MTPR

Jon Tester

Libertarian candidate for U.S. House Mark Wicks (L) was in Kalispell last weekend inviting his supporters to show off their "ugly trucks."
NIcky Ouellet

Democratic U.S. House candidate Rob Quist rallied supporters in Kalispell this weekend with the help of Senator Jon Tester. Libertarian candidate Mark Wicks was in Kalispell too, inviting his backers to show off their ugly trucks. Nicky Ouellet reports.

Montana is home to over 150 gun manufacturers, the highest number per capita in the nation.
PD

The United States is a big player in the global arms trade, and nationwide, Montana is pretty into the gun business, it has the highest number of licensed gun manufacturers per capita of any state.

But not very many Montana guns are sold overseas. Montana’s Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines are trying to change that for people like Peter Noreen.

Methane flaring.
WildEarth Guardians (CC-BY-ND-ND-2)

The U.S. Senate could not muster enough votes Wednesday to undo rules designed to reduce methane pollution.

Senators voted 51-49 Wednesday against an attempt to eliminate an Obama-era rule to limit methane emissions from oil and gas production facilities on federal and tribal lands.

Sen. Jon Tester.
PD

Montana’s senior U.S. senator is calling for a special investigator to look into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Bill Proposes Permanent Ban On Mining Near Yellowstone

Apr 25, 2017
Emigrant Peak north of Yellowstone, near the area of a proposed Lucky Minerals mine exploration.
Flickr user Sean Wolf (CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has introduced legislation to permanently ban new mining in an area of Montana just outside Yellowstone National Park. The Montana Democrat says responsible natural resource development is an important part of Montana's economy but the doorstep of Yellowstone is one place that should be protected.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

President Trump signed a bill today to temporarily extend a troubled program designed to allow veterans to get medical care in the private sector.

It's a fix that hasn't fixed much, but the troubled Veterans Choice program has been extended anyway.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed a bill extending the program intended to speed veterans' access to health care beyond its original August end point.

What does the Kansas congressional election have to do with Montana's House race? Will the upcoming visits by Donald Trump Jr. and (possibly) Bernie Sanders, help the candidates? Mail-only voting looks dead in the Legislature, where passage of a gas tax hike looks likely and infrastructure funding and bonding are still being debated. And in 2018 election news, Jon Tester has a Republican challenger in the Senate race. These stories an more on this episode of "Capitol Talk."

Kalispell Republican Enters 2018 Senate Race

Apr 11, 2017
State Senator Albert Olszewski announced that he'll challenge Sen. Tester in the 2018 Elections.
Montana Legislature

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has his first challenger in the 2018 Montana elections. Republican state Sen. Albert Olszewski said today he will run for Tester's seat.

Olszewski is an orthopedic surgeon who lives in Kalispell. He served one term in the state House from 2015-2017, and is in his first term in the state Senate.

Can the governor's amendatory veto bring back the mail ballot option for the special election? We parse Quist's new TV ads and his decision not to participate in a public broadcasting statewide debate. We also discuss what Gianforte gains or loses by keeping a low profile. Then we look at how Tester's Gorsuch vote might affect his re-election chances next year. Finally, we remember the well-respected former Helena legislator Mignon Waterman who died this week.

Montana Senator Jon Tester.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Sen. Jon Tester released a statement to the press Sunday, saying that after "thoughtful deliberation, late nights, and the counsel of thousands of Montanans," he's decided he "cannot support the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch."

Gorsuch is President Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

You can read Sen. Tester's statement on the Gorsuch nomination here.

Sen. Jon Tester.
PD

Yesterday Montana's Republican Attorney General Tim Fox sent Senator Jon Tester a letter, urging the Democrat to vote to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch as the next justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The letter comes as Senate Democratic leadership is urging a filibuster of Gorsuch's nomination. Time magazine says 35 Senate Democrats have pledged to vote to block Gorsuch, that's just six votes shy of the number needed for a successful filibuster. Montana Public Radio asked Tester how he'll vote on Gorsuch earlier this week.

Veterans Choice, file photo.
Courtesy Veterans Administration

Senator Jon Tester says he'll push for an extension of the troubled Veterans Choice healthcare program on the Senate floor Thursday.

Tester is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs committee. He co-sponsored the original, bi-partisan Veterans Choice bill in 2014. It was a $10 billion response to revelations that some veterans were being harmed by having to wait for long periods to get healthcare through the VA.

Sen. Tester hears constituent concerns at Helena town hall, March 17, 2017.
Nicky Ouellet

Montana’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester was in Helena Friday afternoon for an in-person town hall. You can listen to the full meeting at the bottom of this post.

