Jon Tester

The Land and Water Conservation Fund which uses fees paid by offshore oil and gas drilling companies for conservation programs, has suffered a significant defeat in Congress.

Greater sage grouse. The Department of Interior announced it's decision today not to recommend endangered species protections for the bird.

Governor Steve Bullock says Tuesday’s decision to not recommend endangered species protection for the greater sage grouse is good for both industry and conservationists.

Senate Committee Hears Testimony On Pipeline Safety In Billings

Sep 18, 2015
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a field hearing at Montana State University Billings on pipeline safety as part of the reauthorization of the federal agency that oversees pipelines and hazardous materials.
Jackie Yamanaka - Yellowstone Public Radio

Last winter’s oil pipeline spill into the Yellowstone River near Glendive prompted Montana Senator Steve Daines to call a field hearing on pipeline safety in Billings, which happened today.

The Senate is working on a bill reauthorizing the federal agency that oversees pipelines and hazardous materials. Senator Jon Tester also participated in the hearing.

Sen. Tester urged the crowd to advocate for LWCF funding at an August 24 rally in Missoula, MT.
Josh Burnham

About 60 people rallied in Missoula's McCormick Park Monday afternoon to urge Congressional support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Steve Jess

Montana Democrats re-elected their party leadership and heard pep talks about the coming election at their party convention over the weekend in Bozeman. 

Sen. Tester: Iran Agreement A Step In The Right Direction

Aug 13, 2015

Senator Jon Tester announced Wednesday he will support the Iran nuclear agreement when it comes before lawmakers. He says he came to that decision after personally reading the proposed agreement, talking with experts, and listening to Montanans.

No smoke is visible from the Apgar Lookout webcam on the west side of Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park

As news of the fire on the east side of Glacier National Park spreads, some visitors there are packing their bags and heading west, taking their tourism dollars with them.

Before the fire, the Park was on pace to pass last year’s record setting attendance number of 2.3 million.

States Could Lose Federal Highway Funds Without Congressional Fix

Jul 23, 2015
If Congress fails to act by July 31, the federal government won’t have the ability to process transportation funding payments that were promised to states.

The clock is ticking again toward the expiration of the current federal transportation funding bill. This week, the Senate agreed to debate a long-term funding bill. If Congress fails to act by July 31, the federal government won’t have the ability to process transportation funding payments that were promised to states.

The U.S. Senate this week passed an update to the "No Child Left Behind" education law. The "Every Child Achieves Act" is the first education reform measure to clear the Senate in over 13 years.

Senator Jon Tester says a forest management reform bill co-sponsored by Montana Republican Ryan Zinke that recently passed in the U.S House will have a tougher time in the Senate.

Senator Jon Tester says a forest management reform bill co-sponsored by Montana Republican Ryan Zinke that recently passed in the U.S. House will have a tougher time in the Senate. The bill scales back environmental reviews for some timber projects, and makes it harder to file lawsuits that delay thinning projects.

As the Senate begins debating federal education policy, Montana Senator Jon Tester is trying to remove annual testing requirements from Washington, and Senator Steve Daines is seeking block grants of federal funding instead of money with specific strings attached.

The Senate is currently working on replacing the unpopular No Child Left Behind law, with one called “Every Child Achieves.”

Josh Burnham

Bozeman's Stacey Haugland never thought she'd live to see the day when gay marriage would be legalized nationwide. The Supreme Court today guaranteed that right.

U.S. Supreme Court
Flickr user: Marty Stone (CC-BY-NC-2)

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for people to buy health insurance means nothing really changes in Montana’s health insurance market. And that’s pretty big news.

Elsie Arntzen, a Republican from Billings and former teacher, is running for Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Montana Legislature

Two Montana teachers want to be the state’s next Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Term limiting prevents current Superintendent, Democrat Denise Juneau, from running again. Republican state lawmaker Elsie Arntzen recently filed paperwork to replace her.


Montana farmers will have to take the changing climate into account, even planting different species to accommodate warmer temperatures. That was part of the message delivered at a gathering in Great Falls Friday, sponsored by The Montana Farmers Union. 

A powerful Senate committee Thursday increased funding for a public lands access program, but Montana's senators disagreed on the amount.

East Rosebud Trail map.
U.S. Forest Service, Custer-Gallatin National Forest

Montana’s Congressional delegation today introduced a bill to give Wild and Scenic River status to East Rosebud Creek, which drains the Absaroka-Beartooth range northwest of Red Lodge, Montana.

