Steve Bullock

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.

GOP Medicaid Expansion Bill On Friday's Legislative Agenda

Mar 19, 2015

A new bill to expand Medicaid in Montana gets its first hearing in the state legislature tomorrow. Republican Ed Buttrey of Great Falls’ bill would expand the health program for the poor, elderly and disabled to an estimated 45,000 Montanans.

Courtesy Photo

Among the dozens of amendments that Democrats sponsored to add spending to the $10 billion state budget, was one to enact the Governor’s $37 million pre-school plan.

The Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee stripped it out of the budget bill over a week ago, but the Democratic minority tried to convince the whole House to put it back in.

Missoula Democrat Nancy Wilson says as the world gets more complicated, kids need to start learning earlier.

Michael Wright - Community News Service

The Montana House set aside its usual schedule Wednesday for a marathon floor session devoted to the state budget.

Democrats brought up 40 amendments to increase funding for a wide range of state departments, restoring money that the House Appropriations Committee cut from the governor’s budget proposal. The Republican majority rejected most of them on party-line votes.

One amendment that came close to passing was Butte Democrat Ryan Lynch’s proposal to restore $700,000 cut from the Governor’s office, including $330,000 for the executive airplane.

Another Medicaid Expansion Plan Introduced At The Montana Legislature

Mar 17, 2015
Sen. Ed Buttrey (R) SD13
Montana Legislature

The latest proposal to expand health insurance coverage for the working poor is scheduled for a legislative hearing Friday.

Supporters Pack Hearing On Gov's Infrastructure Plan

Mar 17, 2015
Eric Whitney

Supporters for infrastructure projects across Montana packed the House Appropriations Committee Monday afternoon to speak in favor of the governor's funding plan. The hearing was a stark contrast to last week's hearings on the GOP's alternate infrastructure bills.

The GOP proposals for infrastructure is found in House Bills 6, 7, 8, 11, 15, and 403. These bills were heard last week. There were few proponents; all were opposed by the Bullock Administration.

State Budget On Next Week's Legislative Agenda

Mar 13, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Next week, the Montana House of Representatives will hear House Bill 2, the state budget bill. It arrives smaller than Gov. Steve Bullock requested, including a proposal to take away his plane, which he says is about party politics.

Gun safety advocates have begun a push to defeat several bills that expand gun rights in Montana.

The Montana chapter of “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense” is taking aim at two bills that would loosen the state’s concealed-carry laws, and another bill that would allow guns on college campuses.

They kicked off their drive with a capitol news conference, where one speaker was retired Lewistown educator John Moffatt, who was shot and nearly killed by a Junior High student in 1986. He doesn’t want guns on campus, and says students don’t them either.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk", Sally, Mike and Chuck cover pre-school education's tough reception at the legislature, the infrastructure funding debate, Medicaid expansion passions, and concealed carry on campus.

"Capitol Talk," our weekly legislative news and analysis program, appears on Fridays throughout the legislative session. MTPR's Sally Mauk is joined by Lee Newspapers reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison.

Tune in to "Capitol Talk" on your radio every Friday during the session at 6:35 p.m. and again on Sunday at 11:00 a.m.
 

Tax Cuts Advance Even As Ending Fund Balance Remains Unknown

Mar 13, 2015
William Marcus

The Republican-controlled legislature is closer to sending another tax cut proposal to Democratic Governor Steve Bullock’s desk. The governor has already vetoed one tax cut measure.

Senate Bill 200 would reduce the income tax rates and broaden the tax brackets. The bill also reduces the capital gains tax credit rate.

House Blocks Attempts To Revive Bullock's Medicaid Expansion Bill

Mar 10, 2015
Michael Wright - Community News Service

The Republican-controlled House officially killed the governor's Medicaid expansion proposal. That's because House Democrats failed to convince the Republican controlled chamber to reject the "do not pass" recommendation from the House Human Services Committee on the bill. That action came Friday night immediately after a nearly six-and-a-half hour-long hearing.

Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

Columbia Falls may know by autumn whether the now-closed aluminum smelter there will become a Superfund site.

Last Tuesday the owners of the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company announced the smelter is permanently closing.

The next day the Environmental Protection Agency notified Governor Steve Bullock it proposes to add the plant to its priority list of industrial sites that should be cleaned.

Democrats Cry Foul Over Medicaid Expansion Vote

Mar 9, 2015
Steve Jess

Governor Bullock’s Medicaid expansion plan is apparently dead for this legislative session. Republicans on the House Human Services Committee voted to give it a “do not pass” recommendation, an unusual move that make resurrecting the bill very unlikely, and has drawn harsh criticism from Democrats.

