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.

Sen. Daines vs. protesters; the new national attack ad against Sen. Tester; state GOP chairman pushes to block the mail-ballot election for Ryan Zinke's replacement; opposition to Gianforte as the Republican nominee in the upcoming special election; and former Chief Justice Karla Gray's legacy, this week on "Capitol Talk."

The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess

State legislative leaders are no longer taking applications for the job of Montana's top political cop. They've now started the process of selecting the next commissioner of political practices.

In a meeting this morning, four Montana House and Senate leaders discussed  how to move forward in replacing current Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl, whose term ended in January.

The confirmation of Montana’s at-large Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke to head the Interior Department could come as soon as next week. Democrat Dan West says he's best prepared to replace Zinke and navigate Washington D.C.'s turbulent waters.

Dan West loves kayaking. The Missoula native loves it so much he used to be a professional kayak instructor. So perhaps it's only natural that he uses the sport in a new campaign video that's circulating on the internet. Decked out in a dry top and paddling in an ice cold Montana river, West declares:

Accusations of voter suppression are already flying ahead of Montana's anticipated special election to fill Ryan Zinke's seat in Congress.
Josh Burnham

Accusations of voter suppression are already flying ahead of Montana's anticipated special election. That would be held after Congressman Ryan Zinke vacates his seat, pending Senate confirmation of his appointment to become secretary of the interior.

Bison at the Stephens Creek Capture facility north of Yellowstone Park in 2015.
Jim Peaco (PD)

On Monday the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's Michael Wright reported that more than 570 Yellowstone National Park bison have been killed so far this winter. The Park is trying to reduce the size of its bison herd from an estimated 5,500 animals to about 3,000.

The annual slaughter happens as part of compromise between the Park Service and State of Montana, which says bison numbers need to be controlled to prevent the spread of the disease brucellosis to cattle. It's controversial, and there is an alternative.

Joining us now to talk about it is Amy Martin, who spent the last year reporting on bison for her podcast: Threshold.

Brad Van Wert, also known as Solar Guy, gives a speech at a brewery in Kalispell, Montana earlier this month.
Nicky Ouellet

If you ever go on Facebook, you may have noticed a new face popping up in your newsfeed. Solar Guy, or Brad Van Wert, is the face of Charge Montana, a coalition of renewable energy advocates, to get Montanans excited about solar energy, and more specifically, legislation that affects the cost of electricity.

Montana Senator Steve Daines spoke at the state Capitol Wednesday, February 22.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

When U.S. Senator Steve Daines arrived to the state Capitol Wednesday to speak with House lawmakers and tout support for President Trump's Nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, a crowd of protesters, and a few supporters, were there to meet him.

Senator Daines' Speech To Montana's Legislature

Feb 22, 2017
Sen. Steve Daines
Courtesy photo

This transcript of U.S. Senator Steve Daines’ remarks as prepared for delivery was provided by his staff.

Flags across Montana flew at half-staff Tuesday in honor of Montana’s first female Supreme Court Chief Justice, Karla Gray. Gray died Sunday in Helena of cancer. She was 69-years-old.

Hundreds gathered at the Capitol steps Tuesday, Feb. 21, to voice their disagreement with Sen. Steve Daines. Daines is being accused by the protesters of not listening to the citizens of Montana.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

Just before U.S. Senator Steve Daines was scheduled to give a speech in front of Montana lawmakers Tuesday afternoon, a crowd of protesters gathered on the Capitol steps.

The event was organized by a Facebook group called "Bring The Town Hall to Steve Daines".

Pages