MTPR

Nancy Ballance

Montana is spending over a million dollars a day fighting wildfires. These are Goat Creek and Sliderock fires, July 23, 2017.
Inciweb

The money set aside to fight wildfires in Montana is rapidly dwindling as portions of the state are in extreme drought conditions. But John Tubbs, Director of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, says there’s more money available to keep up the firefighting efforts, in other pockets of state government.

“We don’t run out,” Tubbs says.

Legislature Passes $10.3 Billion Two-year State Budget

Apr 21, 2017
Montana House of Representatives.
MTPR

HELENA -- It’s been a long and arduous journey, but the $10.3 billion Montana state budget is now on it’s way to Democratic Governor Steve Bullock’s desk. Friday, the Republican-majority House of Representatives passed Senate amendments to the budget 58-41.

A bill to increase the fuel tax continues to advance down the road as the Legislative session is moving closer to adjournment.

“And I find myself in the middle of Montana in the 65th Legislative Session in a very odd position where I feel the need to quote Mick Jagger,” said Representative Frank Garner, R-Kalispell. “And that is you don’t always get what you want.”

Contentious Budget Bill One Vote From Passage At Montana Legislature

Apr 20, 2017
Rep. Nancy Ballance.
Mike Albans

The state’s main budget bill is one vote away from going to the governor’s desk. Majorities in both the House and Senate have now agreed on it and some of its companion spending bills.

For the first time in recent memory, the state's main budget bill won't go to a joint House-Senate conference committee to hammer out any more deals. 

Now that both the full House and Senate have had their a chance to work on the state’s main budget bill, attention is returning to what legislative leaders have said is the priority this session—infrastructure.

Montana Capitol
William Marcus

The Montana Senate approved a state budget today that’s about $19 million above the budget passed by the House of Representatives.

The state budget moved out of the Senate in a brief morning vote 29-20.

Sally Mauk, Chuck Johnson and Rob Saldin review the legislature's busy week as the state budget heads out of the House and on to the Senate. They also discuss how the debate over healthcare and the Trump administration's proposed federal budget is affecting Montana's upcoming special election in May.

Contentious Budget Bill Moves To State Senate

Mar 17, 2017
Budget Stabilization Plan Outlines State's Response To Future Revenue Shortfalls
Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

The budget bill that doles out state money to agencies passed out of the House of Representatives today on a 58-to-40 vote. House Bill 2, made up of more than $10 billion to be spent over two years, has been the most contentious bill in the legislative session thus far.

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

All day Thursday in the House Chambers at the state capitol, Democrats rose to their feet asking for more funding in the state budget shaped by the Republican majority. All of those proposals were rejected before the budget passed second reading along party lines.

Montana House of Representatives.
MTPR

The state's biennial budget will get its first debate on the House floor Thursday, the next round of legislative struggle over the state's lighter-than-hoped-for pocket book, which came up short of initial projections largely because of declines in state revenue from sales of coal, oil and gas.

After a first round of spending cuts and denials of spending increases, late last week a Republican controlled committee passed a budget that Governor Steve Bullock is calling "unacceptable."

Lawmakers overseeing the state budget, today started working to fill in a financial gap in state health department programs for senior citizens and people with disabilities. But, it’s unclear where some of that money is coming from.

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
PD

Leaders of the state health department say the budget state lawmakers are crafting for them is, at this point, dangerously under-funded.

Sheila Hogan, Director of Montana’s Department of Health and Human Services warned legislators during a budget committee hearing Wednesday, that cutting funding from the health department could impact care for seniors and people with disabilities.

Kimberly Dudik is the sponsor of a bill that would require the state health department to work with other organizations to develop a plan to prevent child abuse and neglect.
Mike Albans

The Montana House endorsed a bill Monday that would require the state health department to work with other organizations to develop a plan to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Montana Republicans Want $5.5 Million To Grow Healthcare Program
(PD)

Two Republican state lawmakers from Hamilton are asking for $5.5 million to expand a healthcare program.

Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy (D) HD-32.
Mike Albans

A group of bills moving through the Montana legislature aim to address the state’s high suicide rate. Legislation introduced on Monday would fund grants in Native American communities, where the suicide rate among kids is more than five times higher than it is statewide.

