Steve Bullock

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

Eric Whitney

On the calendar it may have been Presidents Day, but for the Senate Judiciary Committee, Monday was no holiday.

Montana Judicial Candidates Have Confirmation Hearings

Feb 13, 2015

Three judicial candidates had their initial confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The candidates are to fill vacancies on the Montana Supreme Court, state District Court in Yellowstone County, and on the Workers’ Compensation Court.

Two of the vacancies are the result of sitting judges being appointed to the federal bench.

After Justice Brian Morris resigned to become a U.S. District Court judge, Governor Steve Bullock tapped then-Work Comp Court Judge Jim Shea to fill that vacancy on the Montana Supreme Court. Shea was sworn in last June.

Dan Boyce

Tonight in Missoula, a man in his mid 50s is getting an Eagle Scout award. The man is Larry Simkins, CEO of the Washington Companies, the giant international conglomerate based in Missoula with interests in railroads, shipping and mining.

He’s getting the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, which isn’t handed out that often. Past recipients include President Gerald Ford and Montana author and historian Stephen Ambrose.

Simkins says he remembers when he got his original Eagle Scout award.

News Roundup: Week Five At The Montana Legislature

Feb 8, 2015
William Marcus

Juneau calls for early education, tax cuts pass, lawmakers consider drones on public lands and Fox supports bill to combat human trafficking.

In her address to a joint session of the Montana Legislature last week, Superintendent Denise Juneau praised Montana’s schools and called for more investment in them.

“We have a lot to be proud of in this state,” she said.

Juneau listed accomplishments like the highest graduation rates in the state’s history and growth in organizations like the Future Farmers of America.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk", tax cut bills are getting a lot of attention at the Montana Legislature this session. One legislator, Nicholas Schwaderer of Superior, introduced a bill that would put income tax cuts up to a vote via referendum. The bill drew bipartisan opposition during its hearing in the House. Schwaderer defended the bill saying, "taxation of income is theft."

Tax cuts could face vetoes from Gov. Bullock, who is intent on keeping at least a $300 million surplus.

Bullock Touts Medicaid Expansion At Choteau Hospital VIsit

Feb 6, 2015
Teton Medical Center

Just over 40 percent of the patients who get care at Teton Medical Center  in Choteau are uninsured and can’t pay their medical bills. That’s the message the hospital’s CEO gave to Governor Steve Bullock Thursday afternoon.

Teton Medical Center is one of the state’s Critical Access Hospitals. It has ten hospital beds, just over three dozen nursing home beds, and an emergency room.

Montana’s governor has made good on a promise contained in last week’s State of the State Address, introducing a package of four bills designed to increase transparency in campaign financing. The centerpiece of the package is called the Disclose Montana Act, and it broadens the range of groups that must disclose their election-related finances.

'Round It Up' To Help Fight Hunger

Feb 4, 2015

Spare change can make the difference in the lives of children.

That’s the message from the Montana Retail and Restaurant Associations as they joined Governor Steve Bullock to launch a new program called “Round It Up Montana.”

It allows customers at participating restaurants and retailers to round up their bill to the nearest dollar. The proceeds go to charity.

The first 15 participating restaurants are all owned by Glacier Restaurant Group: Mackenzie River Pizza Company, Ciao Mambo, Latitude 48, and Craggy Ranger Bar and Grill.

News Roundup, Week 4 At The Montana Legislature

Feb 2, 2015
William Marcus

In the middle of the fourth week of the 64th Montana Legislature, Gov. Steve Bullock took the rostrum in the House of Representatives with a big smile.

“The state of our state is strong,” Bullock said, beginning his State of the State address.

Bullock touted his fiscal discipline and pushed his big legislative priorities, getting multiple standing ovations from Democrats and occasional claps from a few Republicans.

Legislature's Education Debate Centers On Funding, Choice, Control

Feb 1, 2015
Michael Wright

Sen. Scott Sales, R-Bozeman, sat in his office recently and talked about why he supports school choice, a nationwide movement to increase access to charter and private schools.

“I’m of the belief that the child’s education isn’t the responsibility of the state,” he said. “It’s the parent.”

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on Capitol talk, Sally, Chuck and Mike deconstruct the State of the State address and discuss how different philosophies on the role of government are affecting policy discussions at the Montana Legislature. From Medicaid expansion to bonding for infrastructure, to the debate over tax cuts vs. a surplus, these philosophical differences are behind many conflicts at the legislature.

State Of The State Highlights Division Between Parties In Helena

Jan 29, 2015
William Marcus

In his State of the State address Wednesday, Governor Steve Bullock mentioned a number of issues dividing the Democrats and Republicans this session. Those include funding infrastructure, funding pre-K education, and keeping a budget surplus of $300 million in case of emergency.

Jim Keane of Butte is one of the many Democrats who stood and cheered as the Governor talked about his proposals.