William Marcus

Governor Bullock's Medicaid expansion plan was killed in the House Human Services Committee after almost seven hours of hearings and testimony Friday night. House Bill 249 was given an adverse committee report, or do-not-pass recommendation on a 10 to 7 party line vote.

Medicaid Expansion Debate Begins At The Montana Legislature

Mar 6, 2015
Montana House Speaker Austin Knudsen (R) HD34
Montana Legislature

Before the hearing on Gov. Bullock's Medicaid expansion bill began, the Republican majority took another jab at the bill.

TVMT

The House Human Services committee borrowed the old Supreme Court chamber for a hearing on Medicaid expansion that drew an overflow crowd and is expected to run into the evening.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

Today on Capitol Talk: Sally, Chuck and Mike discuss the state budget, discordant revenue estimates, Medicaid expansion, "silver bullets", the governor's airplane, and James Carville's speechmaking prowess.

"Capitol Talk," our weekly legislative news and analysis program, appears on Fridays throughout the legislative session. MTPR's Sally Mauk is joined by Lee Newspapers reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison.

Tune in to "Capitol Talk" on your radio every Friday during the session at 6:35 p.m. and again on Sunday at 11:00 a.m.

Gov. Bullock's Medicaid Expansion Bill Gets First Hearing Friday

Mar 5, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Friday, legislators hear Governor Bullock’s Medicaid expansion bill, House Bill 249. It faces an uphill battle from the start.

Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

To many Columbia Falls residents the full closure of the local aluminum smelter was more a matter of when than if.

That question was answered with certainty this week when Columbia Falls Aluminum Company announced that it's permanently shuttering the plant.

Local real estate agent Bill Dakin say this development was a long time coming.

"This announcement, finally, an honest announcement that this plant will never refine aluminum again, is kind of a new day here."

Eric Whitney

Governor Bullock's bill to expand Medicaid gets its first hearing in the state legislature on Friday. Watching closely will be Montana's hospitals.

To understand why, drop by an emergency room at one of Montana's bigger hospitals, like Benefis in Great Falls.

This ER serves about a quarter of the state's population. And 10 to 12 percent of Benefis' patients can't afford to pay their bills. Last year, that added up to $36 million in unpaid bills, or about three times the hospital's profit margin.

Nathan Kosted

Governor Steve Bullock’s Medicaid expansion plan gets its first hearing at the state legislature Friday, and that has groups for and against it trying to rally support.

The Koch brothers-funded group Americans For Prosperity, or AFP, unveiled new broadcast ads targeting Montana Republican representatives.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on Capitol Talk: Sally, Mike and Chuck look back at the week's events at the Montana Legislature, from the Flathead water compact, to dark money, to the death of the death penalty repeal.

William Marcus

State lawmakers are taking a five-day break before starting the second half of the 2015 legislature. While much of their work remains unfinished, one bill that’s already on its way to the Governor could set the stage for a showdown.

Lawmakers Say Much Work Remains As Legislature Reaches Half-Way Point

Feb 27, 2015
Michael Wright - Community News Service

The Montana Legislature is at the half-way point of the scheduled 90-day session.

It’s more than just the numerical half-way point; it’s a key legislative deadline. All non-spending or non-tax bills had to meet the Day 45 deadline of being transmitted to the other chamber or they died.

Lawmakers will now have nearly a week off before they return to the Capitol to resume their work.

Yellowstone Public Radio’s Jackie Yamanaka talked to legislative leaders and the governor about the progress so far, and what lies ahead.

House Tax Cut Bill Faces Likely Veto

Feb 26, 2015
William Marcus

Thursday, the Montana House of Representatives passed a bill to increase tax cuts for all Montanans. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Representative Keith Regier, brought this bill back to the House floor after a committee amended it to increase the tax cuts from .1 percent to .2 percent.

Regier says it’s good to give back when the government is in the black.

“A smart, responsible governor will recognize who’s funding the government and give them a break.”

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.”

GOP Income Tax Cut Moves Ahead

Feb 23, 2015
Montana Legislature

The Republican majority at the Legislature is marching ahead with an income tax cut bill despite warnings from the Bullock administration the move is premature.

House Bill 166 was amended in the Senate. It now would lower all of the income tax brackets by two-tenths of a percentage point. The bill was re-referred to the Senate Finance and Claims Committee to consider the fiscal implications.

The sponsor, Representative Keith Regier says, while that’s an increase from his original one-tenth of a percentage point he supports the move.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk": The Flathead water rights compact passes out of committee. A bill intended to "shine sunlight on dark money" is making its way through the process. Lawmakers heard testimony on one part of the GOP healthcare plan. And next Friday is the bill transmittal deadline and halfway point of the session

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