Pat Connell

Montana Republicans Divided Over Open Primaries

Mar 18, 2015
Michael Wright - UM Community News Service

Rep. Steve Fitzpatrick, the tall, bespectacled Republican from Great Falls, stood up on the House floor in late February and explained his bill that would allow local political party officers to be appointed by the state party instead of elected in primary elections.

But the bill was about something bigger, Montana’s century-old open primary law.

“It’s really a fundamental question with this bill,” Fitzpatrick said. “Do you believe in open primaries or do you believe in closed primaries?”

Ranchers who lose livestock to mountain lion attacks would get compensation from the state of Montana under a bill the Senate approved Friday. The state already pays ranchers who lose animals to wolves and grizzly bears. Hamilton Republican Pat Connell says mountain lions are a scourge for Montana’s ranchers.

Dan Boyce

A Democratic state representative believes a new water plan being developed by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) may provide a vehicle for inserting more climate science into state policy.

On Tuesday, members of the legislature’s Water Policy Interim Committee heard presentations from several prominent state climate scientists on the future of agricultural water use. These addressed the changing of Montana’s mountain snowpack, key stresses on the state’s water sources, and projections of future water supply.