MTPR

wildfire

The fact Montana lawmakers were going into this week's special legislative session with no pre-negotiated "deal" in place gave many at the Capitol heartburn. The session wrapped up shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday morning. Governor Steve Bullock called legislators back to the Capitol to help address a projected $227 million dollar budget shortfall and backfill the state's depleted wildfire fighting fund. 

Sen. Jon Tester.
PD

Senate Republicans are pushing for a broad tax cut, contingent on the repeal of the law requiring Americans to buy insurance coverage. Montana Senator Jon Tester wants no part of it.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says eliminating the individual mandate would leave millions uninsured.

Montana Capitol in Helena.
William Marcus

Montana lawmakers returned to Helena Monday to begin a special legislative session aimed at addressing the state's $227 million budget deficit. The governor has proposed filling the budget gap with a combination of cuts to state agencies and tax increases. But Republicans, who control both houses of the Legislature, have different plans.

Wildland Firefighters working on fire line on the West Fork Fish Creek Fire in 2015.
Inciweb

State lawmakers Monday took up a proposal by Governor Steve Bullock to increases fees on some property owners to fund fire protection in the state. It's part of the governor's package of legislation aimed at patching the $227 million hole in the state budget.

House Bill 4 proposes freeing up $13 million in the state's general fund by asking property tax payers to take on more of the cost for state firefighting preparedness. This bill would ask property owners in eastern Montana to pay fees that people in western parts of the state already pay.

Caption The US Forest Service has proposed several thinning projects this fall aimed at reducing fuels in dry pine forests like this in the Bitterroot National Forest.
Nora Saks

Montana lawmakers are scoring political points by blaming environmentalists for suing to shut down logging projects on public lands. But public lands logging is both feeding area sawmills and reducing wildfire risk. MTPR's Nora Saks reports on a couple of projects in the Bitterroot Valley.

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