Politics

Political news

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox
MT DOJ

The Department of Homeland Security has granted Montana an extension to comply with stringent federal driver's license rules under the REAL ID Act.

Senator Jon Tester continues his statewide listening tour to hear from Montana veterans about how to improve care at the Veterans Administration.

Healthy Montana Initiative

Organizers of the Healthy Montana Initiative - an effort to expand Medicaid to 70-thousand Montanans - conceded defeat today, but vow to continue to support the issue.

Healthy Montana Initiative president, Kim Abbott, says I-170 will not qualify for the November ballot.

Will Deschamps, Montana GOP Chairman
Montana GOP

The chairman of the Montana Republican Party predicts the state GOP will emerge more united from its  platform convention this weekend. 

Will Deschamps says over 300 Montana Republicans are expected at this weekend's bi-annual convention in Billings.
    Conservative and more moderate Republicans on both the statewide and national levels are debating the best course for the party's future. Deschamps suspects that conversation will also be had in Billings this weekend.

American Tradition Partnership, one of the primary “dark money” groups operating in Montana the past few elections, has been fined more than $260,000 for illegal campaign activity. This even as the group may be quietly dissolving.

“Here, we have what appears to be a deliberate attempt to evade Montana’s campaign and reporting requirements,” District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock wrote in his Monday ruling.

Dan Boyce

Former Republican Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger said Thursday he would be the Democratic candidate most able to defeat Congressman Steve Daines in the 2014 Senate Race.

The 77 year-old Bohlinger announced his Senate bid during a Tuesday dinner party held by the Lewis and Clark County Democratic Central Committee, but it was largely overshadowed by Daines announcing his Senate ambitions during a high-profile gathering in Bozeman on Wednesday.

Daines officially announces Senate bid

Nov 6, 2013
Dan Boyce

Congressman Steve Daines officially announced his intentions Wednesday to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Max Baucus in 2014.

"Montanans fundamentally understand that our federal government is too big, it is too powerful, it spends too much and it interferes too often with our daily lives," Daines told the crowd of a couple hundred supporters at the Holiday Inn in Bozeman.

File Photo

  The end of the federal government shutdown this week exposes a growing rift in the Republican Party—a rift between moderates and Tea Party Republicans.

Passage of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act boosted the Tea Party movement three years ago and the momentum put the GOP back in charge of the House of Representatives. Republicans have since tried multiple tactics to delay or defund Obamacare—culminating in the government shutdown early this month.

Congressman Steve Daines was one of eighty-seven House Republicans to vote for legislation ending the partial federal government shutdown and raising the country’s debt ceiling.

Many more Republicans voted against ending the shutdown—one hundred forty four of them.

Daines previously voted for measures to defund the Affordable Care Act, which eventually prompted Washington’s most recent gridlock.

He defends republican actions through the standoff—saying it was a result of Democrats refusing to negotiate.

Montana’s commissioner of political practices is ruling the conservative dark money group American Tradition Partnership illegally coordinated election activities with a former state legislator.

Commissioner Jonathan Motl said Wednesday ATP distributed campaign mailers in coordination with former Billings Republican Representative Dan Kennedy. It’s the second blow to ATP this week, after a federal judge threw out a lawsuit from ATP associates.

Montana political observers spotted their first Democrat to officially file for U.S. Senate Wednesday.

Dirk S. Adams, a Wilsall Rancher, told Lee Newspapers Reporter Mike Dennison he decided about a month ago to get into the race and that it’s his first time running for office.

Gov. Steve Bullock is asking the public to help flesh out a plan for economic development in the state.

The Main Street Montana Project wrapped up a series of seven roundtable discussions in different communities in July. The governor is now hoping to collect ideas through surveys. He said he wants to figure out what works for businesses and what doesn’t—from the businesses themselves.

Former Montana First Lady Betty Babcock died this past Sunday in Helena at age 91.

The wife of former Republican Gov. Tim Babcock was known for pushing hard for passage of the 1972 Montana Constitution, a renovation of the state capitol building and other issues.

Montana Republican Party Chairman Will Deschamps described her as an immeasurably kind woman who wouldn’t say an ill word about anyone.

 Attorney General Tim Fox said Monday he is denying a request from the Associated Press to turn over information about the state’s more than 30-thousand concealed carry permit holders.

The information includes names, addresses and driver’s license numbers for those with the concealed weapons permits. The AP made the request in mid-March, after the legislature passed a bill making the information confidential but before it was signed by Governor Steve Bullock.

Who do the Dems get to run now?

Jul 18, 2013
Wikipedia

With former Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s weekend decision not to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Max Baucus in 2014, the list of Democratic candidates who might run is an ever-changing puzzle.

After Schweitzer’s decision, political observers quickly turned to Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau and State Auditor Monica Lindeen.

Former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer shocked the political world this past weekend in announcing he will not run for the open Senate Seat being vacated by Max Baucus in 2014.