Tester spoke for a little over an hour to a friendly crowd of 200 people at Helena Middle School. Town halls nationwide have become confrontational events for many members of Congress. Recently, Montana’s Republican Senator Steve Daines has taken heat for not meeting face-to-face with constituents back home. He hosted a so-called “tele-town hall” two weeks ago, which he says allows him to interact with more Montanans because people don't have to travel to participate in them.

The American Library Association awarded U.S. Senator Jon Tester, D-MT, its James Madison Award in recognition for his advocacy for government transparency and public access to government information. The award coincides with National Sunshine Week, March 12-18, 2017, that promotes the public’s right to know.


Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke may not be able to provide the slam dunk for Montana’s Little Shell Tribe that some had hoped he would. At least not right away.

Montana’s Little Shell Tribe has spent nearly four decades fighting for federal recognition. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke indicated Wednesday they might have to wait just a bit longer than they hoped.

Tester Bills Gives VA Bigger Role Veterans Choice Program
Courtesy Sen. Jon Tester

Three years after Congress created the Veterans Choice healthcare program, it continues to flounder.

Here’s Montana Senator Jon Tester, who helped create Veterans Choice:

Senator Jon Tester
Eric Whitney

Senator Jon Tester asked for an opportunity to speak to Montana Public Radio listeners. In this interview we ask him about investigations into the Trump administration's contacts with Russia, his takeaways from President Trump's address to Congress Tuesday, and his thoughts on the May special election and his re-election campaign in 2018. 

Congressman Ryan Zinke testifying before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee January 17.
CSPAN

The U.S. Senate moved Congressman Ryan Zinke one step closer to becoming secretary of interior in President Trump's administration.

A birds-eye view looking north into the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
Josh Burnham

At a ranch near Seeley Lake Wednesday, U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced he is introducing the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. The bill would protect nearly 80,000 acres of wilderness and develop a comprehensive trail plan to provide recreationists with access to the Lolo National Forest. This would include opening some areas to snowmobiling and protecting access for mountain biking.

Last week, both of Montana’s senators held virtual town-hall meetings to connect with constituents. Questions ranged from Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, to the Affordable Care Act and Russia.

President Donald Trump Thursday ended a key Obama-era coal mining regulation designed to protect waterways from coal mining waste.
Flickr user oatsy40 (CC-BY-2)

President Donald Trump Thursday ended a key Obama-era coal mining regulation. Montanans' reaction to the repeal of the Stream Protection Rule covered the gamut from elation to frustration. 

Congressman Ryan Zinke testifying before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee January 17.
CSPAN

If the Senate votes to confirm Representative Ryan Zinke as the next Interior Secretary, he will become the first Montanan to hold a cabinet level position. This first has many Montanans wondering, how does this work?

Sen. Jon Tester
U.S. Senate

Senator Jon Tester announced Friday he will host an online town hall meeting Wednesday, Feb. 15.

The Democratic Senator says the town hall is in response to an unprecedented volume of phone calls, emails and letters from Montanans, who want to engage in policy discussions.

Sen. Jon Tester.
PD

A proposed constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people faces extremely long odds, according to one Montana political scientist. Senator Jon Tester announced earlier this month that he plans to introduce three campaign finance-related bills.

Sen. Jon Tester
U.S. Senate

Montana Senator Jon Tester met with President Donald Trump at the White House today. Tester, a Democrat, characterized the meeting as a ‘productive conversation’.

About 25 members of the activist group Big Sky Rising protested outside Sen. Daines' Kalispell office Wednesday, Feb. 08 over the senator's role in silencing Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Nicky Ouellet

The chants of protesters and ralliers have become familiar sounds recently. Protests, pickets and rallies have been popping up across Montana cities ever since the election last November.

Rob Saldin, a professor of political science at the University of Montana, says the amount of political activism we’ve seen so far in Donald Trump’s presidency is unprecedented.

A proposal to federally recognize Montana’s Little Shell Tribe advanced a step in the U.S. Senate Wednesday.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee unanimously approved the measure, which would also give the tribe 200-acres to use as a land base. Montana Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines sit on that committee.

Betsy DeVos eked out enough votes to become the next Education Secretary this morning. Montana’s Senators in Washington have mixed reactions to her confirmation.

People in cities across Montana held rallies last week pushing back against President Trump’s executive order halting immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations. More than a hundred people cheered pro-immigration slogans in a Missoula park on Friday before marching to Republican Senator Steve Daines’ local office to drop off letters asking him  to hold a town hall discussion here.

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