F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber in Columbia Falls, MT
Eric Whitney

Montana's congressional delegation agrees on at least one issue; too many of our timber stands are sickly, overgrown, and fire-prone. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, and Congressman Ryan Zinke say it's time to reform how we manage our National Forests.

Michael Garrity of the Helena-based environmental group, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, doesn't trust any of them to lead that charge.

Montana Sen. Steve Daines signs the USA Freedom Act on behalf of the Senate
Courtesy photo

Both of Montana’s U.S. Senators today voted in favor of reviving several anti-terrorism government surveillance programs, two days after many expired with the Patriot act of 2001.

Sen. Tester Talks Infrastructure In Eastern Montana

May 28, 2015
Sen. Jon Tester (D) Montana
Courtesy photo

Senator Jon Tester met with local officials in Sidney Thursday to talk about the Bakken-area boom town’s strained roads, water and sewer systems.

Tester has made numerous trips to and held field hearings in Bakken-impacted communities. He’s wanted a first-hand look at how these communities are coping with what was rapid growth. The most recent field hearing was last fall.

A revised federal water pollution rule issued today is earning praise from Montana conservationists and condemnation from the agriculture and building sectors.

Sen. Jon Tester (D) Montana
Courtesy photo

Senator Jon Tester says the Veterans Administration’s new Choice Card program got off to a  “shaky” start. The Choice Card is a new program that lets veterans use private medical care if their nearest VA facility is too busy or too far away.

Montana Senator Jon Tester hopes Wednesday’s 10-hour filibuster over the Patriot Act will convince his colleagues that the controversial law needs a full Senate debate.

Tester says Patriot Act supporters usually bring up the re-authorization vote just before the law expires, forcing the Senate to rush through the process, instead of taking the time for a full discussion.

Sen. Jon Tester (D) Montana
Courtesy photo

Senator Jon Tester wants to reduce the number of student tests required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Montana school superintendent, Denise Juneau, supports the proposal.

Former Governor Tim Babcock died Tuesday morning at the age of 95.

Babcock was elected Montana's lieutenant Governor in 1960. He became the state's chief executive when a plane crash killed Governor Don Nutter, who was also Babcock's close friend, two years later.

Babcock would go on to lose a U.S. Senate race and another bid to serve in the Governor's office, but he and his late wife, Betty, remained active in state politics for the rest of their lives.

U.S. Senator Jon Tester and Veteran’s Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald are on a two-day tour of the state, visiting VA facilities in Helena, Missoula, and Billings.

Tuesday morning they were at Fort Harrison in Helena. McDonald says it’s the 120th VA facility he’s toured since taking over the troubled agency last July. 

McDonald and Tester sat down with about one hundred veterans and active service members, along with representatives of a range of interest groups, for a round-table discussion.

Veterans' Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald is hearing a range of concerns about his agency’s performance on a two-day tour of VA facilities in Montana.

With Senator Jon Tester at his side, VA secretary McDonald listened to representatives of various groups, from mental health advocates to the American Legion, spell out what the VA needs to do to better serve the thousands of veterans across the state. He said the fact that Montana’s VA Health Care System went without a permanent director for eight months is a symptom of the problems his agency is facing.

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

To many Columbia Falls residents the full closure of the local aluminum smelter was more a matter of when than if.

That question was answered with certainty this week when Columbia Falls Aluminum Company announced that it's permanently shuttering the plant.

Local real estate agent Bill Dakin say this development was a long time coming.

"This announcement, finally, an honest announcement that this plant will never refine aluminum again, is kind of a new day here."

Courtesy photo

Today in Missoula, Senator Steve Daines held the second of three meetings he’s called to talk timber issues. He’ll do the same in Bozeman tomorrow.

The Republican Freshman Senator is calling the meetings “Timber Management Reform Roundtables,” and he’s invited mostly timber industry representatives to give him input on what they need to maintain or grow their operations.

courtesy photo

Yesterday, in a story about attempts to boost revenue for Montana counties that are mostly federal land, Montana Senator Jon Tester made the following statement: 

"Unfortunately, every logging sale in Montana right now is under litigation. Every one of them."

Several listeners questioned that statement, so we asked Senator Tester to respond. 

His communications director Marnee Banks said he is unavailable this week.