Steve Bullock

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.

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company
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.

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company
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

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.”

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