State agencies are offering up about $5.5 million from their current budgets to help lawmakers shore up the state’s checkbook.

Republican legislative leaders made the request in hopes the agencies would help them with the hard decision of further reducing budgets.


Montana’s cash cushion has grown smaller since the 2015 Legislative session largely because of declining revenue from natural resource extraction and lower tax collections.

That’s why lawmakers are summoning state agencies to see if they would make spending cuts in their current budgets to help Montana’s ailing “checkbook.”


Republican Representatives Brad Tschida, Ron Ehli, and Nancy Ballance.
Edward O'Brien

With the election six weeks away, Republican state lawmakers say Montana’s Democratic governor needs a reality check. They say the state’s economy is more fragile than Steve Bullock’s letting on.

At the state Republican Party convention in Billings this weekend, party leaders said it’s time for Republicans to get behind the presumptive nominee, Donald Trump.

Tie Vote Gives Motl His New Campaign Rules

Nov 17, 2015

  Chalk up another victory for Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices, Jonathan Motl.

“I think it's a good day for Montanans and the people in Montana,” Motl said outside a hearing room at the state capitol Tuesday. “I think that this will be a step towards transparency that’s the greatest step we’ve taken as a state.”

Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau visited Heart Butte last week to kick off the Schools of Promise program. She talked with students, parents and school staff about what the million dollar grant means for the school.
Corin Cates-Carney

One of Montana’s lowest achieving schools is in line to receive over a million dollars in aid, starting next year.

Heart Butte High School and its 48 enrolled students are the newest recipients of the federally funded grant known as the Schools of Promise Initiative.

State Budget Work Could Begin Wednesday

Apr 20, 2015

The chairs of the House Appropriations Committee and Senate Finance and Claims expect Wednesday is the earliest day the joint conference committee will meet to begin work on hammering out the differences over the state budget.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk": The Flathead water compact and "dark money" disclosure bills are on their way to the Governor's desk. Work remains on the state budget, the pay plan, and infrastructure funding bill. Will the legislature adjourn early? Sally, Chuck, and Mike bring you up to speed on this week at the legislature.

Montana Lawmakers Consider Legalizing Sale Of Raw Milk

Apr 15, 2015

Wednesday at the Montana Legislature, lawmakers heard testimony on a bill that would legalize the direct sale of raw milk from farmers with no more than seven cows or 15 goats or sheep. Those farmers would have to buy a $75 license and pay $22 a month per animal, along with adhering to several safety procedures.

State Budget Going To Conference Committee For More Work

Apr 15, 2015

As expected, the Montana House rejected the Senate's work on the state's main budget bill. That means the bill now goes to a House-Senate Conference committee to work out the differences.

On Saturday the Montana House gave final approval to a bill expand Medicaid coverage to Montana's working poor on a 54-to-42 vote.

Montana Capitol
William Marcus

A bill to extend Medicaid to Montana's working poor won preliminary approval in the Montana House on a 54 to 46 vote. But before it could, supporters of Senate Bill 405 had to fight off another attempt to kill this bill again in committee.

The last surviving bill on Medicaid expansion has been the subject of numerous procedural fights with the most intense action over whether it could come to the House Floor for debate. That finally happened Thursday.

Budget Director: House Budget Inadequate

Mar 30, 2015
Rep. Nancy Ballance (R) HD87
Montana Legislature

The state budget director criticized the work of the House on the state's budget for the coming biennium.

The comments came as the Senate Finance and Claims Committee started its review this morning.

State Budget Director Dan Villa didn't pull any punches in describing the work of the House on the budget.

Dems Promise 'Silver Bullet' To Keep Governor's Infrastructure Bill Alive

Mar 25, 2015
Rep. Nancy Ballance (R) HD87
Montana Legislature

The fight over how to fund infrastructure projects in Montana continues in the state legislature.

Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

The issue of health care was in play again today in the Montana Legislature. On the day when three Republican health-care proposals were voted down on the floor of the Montana House, yet another proposal got its first hearing in the Senate Health Committee.

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