Montana politics

Veteran's Adminstration
5:22 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Sen. Tester: Hiring Delays For Montana VA Director 'Completely Unacceptable'

Sen. Jon Tester
Credit Jon Tester

It's been eight months since the Montana VA had a permanent director and Senator Jon Tester says he's fed up with the delay.

Tester fired-off a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald this week calling it "completely unacceptable".

The Democrat says he only recently found out that a hire was imminent about three months ago. However,  the Office of Management and Budget found a "screw-up" that scuttled the process.

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Keystone XL Pipeline
5:07 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Tester, Daines Join Senate In Passing Keystone Pipeline Bill

Pipes for the Keystone Pipeline, waiting to be laid in Nebraska in 2009.
Credit shannonpatrick17 (CC-BY-2.0)

Both of Montana’s Senators voted today for the bill to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Democrat Jon Tester says he looks forward to the day when clean, renewable resources provide most of America's energy needs:

"But until we get to a point when that's affordable and available, it appears to me that I'd rather do business with Canada than I would the Middle East."

Tester says the recent Bridger Pipeline oil spill on the Yellowstone River was not only a catastrophe, but entirely preventable.

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Yellowstone Bison
4:40 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Yellowstone Begins Culling Bison That Enter Montana

Bison make their way through deep snow in Yellowstone National Park.
Credit Jim Peaco (CC-BY-2.0)

Yellowstone National Park has started capturing bison near the park's north entrance and bison advocates have sued to stop it.

Disease management and carrying capacity are at the center of the operation.

Park spokesman Al Nash says a total of 800 to 900 bison that migrate out of the park could be removed.

"We're doing so to be able to approach the target bison population and to see if we can reduce the potential for a mass-migration of bison into Montana where there is still some limited tolerance."

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Little Shell Tribe
5:07 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Little Shell Chippewa Tribe May Get Federal Recognition In 2015

The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians is a band of the Chippewa Indians headquartered in Great Falls, Montana.

The chairman of a Montana Indian tribe says he thinks the federal government may formally recognize his tribe by the end of this year.

Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians’ Gerald Gray made that prediction one day after Montana's U.S senators introduced a bill to federally recognize the Great Falls-area tribe. The senators say Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke intends to introduce similar legislation in the U.S House.

Gray says federal recognition would be critically important to the Little Shell people who number about 6,500 members.

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Alternative To Governor's Ideas
6:33 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Montana Republicans' Health Plan Explained, Criticized

The 2015 Montana Legislature Convenes January 5.
Credit Eric Whitney

A group of nine Montana state lawmakers has put out an alternative to Democratic Governor Steve Bullock’s plan to expand Medicaid. They call it the Healthy Montana Family Plan, and it aims to cover more people, without the long term expense of Medicaid expansion.

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Obamacare Alternative
11:15 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Montana Senate Republicans Release Health Plan

Stevensville Senator Fred Thomas chairs the Montana Senate's Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee
Credit Montana Legislature

A group of Montana Republicans have released their plan to improve health care and insurance coverage in Montana.

Stevensville Senator Fred Thomas says: “Improving our healthcare system is a far more complicated equation than simply expanding government insurance coverage. Any solution must be a comprehensive plan that does more than just provide health insurance through the Obamacare framework.”

You can see the proposal below.

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Citizens United
8:49 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Nelson: 'Dark Money' Ruining Supreme Court Elections

Retired Montana Supreme Court Justice Jim Nelson at MTPR.
Credit Eric Whitney

Jim Nelson was appointed to Montana's Supreme Court by Governor Marc Racicot in 1993, and retired in 2012. He's long been an advocate for electing state Supreme Court justices. But now he's changed his mind.

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Flathead Water Compact
4:39 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Flathead Irrigators Urge Rejection Of Water Rights Compact

The Flathead Joint Board of Control, the body that represents most irrigators on the Flathead Reservation, is sharply divided over the proposed water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

At a meeting Tuesday, a majority of the board decided to draft a resolution urging the state legislature to reject the proposal. Vice Chairman Jerry Laskody says most of the commissioners feel the state and the tribe have ignored the concerns of irrigators.

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Flathead Water Compact
4:38 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Off-Reservation Water Rights Complicate Flathead Water Compact

Montana State Senator Mark Blasdel

As a proposed water compact involving the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes moves closer to consideration in the Montana Legislature, we’re talking to people on all sides of the proposal.

Today we’ll hear from Mark Blasdel of Kalispell, who is leaving his post as Speaker of the House to take a seat in the state Senate. Blasdel opposed the compact that died in the last legislature, and he says he’ll oppose the latest version as well.

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Montana Legislature
3:41 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

2015 Legislative Preview

Here are some topics we’re sure to see from this year’s state legislative session starting on Jan. 5th.

Medicaid Expansion

Governor Steve Bullock is still looking to get health care for the state’s 70,000 lowest-income members. Last session, he tried to expand Medicaid, but Republican members blocked it.

This time, however, he’ll be promoting something called “Healthy Montana,” which is an alternative meant to use federal dollars to contract with a private insurer for negotiated rates.  

Attorney General Tim Fox

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