a hard sell to Montana Republicans in the 2015 legislature until Republican Senator Ed Buttrey introduced a workforce initiative into the healthcare bill, among other changes.

Gov. Bullock was joined by tribal leaders from across Montana as he signed an executive order creating a state office of American Indian Health, June 16, 2015.
Courtesy Office of the Governor

Today the State of Montana posted an ad for a new position in state government looking for a Director of American Indian Health.

Governor Steve Bullock gave an upbeat assessment of Montana’s economy today as he unveiled his office’s 2015 Economic Development Report.
Corin Cates-Carney

Governor Steve Bullock gave an upbeat assessment of Montana’s economy today as he unveiled his office’s 2015 Economic Development Report.

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