MTPR

Montana politics

In a debate that seemed as late as Friday not likely to happen, Republican Ryan Zinke met Democrat John Lewis in a statewide debate that focused on experience and education Monday night in Billings.

Montana PBS had already cancelled broadcast coverage after Zinke cited a scheduling conflict, but the Monday evening debate was available across the state on radio. You can listen to the debate from Yellowstone Public Radio.

Neither candidate has widespread name recognition – Zinke having served in the state legislature and Lewis as state director for former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus – so the debates are a vital piece of both men’s campaigns, according to University of Montana political science professor Christopher Muste.

I think Zinke will attack Lewis for being inexperienced and Lewis will attack Zinke for being out of touch and having extreme views on a number of issues,” Muste said in the pre-debate analysis with Montana Public Radio.

The debate, in the end, was largely a civil and substantive affair. Zinke stuck hard to the issues of education and energy independence, claiming that Montana “had enough coal to support the nation at peak consumption for the next 100 years.”

Lewis countered that Zinke would pursue oil and gas exploration at all times and criticized him for not support limits on energy exploration near Glacier National Park, a position supported by current U.S. Rep. Steve Daines.

On education, Zinke stated he rejected the increasingly controversial learning standards known as Common Core and wanted to boost more training for skilled labor.

Lewis focused his efforts in staking out support for higher education and reducing student loans. He said by financing student loans “much like you would a house” and ensuring continued access to Pell Grants, he could cut the amount of debt many Montana students have. He added that Zinke would cut support for higher education, making it more expensive for students.

The two meet again on Saturday for a debate in Bozeman.

CSPAN

Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke, who is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Interior, had a four-hour confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee on Tuesday.

Montana’s congressional delegation is seeking to overturn federal mandates for driver's licenses. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester and Representative Ryan Zinke announced on Thursday they’ve introduced legislation that would repeal the Real ID Act of 2005.

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.

Feds Dismiss Tongue River Railroad Permit
(PD)

A yearlong federal review shows coal sales from public lands need to be modernized to deal with climate change and give taxpayers a fair return. The Interior Department imposed a moratorium on new coal sales last year. It's now considering raising royalty rates and requiring compensation from mining companies to offset coal's effect on climate change.

Senator Jon Tester at the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Health Department Saturday
Eric Whitney

Senator Jon Tester is asking for feedback on what would happen if Congress and the Trump administration repeal the Affordable Care Act as they’ve been promising.

On Friday and Saturday he visited Libby, Kalispell, and Missoula to meet with health care providers and leaders at hospitals, clinics and public health departments.

Former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer.
File photo (PD)

Montana Musician Rob Quist landed a significant endorsement in his bid to become the Democratic nominee to run for Congressman Ryan Zinke’s seat. Zinke is expected to give up that seat later this year if the Senate confirms him to be President-elect Trump’s Interior secretary. A special election will be held, likely in the spring.

A graph from the Montana Budget and Policy Center's New Report
Montana Budget and Policy Center

If Congress and the Trump administration repeal the Affordable Care Act, 142,000 Montanans could potentially lose their health insurance coverage.

That’s according to a new report from the Montana Budget and Policy Center.

Rob Quist is a familiar name in Montana. The Cut Bank native who now lives in the Flathead is famous as a songwriter and musician. Now  he's running for Rep. Ryan Zinke's soon to be vacant seat in Congress.
Courtesy

Rob Quist is a familiar name in Montana. The Cut Bank native who now lives in the Flathead is famous as a songwriter and musician, first as a member of the Mission Mountain Wood Band, and then as a solo artist.

Today, Quist said he now wants a job outside the arts:

The U.S. House took a vote related to public lands yesterday that has Democrats and conservation groups crying foul.

It’s part of a larger rules package that would change how Congress calculates the value of federal public lands when it comes to transferring them to states.

Senate Republicans Seek To Push Motl Out As Commissioner

Jan 3, 2017
Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl testifies in his lawsuit against Republican Rep. Art Wittich, March 31, 2016.
Kimberly Reed

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Senate Republicans who oppose giving Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl a full six-year term in office want to intervene in a lawsuit that aims to do just that.

Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, told his GOP caucus Tuesday that a resolution will be introduced as early as Wednesday defending the Senate's confirmation process, which set Jan. 1 as the expiration of Motl's term.

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