Steve Bullock

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

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.

Montanans Vote To Keep Same-Day Voter Registration

Nov 5, 2014
File Photo

Montanans rejected efforts to curb late voter registration Tuesday.

The legislative referendum, LR-126, would have ended the ability for people to register to vote as late as Election Day, which has been allowed in Montana since 2006.

With 78 percent of precincts in, the Associated Press reported that 56 percent had voted to keep same-day registration and 44 percent had voted to end it.

Steve Jess

Montana Governor Steve Bullock cast his ballot in Helena this morning,  and then met with reporters outside the Helena Civic Center. Montana Public Radio’s Capitol Bureau Chief Steve Jess was there.

The Democratic Governor politely dodged questions about who he voted for, except to say that no one would be surprised if they knew. But he reminded Montana voters that many elections, especially on the local level, are decided by slim margins, so every vote really does count.

Democrats Hope To Shrink GOP Majorities In Montana Legislature

Oct 20, 2014

From the seat of his combine in the Helena Valley, Republican Senate candidate Joe Dooling talked about why he decided to run for the Legislature.

“I’m just wondering where all the grownups are,” he said.

The 2013 legislative session was marked by a split between conservatives and moderates in the Republican majority, at least one day of banging on tables and more than 70 vetoes from Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat. Dooling said he was frustrated by all of it.

Charting the Path of the Deadly Ebola Virus in Central Africa. PLoS Biol 3/11/2005: e403 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030403 (CC-BY-2.5)

Governor Steve Bullock says he's confident that should Missoula's Providence Saint Patrick hospital be asked to treat an Ebola patient, it would provide top notch care.

St.Pat's is one of four hospitals in the country specifically prepared to care for someone with such a highly infectious disease.

As we reported yesterday, some people who work there aren’t sure the hospital is adequately prepared to accept an Ebola case.

Edward O'Brien

Governor Steve Bullock's early childhood education proposal received an enthusiastic response today at a Missoula pre-kindergarten program, even as critics are wondering about its expense and value to taxpayers.

Governor Calls For Early Childhood Education

Oct 13, 2014
Courtesy Photo

Governor Steve Bullock says it is time to give every four-year old Montana child access to a high-quality, early childhood education.

It is one of the priorities of the Bullock Administration going into the 2015 Montana Legislative session.

Bullock kicked off the "Early Edge Montana” initiative with stops today in Hardin and Billings. He'll be in Helena and Great Falls to talk about the program Tuesday, in Missoula on Wednesday, and Bozeman on Thursday. Lieutenant Governor Angela McLean will visit Browning to talk about it on Thursday. 

LR-126 Asks Montanans To End Election Day Registration

Oct 13, 2014
File Photo

Voters face only two ballot issues this election, and the one getting the most attention is about voting itself.

Since 2006, Montanans have been able to register to vote on the same day they cast their ballots. That would end if voters approve Legislature Referendum 126 on Nov. 4.

A “yes” vote would repeal same-day voter registration. If that happens, citizens who don’t register by 5 p.m. on the Friday before an election won’t be able to vote.

A “no” vote would keep the system as it is.

Cheri Trusler

A meeting to talk about reducing Montana’s carbon dioxide emissions drew more than 150 people to a Missoula hotel last night.

Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality invited people to hear about and comment on their “white paper,” which shows five different strategies for the state to reduce Co2 emissions to meet a new federal target. That target for Montana is to reduce Co2 emissions by 21 percent by the year 2030.

Kudos to Governor Bullock and the MT DEQ for their work on carbon pollution at power plants.

Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)

Billings residents and Missoulians are next in line to weigh in on Montana's climate plan. Governor Steve Bullock asked the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to analyze potential ways the state can comply with E.P.A's proposed Clean Power Plan.

State regulators were in Colstrip yesterday, the heart of Montana coal country, for a public meeting on a draft rule limiting carbon pollution in Montana.

Montana Associated Press reporter Matthew Brown attended yesterday's meeting at Colstrip High School.

Sen. Duane Ankney (R) SD20
Montana Legislature

Tonight Governor Bullock’s proposal for how Montana can reduce C02 emissions from its coal fired power plants gets its first public airing at a meeting in Colstrip.

More public meetings will follow in Billings tomorrow night, and Missoula on Thursday. The administration is trying to meet a goal set by the Environmental Protection Agency for Montana to reduce C02 emissions 21 percent by the year 2030.

NRCS - Montana

Governor Steve Bullock issued an executive order today that he says will help protect sage grouse and ensure the bird remains under state - not federal - management.

Sage grouse are found in 11 states. They've lost over half their historic habitat to development.

Bullock says the Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program provides incentives for landowners to conserve important habitat. It establishes what are called "no surface occupancy zones" around key breeding areas where resource extraction work would be prohibited.

Christopher Allen

On a blustery, rainy afternoon, several Montana dignitaries gathered just offshore of the Clark Fork River today to officially break ground on construction of the Missoula College’s new site.

Officials expect construction of the $32 million project to last about two years, after nearly eight years of planning and some controversy. College officials considered several other sites, including the 90-year-old university golf course, before funding complications and public protest forced them to look elsewhere.

Plagiarism, Citizen Initiatives, REAL ID And Logging

Jul 25, 2014

This Week in Montana politics.

MT DoJ

The Department of Homeland Security has granted Montana an extension to comply with stringent federal driver's license rules under the REAL ID Act.

In an unusual step, Governor Steve Bullock has sent a two-page letter to the state Board of Pardons and Parole, outlining why he thinks the board should recommend clemency for convicted murderer Barry Beach. The board is set to hear Beach's application for clemency April 29th. Beach has already served 30 years of a 100-year sentence for the 1979 murder of Poplar teen Kim Nees. He has long maintained his innocence, and was granted a new trial by a district judge in 2011.

mt.gov

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report at the end of March.

The panel, established by the United Nations, continues to point to the vast majority of scientific research indicating human activity is a primary driver of our warming global climate.

In Montana, research suggests a future with lower mountain snowpack, hotter drier summers, and more severe wildfires.

Dan Boyce

Governor Steve Bullock has released a major economic development initiative which will guide his administration’s approach to growing jobs and raising wages.

The governor’s office has been working on the Main Street Montana Project for almost a year—holding roundtable discussions around the state led by some top business leaders.

The Governor describes the plan as a bottom-up method for growing the state economy.

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to let individuals give to as many political candidates and campaigns as they want.

The 5-4 vote Wednesday, led by the court’s conservative majority, frees up wealthy contributors to give more campaign donations ahead of the 2014 election.

It will have an immediate impact on Montana races for federal office, such as the US Senate and House of Representatives.

But, the state Commissioner of Political Practices says statewide elections will not be affected that much.

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