Steve Bullock

Jonathan Motl, Montana Commissioner of Political Practices speaks during a forum about the "Disclose Act" in Missoula, MT
Josh Burnham

Montana’s new campaign finance law still has at least one loophole that needs to be addressed. That’s according to state Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl.

Gov. Bullock Signs Tax Breaks For Pollution Control Equipment

May 14, 2015
Rep. Mike Miller and Governor Steve Bullock at a ceremonial bill signing for House Bill 156, tax cuts for pollution control equipment, at the Billings-area Chamber of Commerce.
Jackie Yamanaka - Yellowstone Public Radio

A tax cut for industry to install pollution control and carbon sequestration equipment is good for industry, jobs, and public health.

That’s the message from Governor Steve Bullock during a ceremonial bill signing Wednesday in Billings.

Montana is making progress toward transitioning some elderly and disabled people out of nursing homes into less restrictive settings. Delegates at the Governor’s Conference on Aging got an update on the nationwide program.

William Marcus

People in Montana who are out of work because of domestic violence will soon be able to get the same unemployment benefits as others who lose their jobs.

Montanans' property can still be seized if police suspect it's connected to criminal activity, but now it has to be returned if they can't get a conviction.  That hasn't always been the case.

Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Tribal leaders from across Montana gathered at the state capitol today as Governor Steve Bullock signed two bills designed to preserve native languages.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

On the final "Capitol Talk" of the 2015 session, Sally, Chuck, and Mike talk about the death of the infrastructure bill, the session's winners and losers, and how the outcome might affect the 2016 election.

Steve Jess, MTPR


Yesterday Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat, signed a Medicaid expansion bill into law that was sponsored by a Republican senator, Ed Buttrey. Buttrey has long been opposed to Medicaid expansion as called for in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. So how did the businessman from Great Falls come to sponsor a Medicaid expansion bill? I asked him about that immediately after yesterday’s bill signing ceremony at the capitol.

Gov. Bullock signs the Medicaid expansion plan into law on April 29 at the captiol. The bill's sponsor Sen. Ed Buttrey, and supporter Stephanie Wallace look on.
Steve Jess

Backers of Medicaid expansion celebrated in Helena today as Governor Bullock signed the bill extending the health coverage to an estimated 45,000 more Montanans.

2015 Session Ends, Major Infrastructure Bill Dies

Apr 28, 2015


The 2015 Legislative session is over.

Lawmakers clocked out this morning after the House failed in another attempt to approve a statewide infrastructure bill.

The Montana Senate had been expected to wrap up its business and head home this afternoon. Instead, Senators debated for more than an hour on one of the governor’s most controversial nominees.

In the end, Jonathan Motl became the first Commissioner of political practices to be confirmed by the Montana Senate in nearly a decade. Appointed by Democratic Governor Steve Bullock, Motl has drawn fire from many Republicans who claim he targets conservatives for campaign violations, like Miles City Republican Eric Moore.

Bullock Signs Bully Free Montana Bill Into Law

Apr 21, 2015
Jackie Yamanaka

Local school districts in Montana are charged with coming up with a process so their students can report bullying at school and have those complaints formally addressed.

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.

Legislative Roundup: Medicaid Expansion, State Budget Advance

Apr 12, 2015
From left, House Speaker Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, Rep. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, and Minority Leader Chuck Hunter, D-Helena, debate rules on the House floor April 8.
Michael Wright - UM Community News Service

After wrangling over rules, the last remaining bill to expand Medicaid at the 64th Montana Legislature appears to be headed to the governor’s desk.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk": The bitter fight in the House over Medicaid expansion, the state budget fights yet to come, the Flathead water compact's chances for passage, and the legacy of former Governor Tim Babcock, who passed away this week.

Early Education Funding Fails To Make The Cut In Senate Budget

Apr 9, 2015

The Republican-controlled Senate today gave preliminary approval to the state’s main budget bill. The GOP majority allowed only a few technical amendments and resisted attempts by Democrats to add additional funding or programs to House Bill 2. This includes a Bullock Administration proposal to fund early childhood education.

Montana Capitol
William Marcus

The lone bill barely alive at the Montana Legislature that expand Medicaid coverage to the working poor is now tangled in a procedural fight over the House rules.

It will be an interpretation of those rules that will determine whether the full House gets to debate this bill on the floor.

