Steve Bullock

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
Gov. Steve Bullock said he's "disappointed" by President Obama's Clean Power Plan.
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.

Steve Jess

Your chances of surviving a heart attack in Montana just got better, thanks to something called Lucas.

Mike Hense of Physio-Controls is demonstrating his company’s chest compression system, called the Lucas-2. It looks like a large plastic brace that straps around a patient’s abdomen, with a plastic plunger that presses against the chest cavity. Its purpose is to keep a person’s blood circulating, even if they’re in cardiac arrest.

Medicaid's Western Push Hits Montana

Jan 6, 2015

The Affordable Care Act is on the move in Western states, with the governors of Utah, Wyoming and Montana all working on deals with the Obama administration to expand Medicaid in ways tailored to each state.

But getting the federal stamp of approval is just the first hurdle. The governors also have to sell the change to their state legislators, who have their own ideas of how expansion should go.

The latest example is Montana, where the governor and the legislature have competing proposals about how much federal Medicaid expansion cash the state should try to bring in.

Eric Whitney

A group of nine Montana state lawmakers has put out an alternative to Democratic Governor Steve Bullock’s plan to expand Medicaid. They call it the Healthy Montana Family Plan, and it aims to cover more people, without the long term expense of Medicaid expansion.

2015 Legislative Preview

Dec 22, 2014
MTPR

Here are some topics we’re sure to see from this year’s state legislative session starting on Jan. 5th.

Medicaid Expansion

Governor Steve Bullock is still looking to get health care for the state’s 70,000 lowest-income members. Last session, he tried to expand Medicaid, but Republican members blocked it.

This time, however, he’ll be promoting something called “Healthy Montana,” which is an alternative meant to use federal dollars to contract with a private insurer for negotiated rates.  

Attorney General Tim Fox

Gov. Steve Bullock said he's "disappointed" by President Obama's Clean Power Plan.
Christopher B. Allen

As the price of oil continues to fall, Governor Steve Bullock says he’s not worried about the impact on Montana’s budget from declining oil tax revenue.
 
"I don’t go into the next legislative session saying revenues will live or die on what happens with oil prices."
 
Bullock says oil revenues only represent about $100 million worth of Montana’s $2.5 billion general fund budget.
 
"Now, that’s not to say that the oil and gas boom is not significant, because it’s also additional employment."
 

2011 Century Council

Montana Governor Steve Bullock discusses Medicaid expansion, early-childhood education, infrastructure spending, the upcoming legislature, and more with "Home Ground" host Brian Kahn.

Here are some highlights from the interview:

Medicaid Expansion

Gov. Bullock says the "Healthy Montana" plan is a unique solution that will insure thousands of Montanans and help relieve the burden of uncompensated care on small hospitals.

MT OPI

Montana is receiving $10 million in federal grants to set up preschool programs and train teachers in sixteen communities around the state. The money would provide preschool programs for 4-year-olds from low and moderate-income families. Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau says this grant is separate from the Governor’s proposal to fund a new statewide preschool program.
 

Eric Whitney

The Bullock Administration took some heat from Montana lawmakers Monday for what they say was spending over a million dollars without proper authority

In the final two days of the 2013 legislature, lawmakers handed the governor $7.5 million to fund projects in nine departments: Public Health and Human Services, Natural Resources and Conservation, Environmental Quality, Administration, Commerce, Revenue, Corrections, Labor and Industry, and the Governor’s Office . A legislative audit shows $1.1 million of that money went to agencies beyond those the legislature intended.

Governor Steve Bullock's longtime Chief of Staff is leaving and is being replaced by Tracy Stone-Manning, the current Director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

Bullock's outgoing chief of staff, Tim Burton, is leaving to lead the Montana League of Cities and Towns; a nonprofit association of 129 Montana municipalities. Burton says Stone-Manning is an excellent choice.

Josh Burnham

A federal judge today struck down Montana’s ban on gay marriage. Attorney General Tim Fox says he’ll appeal.

Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls ruled that Montana’s law violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

The law was challenged by four couples represented by the ACLU of Montana.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Montana, in September ruled similar gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada unconstitutional. But conflicting decisions remain in other federal courts, and the U.S. Supreme court has not issued a final word.

Gov. Proposes $300 Million For Montana's Aging Infrastructure

Nov 18, 2014
n-vision photos-cc-by

Much of Montana's roads, bridges and waterways are reaching the end of their useful life. In a new state-specific report card released today, Montana Civil Engineers give that aging infrastructure a mediocre overall grade of C-minus and say it needs attention.

Courtesy photo

Governor Steve Bullock released his two-year budget proposal during a Monday Morning news conference at the state capitol. Highlights include a spending increase of 5.5% this year and close to 3% next year, as well as $300 million in improvements to the state’s roads, sewers, and other infrastructure, and a $300 million surplus to take care of emergencies.

But the proposal that could produce the most contentious debate concerns Medicaid. 

Courtesy The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Nearly half of all Montana kids are growing up in low income homes.

That’s according to the latest Montana KIDS COUNT policy report, put out by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report concludes it's going to take a coordinated approach to help lift kids out of those circumstances.

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