MTPR

Steve Daines

 Tony Lapinski is a Montana veteran who's had trouble using Veterans Choice
Mike Albans

Both of Montana’s U.S. Senators have sent letters chastising the company that runs the Veterans Choice healthcare program in Montana and 36 other states.

Veterans Choice is supposed to help vets get appointments with private health care providers if they live far from a VA facility, or have been waiting a long time for a VA appointment. It was created in 2014, and has been plagued with problems since the beginning.

Seal of the Chippewa Cree Tribes
Josh Burnham

Authorities say it is now safe for people living on the Rocky Boy's Reservation to drink their tap water again. The Environmental Protection Agency lifted a boil order today.

One of the paper menorahs Love Lives Here is distributing in Whitefish this Hanukkah
Nicky Ouellet

A few days before the start of Hanukkah, a small group gathered on a street corner in downtown Whitefish, holding stacks of paper menorahs. Joan Vetter Ehrenberg, a volunteer for Love Lives Here, a branch of the Montana Human Rights Network, reads an explanation from the back of the menorah:

"Obviously in response to the anti-semitic targeting of our local friends and neighbors in Whitefish, Love Lives Here invites everyone in the valley to hang a menorah in the window ..."

Whitefish, MT rail depot.
Flickr user Roy Luck (CC-BY-2)

A bipartisan group of Montana’s top elected officials today condemned a series of anti-Semitic, online attacks happening in Whitefish.

U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, along with Congressman Ryan Zinke, Governor Steve Bullock, and Attorney General Tim Fox released a joint statement saying that groups with anti-Semitic views will “find no safe haven here.”

It’s been just over a week since Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke was nominated to be secretary of Interior by President-elect Donald Trump. Since then, at least half-a-dozen Republicans and one Democrat have expressed interest in replacing him. If Zinke is confirmed by the Senate, Montana will hold a special election next year to fill his House seat.

To talk over what this means for Montana, we’re joined by Rob Saldin, a political science professor at the University of Montana and analyst for MTPR.

Montana VA Appoints New Permanent Director

Oct 28, 2016
New Permanent VA Director Dr. Kathy Berger
Courtesy of Veterans Administration

The woman who has been interim director of the Montana Veterans Administration Health Care System since June was named permanent director Friday.

President Barack Obama
Pete Souza, The Obama-Biden Transition Project (CC-BY-3.0)

All three members of Montana’s congressional delegation voted in favor of the first-ever override of a veto by President Obama.

Last week the President vetoed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.

Wednesday, Democratic Senator Jon Tester joined Congressman Ryan Zinke and Senator Steve Daines, both Republicans, in voting to overturn that veto.

Interior Secretary Halts Bison Range Transfer Proposal
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2)

Debate over transferring federal public lands to state ownership or management has largely dominated Montana’s U.S. House race between the main party candidates.

Across the country, some state lawmakers and members of Congress are pushing to transfer federal lands to state ownership or control, a movement that has gained traction and created some controversy.

Incumbent Republican Ryan Zinke and challenger Democrat Denise Juneau both say their stances on these issues are clear.

Cattle
(PD)

China is one of the top beef-consuming nations in the world. But American producers have been locked out of that lucrative market since a Mad Cow Disease scare 13 years ago.

That changed this week.

Dan Fagre, a climate change researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey, shows US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell a photo of Glacier in 1914
Nicky Ouellet

Thursday was a big day in Glacier National Park.

The Park Service turned 100, and to celebrate, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made a pilgrimage of sorts up Going to the Sun Road to see the park’s waning namesakes. She called it, "an incredible reminder of why the NPS was America's best idea."

Dead mountain whitefish in the Yellowstone River on August 24, 2016. Officials estimated that tens of thousands of fish have been killed by a rare parasite.
Eric Whitney

About 400 people came to the public meeting in Livingston last night about the fish kill that’s caused the closure of a 180-mile section of the Yellowstone River and hundreds of miles of its tributaries, from the boundary of Yellowstone National Park downstream to Laurel.

The National Park Service turns 100 tomorrow. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will visit Glacier and Yellowstone Parks to wish them happy birthday.

Secretary Jewell will tour Glacier National Park in the morning to see firsthand how climate change is affecting the park’s glaciers and resources.

Gianforte Says Indian Reservations Hinder Free Markets

Aug 19, 2016
Greg Gianforte standing among dancers during the Arlee powwow grand entry.
Corin Cates-Carney

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The way for Montana's American Indian reservations to escape poverty is through the free market, but the shortcomings of tribal governments are preventing businesses from flourishing, Republican candidate for governor Greg Gianforte said in a campaign stop last month.