Republicans Face Off With Governor Over Infrastructure Spending

Jan 29, 2015
William Marcus

Despite a warning from the Governor to keep his Build Montana infrastructure bill intact, lawmakers are moving to break House Bill 5 into at least 5 bills. The move sets up a face-off with the Bullock Administration.

William Marcus

A permanent income tax cut and a two-year income tax rebate for homeowners edged closer to final approval in the Montana House Tuesday.

In floor debate Kalispell Republican Frank Garner pointed to the projected $300 million surplus in Governor Steve Bullock’s proposed budget, and said that money should go back to the people it came from, the taxpayers.

Listen To The 2015 State Of The State Address

Jan 27, 2015
William Marcus

Listen to Wednesday's State of the State address and the Republican response.

Gov. Steve Bullock addressed the people of Montana and the the legislature on Jan 28 in Helena. Sen. Eric Moore gave the Republican Response.

Analysis from Sally Mauk, MTPR's Senior News Analyst and Christopher Muste, Professor of Political Science at the University of Montana follows each speech.

Just want to hear the analysis segments? Listen below.

A Montana House Committee Monday took up a bill that could provide a preview of the coming debate on Medicaid expansion.

Freshman Republican Matthew Monforton, from Bozeman, is pushing a bill that would bar the governor from setting up a healthcare exchange or expanding Medicaid without the legislature’s approval.

"There are other states in which a governor has unilaterally imposed Medicaid expansion without the approval of the legislature, and in Montana we don’t think that’s appropriate," Monforton said.

Bill Would Prevent Gov. From Expanding Medicaid Without Legislative Approval

Jan 23, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Monday at the Montana Legislature, Republican Representative Matthew Monforton is proposing House Bill 256. This bill would limit the Governor’s ability to pass administrative rules that would effectively bypass the Legislature in expanding Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

Gov. Bullock introduced his Medicaid expansion plan this week. It promises to help the uninsured and bring Montana tax dollars back to the state. Bullock's plan faces opposition from Republicans who worry Medicaid and other welfare programs are riddled with fraud and create disincentives to work.

Lawmakers Consider Changes To State Election Laws

Jan 21, 2015
William Marcus

Montana lawmakers are considering changes to the state’s election laws.

One bill (House Bill 77) would change who would prosecute political robo-calls which are against the law in Montana. The other bill would allow a special election to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate, rather than an appointment by the Governor.

Jackie Yamanaka of Yellowstone Public Radio has more from the Capitol.

Legislative News Roundup - Week 2

Jan 20, 2015
William Marcus

In the second week of the 64th Montana Legislature, two initiatives from Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s budget were opened up in joint appropriations subcommittees.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Eric Whitney

Governor Steve Bullock introduced his Medicaid expansion plan this week; one of the most anticipated and potentially controversial bills of the 2015 legislative session.

It would accept federal funding to pay most of the estimated $870 million a year cost of extending Medicaid to about 70,000 more Montanans. Bullock said it was appropriate to introduce the bill on Martin Luther King day.

New Infrastructure Funding Approach Gets First Hearing At Montana Legislature

Jan 13, 2015
William Marcus

Montana lawmakers got their first official look at the major infrastructure bill of the 2015 Legislature.

The Bullock Administration’s nearly $400 million Build Montana program was presented to a joint Appropriations Subcommittee today. 

Governor's Infrastructure Bill On Tuesday's Legislative Agenda

Jan 12, 2015
Christopher B. Allen

Tuesday is the debut of the Governor’s proposed infrastructure bill. Worth over $400 million, this bill would provide funding over the next two years for roads and bridges across the state.

This comes after last session’s veto of a similar, but smaller, bill meant to help fund upkeep in the oil fields of eastern Montana.

Republican Representative Jeffrey Welborn of Dillon, Montana is backing the bill. However, he faces strong opposition from within his own party.

Rules Debates Dominate The First Week Of The Montana Legislature

Jan 11, 2015
Michael Wright - Community News Service

The 2015 Montana Legislature convened Jan. 5, and ceremonial and educational events welcomed the 150 lawmakers from all over the state to Helena.

During the swearing-in ceremonies, the leaders of each party said they hoped the parties would work together to better the state.

“I look around this room and see 50 individuals dedicated to making Montana a better place,” said new Senate President Debby Barrett, R-Dillon. Barrett is the first woman elected Senate president, and she spoke about increasing the power of the legislative branch.

Josh Burnham

A 100th anniversary celebration for the University of Montana’s Journalism School took place at the state capitol today.

It was 1914 when Dean Arthur Stone set up tents for journalism classes on the Missoula campus because no classrooms were available for the program’s twelve students. By the mid-seventies, when the Watergate scandal turned reporters into heroes, enrollment hit three hundred students. Today the UM Journalism program counts several Pulitzer Prize winners among its alumni.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

Rules debates, the home-schooled chair of the House Education committee, Medicaid expansion, and two new murals honoring Montana women at the state capitol; Sally Mauk, Chuck Johnson, and Mike Dennison talk about all this and more in this episode of "Capitol Talk".

"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.

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