Schweitzer says he is not interested in moving to Washington D.C., saying he’s happy with his current position as Board Chairman of the Stillwater Mining Company and is content living in his new house on Georgetown Lake.

Republican Congressman Steve Daines has expressed interest in running for the seat, and is considered to be the new frontrunner.

Montana Democrats are preparing for their party’s annual convention this Friday and Saturday in Lewistown.

The party will be electing officers and examining their rules. Executive Director Andrea Marcoccio said the party will be using the convention to unify—to build on the types of strategies which allowed Democrats to win big statewide races in 2012.

Katrin Frye

Affordable airfare, higher education, low wages, and quality of life are among the challenges and opportunities business leaders from across the state identify as hampering or helping economic growth.  These questions of opportunities and challenges are being asked as part of Governor Steve Bullock’s Main Street Montana Project. Governor Bullock said it’s a bottom up economic development plan to create a blueprint for job growth in Montana.

Dan Boyce

  Law Enforcement and fire officials evacuated the state capitol building Wednesday after a suspicious letter was received, intended for Governor Steve Bullock. The Governor was not in the building at the time. 

The state employee receiving the letter has been quarantined, though there have been no injuries.

Helena Fire Captain Brian Roberts said his Department and the Helena Police Department were called to the Capitol building at about 12:15 PM A mail handler for Governor Steve Bullock’s office had opened an anonymous letter.

jabzoog/Flickr

Renewable energy advocates are blasting a new proposal from the Montana Public Service Commission.

The PSC is looking to change the rules for which small power production facilities qualify for certain standard rates.

Opponents say the change could significantly hinder expansion of renewable energy production.

Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce says supporters of the change say it would prevent cost increases for ratepayers.

    

DPHHS unveils new state health initiative

Jun 20, 2013
Dan Boyce

Gov. Steve Bullock announced a new initiative Thursday to improve health outcomes in the state. The plan, called “Big Sky. New Horizons. A Healthier Montana” outlines a series of strategies to address some of the state’s biggest health and safety concerns, like smoking and motor vehicle fatalities.

“When it comes to healthcare, we will, we have and will continue to have grand policy debates about who pays and how much they should pay,” Bullock said, “but what we shouldn’t lose sight of is there’s so much we can do.”

Montana’s public employees now just need to wait for state agencies and unions to ratify a plan negotiated with Gov. Steve Bullock in order to receive their first base-pay raises in more than four years.

Montana’s Republican faithful are preparing for their annual convention this Friday and Saturday, despite an unusually stark division between certain factions of the party—specifically legislators.

The increasingly public split between hardline conservatives and a group of moderates labeling themselves ‘Responsible Republicans’ became apparent throughout the course of the 2013 Legislature, with the moderates breaking away from party leadership to side with Democrats on many of the session’s key issues.

Dan Boyce

Lisa Bullock is moving into her sixth month as Montana’s First Lady and said she is still exploring how she wants to use her new title.

Traditionally, the First Lady takes on a project, a focused effort during the governor’s tenure. For instance, former First Lady Nancy Schweitzer worked on getting kids interested in science and math. The First Lady is not an official state employee, but she does have certain resources available to her, like staff from the Governor’s office.

Governor Steve Bullock’s office is reaching out to Democratic Lawmakers to uphold his vetoes on some key bills from the 2013 Legislature,  including some bills that were initially supported by almost the entire legislative body.

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.  

Natalie Maynor/Flickr

Montana lawmaker have until Monday to cast their votes on whether to override certain vetoes from Governor Steve Bullock.

Bullock vetoed the second highest number of bills in Montana history this year--a total of 71 bills.

Two dozen of those bills were passed by a 2/3rds  majority of the legislature, and thus meet the criteria for a potential veto override. The Secretary of State's office sends out polls on those bills, and if 2/3rds of both the House and Senate vote for them again the veto is overturned.

Providers of general care for the developmentally disabled are asking the public to speak out against a plan from the state Department of Public Health and Human Services to alter an increase in Medicaid dollars for raises.

DPHHS is proposing to take two-percent of a total four-percent increase in rates for these providers and distribute that money in other ways than just an equal raise to all providers. DPHHS Director Richard Opper says this could include putting in place ‘performance measures’ to give higher raises to facilities operating more successfully.

William Marcus

The former campaign manager for President Barack Obama, Jim Messina, was in Missoula over the weekend to deliver the commencement address to his alma mater, the University of Montana.

Montana receives “F” for its disclosure laws

May 17, 2013
National Institute on Money in State Politics

A report released this week by the National Institute on Money in State Politics gives Montana a failing grade on its disclosure laws related to campaign spending in elections.

Twenty-five other states received “F”s in the report, while 15 states received an “A”.

“What we found interesting was that the state’s were either great or awful,” said the Institute’s Managing Director Denise Roth Barber. “There were very few in between.”

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