Conservationists threw a party Saturday to celebrate permanent land protections in the Haskill Basin watershed east of Whitefish.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is updating the bison range’s comprehensive conservation plan and accompanying environmental impact statement.
(PD)

Montana’s congressional delegation is taking a wait-and-see approach to a proposal to transfer management of the National Bison Range to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

Weyerhaeuser closed its lumber and plywood mills in Columbia Falls last week.
Eric Whitney

Wednesday’s announcement that Weyerhaeuser will close its Columbia Falls lumber and plywood mills, along with its administrative offices, brought an avalanche of reaction -- none of it good.

Montana lawmakers in Washington voted for and against two sets of opposing gun control measures Monday.

None of the four amendments, which were spurred on by the recent mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, passed the Senate votes.

Governor Steve Bullock
Corin Cates-Carney

On Tuesday, Governor Steve Bullock released a plan to guide Montana’s energy future.

A gun lock is a metal cable attached to a small padlock that goes through the gun's action
Kencf0618 (CC-BY-SA-3)

Last year, at least 265 kids in the U.S. found a gun, pulled the trigger and accidentally shot themselves or someone else. It wasn’t always fatal, but it’s something that very easily could have been avoided.

U.S. Capitol
flickr user Tim Evanson (CC-BY-SA-2)

Both of Montana’s senators praised the Senate's passage of the National Defense Authorization Act today. Both were among the 85 senators voting for the bill.

The Republican members of Montana’s congressional delegation have requested a meeting with Veterans Administration Secretary Robert McDonald in the wake of the director of the Montana VA announcing his resignation, effective July 8.

PD

High-rise wood-framed buildings are rare in the United States, but that may change. Senator Steve Daines has signed on to a bill to accelerate research and development of what are called "tall wood buildings."

Both of Montana’s senators praised the energy bill passed by the Senate today.

It's all about the gubernatorial race today on "Campaign Beat": The politics behind the governor's new "working group" on Colstrip; PayPal, and the dilemma for pro-business Republicans who support "religious freedom" laws; And to nobody's surprise, Greg Gianforte wins the endorsements of Sen. Daines and Rep. Zinke. Listen now for the latest analysis from Sally Mauk, Chuck Johnson, and Rob Saldin.

Renewable Energy Missing From Montana Energy Conference Says NPRC

Mar 29, 2016
About 60 people gathered on the Yellowstone County Courthouse lawn to promote renewable energy. The March 29, 2016 rally was sponsored by the Northern Plains Resource Council.
Jackie Yamanaka - Yellowstone Public Radio

About 60 people gathered during a wet snowstorm on the Yellowstone County Courthouse lawn to rally for renewable energy. The event was scheduled to coincide with Senator Steve Daines’ Montana Energy Conference.  

Sen. Daines Talks Energy Issues In Missoula

Mar 24, 2016
Sen. Steve Daines.
Courtesy photo

Sen. Steve Daines is spending the Senate’s current two-week recess highlighting energy issues in Montana.

He’s traveling across the state meeting with energy producers, businesses and schools this week, and then next week hosting an energy conference in Billings Tuesday through Thursday. He was in Missoula yesterday visiting Big Sky Brewing:

CHS Refinery Depends On Colstrip For Electricity, Manager Says

Mar 21, 2016
CHS Refinery Manager Pat Kimmet (L) gives Senator Steve Daines, R-MT, a tour of the Laurel facility.
Jackie Yamanaka - Yellowstone Public Radio

Senator Steve Daines is spending the next two weeks highlighting the energy needs of Montana businesses, and advocating for policies that protect the state’s fossil fuel industries, including coal interests that are facing significant challenges. Daines kicked off what he’s calling his Montana Energy tour today with a stop at the CHS refinery in Laurel.

U.S. Supreme Court
PD

Montana’s congressional delegation is deeply divided over President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. 

President Obama says his nominee, appeals court judge Merrick Garland, deserves a full hearing and an up or down Senate confirmation vote.

But Republicans control the Senate. They don’t want to give the president a chance to influence the court’s ideological balance before he leaves office.

Montana’s Republican Senator, Steve Daines, says the next Supreme Court Justice will have far-reaching impacts for a generation.

A U.S. Senate committee Tuesday heard competing bills co-sponsored by Montana's Senators to fix a veterans health program.

Senator Steve Daines Wednesday criticized the Indian Health Service for what he says is too much spending on administration and not enough on actual health care.

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