This fight over Medicaid Expansion began long before the Republican-controlled House Human Services Committee held yesterday’s hearing on Senate Bill 405.

But it came to a head during executive action held after the four and a half hour hearing on this bill.

William Marcus

One of the biggest bills in this year’s Montana Legislature remains in limbo. Wednesday at noon, the House rules committee will meet to decide whether a committee had the right to kill a Medicaid expansion proposal with a “do not pass” recommendation.

Former Governor Tim Babcock died Tuesday morning at the age of 95.

Babcock was elected Montana's lieutenant Governor in 1960. He became the state's chief executive when a plane crash killed Governor Don Nutter, who was also Babcock's close friend, two years later.

Babcock would go on to lose a U.S. Senate race and another bid to serve in the Governor's office, but he and his late wife, Betty, remained active in state politics for the rest of their lives.

Sen. Ed Buttrey (R) SD13
Montana Legislature

Tuesday brings a crucial test for Medicaid expansion in Montana. Republican Senator Ed Buttrey’s bill to offer the government-funded health coverage to about 70,000 more Montanans faces a hearing before the same committee that killed a similar proposal by Democratic Governor Steve Bullock.

Senate Committee Restores Some Funding Cut By House

Apr 3, 2015
William Marcus

The Senate Finance and Claims Committee added about $55 million of general fund dollars back into the state budget. That’s according to preliminary figures from the Legislative Fiscal Division.

Not quite half of that amount was to cover cost over-runs in the current biennium.

This year’s cost overruns total about $31 million.

Once again, for the third time, the Montana GOP has trotted out a plan to break and cap the Coal Tax Trust Fund that has been one of Montana’s biggest financial and policy success stories. In this attempt to steal your savings, they have demonstrated their lack of prudent money management skills and their propensity for trying to turn your savings account into their political slush fund, with no respect for the visionaries of the past who figured out how to protect our children and grandchildren's future.

Montana hunters won a victory in the state House Wednesday as lawmakers and the Governor came together over a bill to let sportsmen used sound suppressors on their rifles.

Sound suppressors quiet the noise of a rifle to reduce ear damage to the hunter. Many hunters like them, but game wardens oppose them, because they say suppressors help poachers get away with breaking the law. 

Governor's Plane Cut From State Budget

Mar 30, 2015
Montana Legislature

Governor Steve Bullock could be forced to rent a plane after Republican Representatives stripped his from the statewide budget earlier this month.

Today in the Senate, Republican Jim Keane of Butte argued that this is a bad, politically-driven decision.

“Why, you talk about fiscal responsibility, don’t you think that not allowing the chief executive of the state of Montana to have a plane is appropriate?”

Bill Prohibits Drivers License Revocation For Student Loan Default

Mar 30, 2015
Montana Legislature

A Montana law that allows the state to revoke peoples’ drivers licenses for defaulting on their student loans appears headed for the scrap heap.

On Friday a bill to take away the state’s revocation authority passed the Senate and is now headed to Governor Steve Bullock’s desk.

The revocation law was passed in 1997, and gives the state the right to revoke professional licenses, too, like ones needed to work as a nurse or engineer.

Republican Infrastructure Bills Advance Through Montana Legislature

Mar 30, 2015
William Marcus

Several infrastructure bills are working their way through the Montana Legislature, but not the one proposed by the Bullock Administration.

During this week's Capitol Talk, Sally, Chuck and Mike look forward to what's sure to be a heated debate in the House over Republican Sen. Edward Buttrey's Medicaid bill to expand coverage to the working poor.

They also discuss Republican Rep. Duane Ankney's dark money bill as it takes a step closer the Gov. Bullock's desk.

"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.

For Senator Buttrey, Medicaid Expansion Is A Riddle And A Risk

Mar 25, 2015
Sen. Ed Buttrey (R) SD13
Montana Legislature

Middle ground on Medicaid expansion eluded the Montana Legislature in 2013, and since then Senator Ed Buttrey, R-Great Falls, has studied the issue, talked to hospitals and members of the other party and others to get to where he was last week: standing in front of the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee.

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 Lawmakers Clash Over State Revenue Estimate

Mar 23, 2015
Montana Legislature

Lawmakers are considering whether to increase the amount of revenue the state of Montana is projected to collect in taxes and fees over the coming three years.

The revenue estimate is an important number for lawmakers to consider as they craft the state budget and consider tax cuts for the coming two years.

The proposed figure is the latest compromise.