Nancy Ballance

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.

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.

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.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

On this episode of "Capitol Talk": The House passed a budget on a party-line vote after shutting down every Democratic amendment. "It was very acrimonious and quite a contrast from two years ago when the budget bill passed the House by a 100 to nothing margin," Chuck Johnson says.

William Marcus

For the past two days, the Montana House was locked into something that resembled a scene out of the movie Groundhog Day. First, a member would stand up and introduce an amendment to the state budget.

For example, an amendment to add some money for the board of pardons and parole. Then there would be a short debate about the amendment. This would take anywhere from two minutes to an hour or more. And finally the amendment would be rejected on a party line vote.

And, back to square one.

And so on, and so on, a total of 73 times.

State Budget Hearings Begin Wednesday At The Montana Legislature

Mar 17, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Wednesday, the debate at the Montana Legislature begins over the state-wide budget in House Bill 2. The bill gained only Republican support out of committee because it was more than $100 million less than the governor asked for.

Montana Lawmakers Hear State Employee Pay Plan

Mar 16, 2015
Rep. Nancy Ballance (R) HD87
Montana Legislature

A standing room only crowd packed into the hearing room for the state employee pay plan. Members of the House Appropriations Committee are considering whether to implement the pay plan agreement reached between the Bullock administration and the various public employee unions.

Sheila Hogan heads the Department of Administration. She was one of several agency administrators who spoke in favor of the pay plan.

Lawmakers Begin Debate On Infrastructure Bills

Mar 12, 2015
Rep. Nancy Ballance (R) HD87
Montana Legislature

One of the biggest disagreements at the state capitol this year is how Montana should fund roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Governor Steve Bullock’s “Build Montana” proposal is one big bill that would fund lots of different projects. It would pull funding from several different sources, including the state coal tax trust fund. Legislative Legal Services says, that means his bill would need to win votes from 75% of lawmakers. 

The House Appropriations Committee has begun examining funding for the various infrastructure projects proposed this legislative session.

Gov. Bullock's Preschool Program Faces GOP Opposition

Feb 24, 2015
Courtesy Photo

Representative Tom Woods sent his kids to preschool after searching for a couple of months to find the right fit.

“I’ve got kids. I’ve been through this,” Woods said in a recent interview. “Preschool helped them.”

Rep. Nancy Ballance (R) HD87
Montana Legislature

Montana lawmakers took testimony Wednesday on the first of several bills designed to expand healthcare coverage in Montana without the full-scale Medicaid expansion Governor Steve Bullock is proposing.

Republican Medicaid Bill On Wednesday's Legislative Agenda

Feb 17, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Wednesday at the Montana legislature, the Republicans lay out the start of their own version of Medicaid expansion. Republican Representative Nancy Ballance is carrying House Bill 455, which would extend state insurance coverage to people with disabilities, low-income parents and veterans.

She says this would only include about 10,000 of the approximate 70,000 Montanans without insurance, because she says many of those people are “working-age adults with no kids and no disabilities.”

Montana Republicans Unveil Healthcare Plan, Minus Medicaid Expansion

Feb 10, 2015

A conservative group of Republican lawmakers unveiled their plans to address healthcare in Montana that don’t involve Medicaid expansion. It’ s dubbed “Big Sky Health.” The package contains just over 20 bills.

In a rare move, the Montana House Monday overwhelmingly killed a bill after it was approved in committee. The measure would have allowed local sheriffs to block arrests, searches, or seizures by the FBI or other federal agencies.

Billings Democrat Kathy Kelker said, even though the bill only gave local officials an option to bar federal officials from their communities, it’s a choice that most of them don’t want.

Legalizing The Sale Of Raw Milk On Wednesday's Legislative Agenda

Jan 27, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

The debate over legalizing the sale of raw milk returns to the Montana Legislature Wednesday with

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.

Planned Parenthood of Montana filed a lawsuit Thursday against two measures restricting the abortion rights of minors, one just passed by the 2013 Legislature and the other passed by Montana voters in 2012.